I grew up in the era of the NES and games on cartridges. There was no online play, and whatever got put onto that cartridge was the game that you got, bugs and all. Still, if I have to live in a world where the game can be finished after it’s released, I’m at least glad that companies like Crystal Dynamics let the average user be a part of the process. Primarily an XBox player, the announcement of a console exclusive Spider-Man was enough to draw me over to the PS4 side and pre-order Marvel’s Avengers there. So naturally, I spent last weekend digging into the game as much as I could. Overall, I loved it. I was never skeptical; I trusted Crystal Dynamics to make a good game. Still, it was nice to see that my faith was well-placed.
The story was scarce, but that was what I expected. I expected to get the same A-Day stage we’ve already seen a hundred times, but playing it made it cooler. I expected anything else we got to be purposefully vague so as not to give the rest of the game away. I did not expect the game to be so HARD. After hammering, smashing, blasting, and flipping my way through the opening sequence, I expected the Bruce and Kamala section to be equally a breeze. I was wrong. I play games on Normal the first time through so that I can enjoy the story. A couple of times I wondered if I’d have to change the difficulty to Easy. Thankfully I didn’t.
The main reason I had to consider this is also the biggest issue I encountered while playing. A few seconds into playing the intro, the camera went absolutely nuts. For a second or two it spun around like someone had just dropped a digital camera down a flight of stairs. Once it stopped, I was left trying to orient myself and get the camera centered again. This happened throughout my time playing, sometimes several minutes apart and sometimes back to back. Late into the Beta period I finally discovered what was causing it. I play with my Y axis inverted, and whenever I would rotate the right stick starting anywhere between the 10:00 and 2:00 positions, the camera would go nuts. Even knowing this, sometimes I would accidentally trigger the bug just by playing how I would normally play.
Even with this huge issue, I was able to thoroughly enjoy myself. A lot of the criticisms I’ve seen are valid. Most of the challenges are the same generic “Laboratory” setting allegedly set all around the world. The enemies are the same AIM drones 90% of the time. Still, these are challenges, missions set aside from the main story. It makes sense that they would share similarities. I’m not much of an online gamer outside of Nintendo, so this doesn’t really bother me. The challenges were fun, but probably not something I’ll spend a ton of time on.
Players over the weekend were only given access to one of each characters’ skill trees. I focused on Black Widow for most of the window and unlocked most of her skills in that tree. There’s nice variation, and I’m excited to see what the other skill trees have in store. Adding combos with Black Widow’s grappling hook or being able to pick up two enemies and smash them together as Hulk was just fun. There were gameplay elements that played similarly regardless of who I played as, but there were also lots of unique experiences.
I look forward to seeing what has changed by the time the Beta launches again this weekend, and while I don’t love the idea of the “Day One Update”, this testing period should help Crystal Dynamics make an already great game even greater.