Holy Crap….Did Marvel Heroes ever catch me off guard. When I first saw this game about a year ago, I had the same thought as everyone else, “Oh sweet, a Diablo 2 clone. This is gonna suck.” WHAT A FOOL I WAS! Marvel Heroes may be a Diablo 2 clone, but there is a VERY GOOD reason for that. David Brevik, the visionary behind Diablo and Diablo II (President and COO of Gazillion Entertainment to boot), helped mold this game into what I wish Diablo 3 would have been. Teaming up with Marvel super-scribe Brian Michael Bendis, they’ve crafted a plot where you must stop a cosmic cube wielding Doctor Doom.
The kicker is Marvel Heroes is a free-to-play game. There is a hard currency system for buying in game items, boosts, and additional characters. Additional costumes are also available so you don’t have to be boring ol’ derp eye’d Spider-Man like everyone else. Additional costumes can be found ONLY as rare drops, like the Colossonaut skin, so its not all pay-to-win.
Did I mention its a Diablo clone? If your familiar with the play style, not much has changed. Use the mouse to move around and aim your attacks. Skills are bound to 6 keys, giving you 8 active skills including the left and right mouse buttons.
Each Hero has 3 skill trees with certain skills in each that synergize with each other and 1 ultimate ability. Every Hero has their own unique power bar, i.e Colossus has an Armor life bar that regenerates or Jean Grey gains Phoenix power to transform into something similar to D3′s Wizard’s Archon Form.
Sporting 9 chapters, you’ll hit about 30 by the time you finish the game. Using the classic way point system, travel to different locales on various missions. Enter unique dungeon instances and get grouped in the auto-party system, no need to LFG.
The game offers a NPC donation system. The player can instead of selling their trash items, donates them for XP to level up the vendors for better items and crafting options. A high level crafting vendor allows the player to turn blues (Rares) into purples (Epics) and add offensive and defensive effects to their costumes.
One of my favorite aspects Marvel Heroes gets right is Boss runs. The introduction of event (world) boss’s lets everyone get a piece of the action. Watch your screen lag (only occasionally) as 100 players take down villians like Venom, Rhino, or Blob and Toad. Once defeated, bosses drop medallions that bind on equip. These medallion each have a unique boost and differing stats, meaning you can keep coming back for it til you get the perfect one.
The graphics are on par with Diablo 3, nothing machine breaking. All your favorite Marvel characters look just as you remember them from the comics. Great visual effects when you use yours skills, lots of attention to detail. The environments look amazing, taking the player to all sorts of iconic places like the Avengers’ Tower, Xavier’s Mansion, The Savage Land, and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier.
The loading screens feature some sweet character and scenery art. Hopefully they add more though, currently I’m staring at the same handful of screen. Its not like Marvel has countless Artists to make more.
The cutscenes are done as motion comics, which is a BRILLIANT IDEA! These fully dubbed clips are sprinkled throughout the chapters and help the story unfold. Though not at impressive as Blizzard’s CGI cutscenes, the style Gazillion chose feels right.
The music sounds just like the themes in the Marvel Studios movies. I swear I’ve heard that tune from the Avengers when they are all kicking ass with team-up moves. It all feels really Heroic. Sadly, the Xmen animated series theme is no where to be found…
The voice talent in this game also really help bring it to life. Most of the voices are close to their cartoon series counterparts. Steve Blum, Nolan North, Tara Strong, and Keith David to name a few. All of the cutscenes are fully voiced, as well as most of the quest dialog. Characters throw out little quips as they pass friends, enemies, pick up items, talk to vendors, etc.
Did I mention its a Diablo 2 clone? LOTS PEOPLE STILL PLAY THAT GAME!!! Dailies, PvP and End-Game Content, loot/level grinding, and the introduction of new Marvel characters and costumes should keep this game fresh for years to come. This free-to-play game, like League of Legends, will actually make you spend your money on it happily. But honestly it isn’t required to have fun in this game, since there are rare drop chances of picking up the items and characters you can pay for. In my opinion, spending money in Marvel Heroes is supporting a great game and ensuring there’s more content to come. For less than the usual $60 of any new title, you could buy 1 or 2 of your favorite characters for $20 and start leveling.
WILL YOU JUST PLAY IT ALREADY!!! Is FREE too much for you? Scared you might spend money on it? Just give it a try and get through the boring prologue (its probably the worst part of the game and its 5 mins long). Once you’ve reached the actual game and start running around with other players, it’ll start to sink in how much this game got it right. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2 were a success in their own right, but I didn’t imagine this game would hit me in the nostalgia so hard. Still kicking myself for not buying in sooner and getting some of the exclusive content in the founders pack.
Overall, I think some of the price points might scare people away from this game outright. I agree that the costumes are overpriced, but I’m sure there will be sales. I’m optimistic that the game will be around long enough to go through one or two expansions with TONS of new characters being added periodically. There’s a quality free game to play here and its possible to get by without spending anything. If you enjoy Diablo 2 or Torchlight and you care somewhat about Marvel lore, you’re gonna wanna download this game off Steam ASAP. Then, judge if its worth dropping some dough to enhance the experience. Marvel Heroes is currently in development for Mac, so soon enough everyone can play. Join ‘PhatTyla’ as I strive to create the tankiest Colossus you ever did see and whoop some fools in PvP.
UPDATE: I’ll have a follow up review to cover the End-Game Content and PvP just as soon as I reach it. Tune in next time!LATED POSTS FOUND!