Previews// Marvel Heroes

Posted 19 Dec 2012 16:27 by
Superhero games have a mixed history. Actually no, scratch that. They've had a pretty dismal history. So, much so that Superman: The New Adventures for the N64 is universally regarded as one of the worst games that has ever been made.

Thankfully this changed when the likes of the rather excellent Marvel Ultimate Alliance appeared and did much to turn the tide of turgid super-hero based video games.

Marvel Heroes (MH) is an MMO that has a similar structure to Guild Wars in that there is a central social hub for interacting with other players but then everything else is 'Instanced'. This allows players to run through various areas killing off bad people without having their kills 'stolen' by passers-by. It also reduces the demands on the computer as it does not need to keep track of a myriad of players as they run around vanquishing evil.

In MH, Dr Doom is the villain who is hatching some diabolical plans, none of which involve the words 'fluffy' or 'bunnies'. Hardly surprising seeing as he has a PhD in 'doom' related things. Probably.

MH starts with a selection of Marvel superheroes being offered up as the player's avatar. At the time of the closed beta only a small selection was available, including Iron Man, Deadpool and The Punisher. I went with the The Punisher as I was curious to see how Marvel Heroes, a game that emphasises the super-powers of the pantheon of Spandex wearing do-gooders, would deal with one that really doesn't have any... super-powers.

Well, I say that but he is terribly annoyed. When I say 'annoyed', I mean he's actually a festering pool of rage. He can also kick people and shoot guns. Yup, I've definitely chosen well here... right... RIGHT?

The game opens up with the player starting in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier now made famous by the rather excellent The Avengers film. I spot a person who appears to be cos-playing the main protagonist from Kick Ass and discover he has a mission for me to find out what happened to the high security prison known as The Raft. There have been some reports of disturbances apparently and it's my job to investigate.

As with most managers the phrase 'disturbance' has a rather broad meaning, as upon arrival at The Raft it quickly becomes apparent that all hell has actually broken loose, with most of the prison guards dead and a host of inmates now intent on exacting revenge upon what's left of their former captors. It's therefore up to me, and any cohorts that I have brought along, to put an end to the uprising.

I actually solo-played my way through my experience with MH and with the limited access to the closed beta being reduced to short, three-hour, sessions the population levels were very small. This did not detract too much from the experience, as any hack'n'slash RPG, which MH most definitely is, should be able to hold its own for the solo experience.

So, off I trucked with The Punisher punishing people a lot via the use of his assault rifle. Wearing black jeans and a t-shirt with a white skull on it, he was almost impervious to machine gun fire and slow moving orbs of blue light that the enemy henchmen would fire at him... me.

As I fired off round after limitless rounds of bullets into my enemies who would fall over dead and magically vanish. No blood of course, or any gore come to think of it. That's understandable considering the PG rating Marvel comics always aim for.

Eventually I encountered a boss enemy in the form of the Green Goblin. He was flying about on his glider while throwing poison bombs at me. In order to dispatch him I had to use my regular attack and the only super power I had unlocked.

This was a rapid-fire spray dual assault rifle fire that turned The Punisher into a death-dealing turret. He can't do this for ever though as every time he uses this power it spends 'spirit', which is MH answer to Mana.

After killing the glider riding Green Goblin I picked up some loot that exploded around his quickly vanishing corpse. MH follows the model of shiny new things as a means to encourage the player to continue to grow and explore the game.

The now traditional rule of colour coded items also comes into play, with green being slightly special, blue being really special, purple being really, REALLY amazing. I can't confirm the existence of orange coloured legendary items, but I think it's safe to assume that they are there.

A disappointing aspect of the game is how the player's avatar doesn't change very much when new equipment is acquired. Granted there are limits to how much a Marvel super-hero's look can change, but throughout the play-period I experienced, The Punisher always wore the same t-shirt and carried the same weapon.
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