‘Avengers’ Journal: Reassemble, or Disassemble?
It has been quite the journey so far. The release of Marvel’s Avengers has been an interesting one to say the least. Funny to think that my first article on Murphy’s Multiverse was on the Beta. At the time, it was a good summary of my first impression. Since then, I’ve finally gotten my hands on the final game. Finally, I get to play through the single-player campaign. That also means I also get to share my experience on the first major story of the game with you. As the game is set to continuously update, I hope to keep covering the game’s development. That inspired me to not just call this a review but my Avengers Journal. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the first main story, Reassemble.
A-Day of Beginnings
A-Day has been the focus of most of Avengers marketing. As such, most players probably are sick of hearing about it. Still, some of the cutest moments are hidden in this opening sequence. We start the game as a young Kamala Khan attending the iconic event. You get to wander around gathering comics while playing mini-games. She even gets to meet the various members of the team with hints at their dynamic. It’s a very heartfelt moment and a well-done sequence. Was surprised how many details were hidden throughout. Kamala is quite awkward at times. It makes sense that the young fangirl is still learning. Her emotional anchor is her father, who knows the importance of free ice cream. I’ll be honest, the biggest highlight of this story is the relationship between Kamala and her father.
After catastrophe unfolds, we skip to five years later. Kamala stumbles upon footage of what led to the explosion. It paints the events in a very different light. A.I.M. has become obsessed with “curing” Inhumans. Once her hacking gets uncovered, they start hunting her down in a well-done sneaking section. She is confronted by a mutating George Tarleton and Monica Rappaccini. Both survivors of the events and leaders of A.I.M. Not giving in to their offers, she runs off. In her travels, she finds the Helicarrier Chimera, where she snaps Bruce Banner out of a year-long Hulk journey. This unlikely meeting leads them on the path tor reassemble the Avengers one by one.
A Story to Remember
Before I jump into major spoiler territory, I have to praise the writing for this game. I expected a fun romp with my favorite Avengers. Yet, this story goes that extra mile. Making Kamala the main focus was a great idea to ground the story. She is the one meeting her heroes, something any of us can sympathize with. It plays on the “never meet your heroes” narrative and lets her become the emotional anchor for a team that grew apart. As she is Inhuman, she also has a personal stake in A.I.M.’s mission. Kamala is the glue that keeps everything together. Her stake in the story also rounds out the other Avengers.
Of course, this is not just about Kamala. The entire team fell apart when Captain America died during A-Day. Banner gave up and let Hulk take over for over a year. Suddenly, a young ambitious hero wants nothing more than to help those in need. Sandra Saad and Troy Baker give some amazing performances throughout the game. This story would fit in with the best the Marvel Cinematic Universe has offered. Also, this version of M.O.D.O.K. is a true highlight. They not only make the giant-headed scientist feel threatening but also sympathetic. Usman Ally gives a haunting performance that makes a once joke character stand out.
A Game Left Unpolished
The game does have quite a few issues though. I have faced a few lagging issues during cutscenes. The closer I got to the end, the worse they got. You will also notice sequences where they invested more time into the animation than others. I do wish the character-specific missions got a bit more attention, as they mostly consist of radio dialogue. Yes, the marketplace is way too expensive but the story gives you quite a lot of cool skins to play with. My biggest concern is the bugs still plaguing the game. I tried to switch Hulk’s skin and he just turned invisible. It is especially odd when story moments start only for the mission select menu still being on screen. The game has quite a few rough edges that are hard to ignore. However, I will commend Crystal Dynamics for being very active. You can access their Discord server to give them feedback. They are even reacting to posts on Reddit. This team does seem to care about the game and I believe that if they stick to it, they will fix these issues in no time.
Some people have voiced their concerns with Nolan North‘s Tony Stark. Yes, he is quite quippy even more so than other adaptations. I do agree that his in-mission banter can get old pretty fast. Yet, I enjoyed his performance out of the suit. He has a small arc throughout the story that leads to a great emotional moment. I will say though, there is one character that gets sidelined. Somehow, they had trouble fitting in Thor. He gets one mission but isn’t quite relevant to the overarching story. Overall, the game needs some polish. Even with its rough edges, I am having a blast. If they stick to it, maybe reduce the ridiculous prices in the market place and expand upon this foundation, we could have an amazing experience for years to come. It all depends on Crystal Dynamics keeping their word.
Alright, we’re jumping into the rest of the story. Here’s your mandatory spoiler warning. I will talk about the major story moments and the ending. Only continue at your own risk.
A Quest to Assemble
Shortly afterward, we get a hilarious sequence of Tony putting together a make-shift suit. It eases you into the controls for the iconic character while also showing Tony thinking on his feet. I loved the idea that he didn’t instantly get his iconic suit back. We see him create a makeshift one that is at the edge of breaking during his first solo mission. Sadly, this short flying section is the only mission of its kind. I did wish they upped his flying speed a bit here to make it a bit more fast-paced but it was a great change of pace. His recruitment also means we can fix the Chimera and get it airborne again. Former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and Hank Pym’s Inhuman resistance join you in your effort, while you do some missions for them.
Kamala gets confronted by Dante, who comic fans might recognize as Inferno from the comics or Marvel Rising, she rushes to infiltrate a highly guarded Inhuman prison. As she tries to embiggen beyond her limits, she is captured and is confronted by our main villains once again. Throughout the game, we see George turn into M.O.D.O.K. due to some formula that is injected into him by Monika. We see the first confrontations between them. Luckily, Tiny Dancer turns out to be Black Widow who infiltrated A.I.M. since A-Day to uncover what happened that day. It was strange that Kamala got more stealth sections than the game’s spy. This mission ends in a showdown with Monica, who ends up getting captured.
A Short-Lived Victory
Finally, the Avengers had some kind of victory. Sadly, it didn’t last long before George attacked the Chimera mid-flight. Thor joins the fight and keeps the Helicarrier from crashing into downtown Manhattan. Even as they lost quite a bit on the way, they still had proof that Tarleton was behind the reactor explosion on A-Day. Yet, the decyphered video reveals that it was Captain America that caused it. It ends up in an extremely well-done dramatic moment as Bruce and Tony end up fighting and destroying what is left of the Helicarrier. It was only a bit bizarre that suddenly everyone just vanished before ending the next mission. She luckily realizes that they are hiding something in space, which leads to probably my favorite segment in the game.
The space station reveals that Captain America is alive. He was put on ice by Monica. His blood was used as the healing serum on Tarleton that transformed him into M.O.D.O.K. This was the final straw. In his rage, he ends up using it on Monica and seemingly killing her. He then starts his plan to erase Inhumans with Terrigen gas. In a final showdown, every Avenger has to use their unique abilities to take him down. Yet, he has one last trick up his sleeve. He brings a Kree sentry from beneath the ocean. It was the reason that the Terrigen was acting up during A-Day. Kamala’s arc finally reaches it’s climax, as she embiggens to have a one-on-one fight. Finally, the Avengers are united, and M.O.D.O.K. is defeated. After the credits, Monica is revealed to still be alive. The sentry wasn’t quite done yet either, as it sends a beacon into space.
A Future to Behold
What sells the story is that it was planned throughout. If you play close attention, some early plot points become relevant later on. Especially the post-credit reveal of Monica was teased throughout the game. Kamala’s arc is a fantastic coming-of-age story while also giving us a unique look at what it means to be an Avenger. There are some amazing performances and I hope that with each new Avenger, they will also offer unique missions for the original six. As the Avengers Initiative starts with Kate Bishop, be sure to keep an eye out for future articles and journal entries on how the game unfolds.