Earlier this month Marvel Heroes, a new massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, launched with much fanfare in the PC gaming world. Players can log in and become one of their favorite Marvel heroes, or heroines, as they battle to stop Doctor Doom as well as villains such as Magneto, Doctor Octopus, Kingpin and organizations like HYDRA and the Hand.
But how does it rate? And how does it compare to other comic book MMO games already on the market?
Click below for a detailed look and comparison!
Marvel Heroes plays a lot like the Diablo franchise from Blizzard or, if you’re a fan of Marvel and games based on their characters, it’s a lot like playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance. It’s ‘top down’ and not ‘first person,’ which can take some getting used to if it’s unfamiliar turf. The game was created using Unreal Engine 3 and it works quite well for superheroic action. The game is very visually appealing and it looks very slick. There’s also a lot of extensive and character-specific voice work that is also highly enjoyable. The only voice that really fails is Spider-Man; the character sounds like a 12-year old with crippling ADD.
In the past, most MMO games required a monthly subscription to play. But as the MMO market began to shrink the game houses moved towards a different model: free to play. In essence there is no monthly charge and the client is often free to download (as is the case with Marvel Heroes). However, players playing for free may not be able to enjoy all the features of the game. Some content may be restricted, or other utility functions may be disabled, such as access to social features. Many of these games off a ‘cash shop,’ where you can pay for upgrades to the content to make it more enjoyable. Marvel Heroes falls into the ‘cash shop’ variety. To start, every player only has character that they must select from five available: The Thing, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Daredevil or Storm. If a player wants to play another hero the player must either find one in game (which drops as ‘loot’ very, very, very rarely) or they can purchase one from the cash shop.
Before you pull your daggers out, remember: the developers of the game (Gazillion) produce games to make money, not for the altruistic purpose of helping all of humanity. Since you’re not even paying to purchase the game itself that’s not a bad way to go. To reward them for making a fun game I did buy several other heroes and additional costumes. I started off playing the Thing but then moved on to Hulk, Thor, Rocket Raccoon, Captain America, Iron Man, Punisher, Ms. Marvel, Black Panther (the first one I paid for, actually!) and Spider-Man.
The storyline was apparently written by Brian Bendis. It takes the characters to a myriad of locations and puts them against a nice array of villains. It’s also told through motion comic cut-scenes between many of the missions.
So how does the game hold up against its competitors? The first super hero MMO was City of Heroes, which closed its doors last December. It was a very popular game but its owner, NCSoft, decided to end it. Not long after Champions Online and DC Universe Online both hit the market. Champions Online was actually developed as a Marvel MMO but the project fell through halfway through development. When this happened, Cryptic (which is the same company that produced City of Heroes for NCSoft) bought the game rights to the successful Champions superhero tabletop role playing game. DC Universe, run by Sony Online Entertainment, lets you create a character in the DC Universe (as a hero or a villain!) and lets you either worth with/for or battle against some of its most iconic characters. There’s nothing quite like rolling up a villain in Gotham and have the Mark Hamill Joker start giving you missions! Both are free to play and both are far larger when it comes to the actual game world. Marvel Heroes is far more structured and linear. The biggest difference in these games is that Champions Online will let you create your own hero, DC Universe will let you create your own hero or villain, and Marvel Heroes only lets you play with its own stable of heroes. It’s a little immersion breaking when you’re playing as the Thing and then you see another Thing run right by you. Followed by another… and another.
Some quick Pros & Cons to finish out this quick review:
– The visual design and voicework is extremely pleasing.
– The mechanics are simple enough to learn.
– The game can automatically group you for some of the tougher boss fights.
– You get to play as iconic Marvel Heroes.
– Rocket Raccoon rocks your lame ass.
– The main story only takes you about halfway through the level system. The rest is repeating a lot of the same fights on harder levels with more people.
– You cannot create your own hero. You are locked in to Marvel’s heroes.
– There is no real tutorial; you’re kind of on your own.
– Hero drops that let you play as other heroes are very, very rare and the cash shop can get pricey.
– Spidey is basically an annoying kid that won’t shut up.
REVIEW: 3.75 out of 5 Webheads. It’s fun but it could have been better. They continue to update and change the game so I am hoping it will get even better. I have had many fun nights playing the game with fellow Crawl Spacers AmFan15 and FSUSpiderFan!
–‘Gorgeous George’ Berryman!