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Marvel Heroes Review:
Everybody wants to be a superhero and/or wants to be rescued by one. Potentially this is why so many superhero movies are being made today, as well as video games. Marvel Heroes allows you to take up the masks of superheroes from the Marvel Universe in an action-RPG game. Your task is to stop Dr. Doom who seeks to take over the world using mystical artifacts of great power. On the way though, you do encounter many other supervillains who are more than eager to destroy you.
Initially you have a choice of one of five free heroes: Daredevil, Storm, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Thing. Unfortunately you are not given any stats about these heroes at the time. To change to a new hero requires either purchasing them with real money or collecting Eternity Splinters to purchase them in-game. Collecting enough splinters can take a long time, as they are not a very common drop, but at least they can be dropped by any enemy, instead of being limited to the bosses.
The graphics are not particularly impressive, as the game tries to keep to a cartoony style, but this style is very fitting. There are also some nice effects, such as distortion behind Hawkeye's arrows. Also it has employed a fairly decent system to remove structures, like walls and pipes, from your view as you walk in front of them. They kind of melt away on the screen to reveal what is behind, as opposed to just showing outlines of characters. Graphical performance is very good, although loading times could be better. When lag occurs though, you can see it. Other players will jump across the screen or appear to just stop in their tracks. When you disconnect, everything just stops, except for you. You are still able to run around, but enemies will ignore you and your attacks. Fortunately when you log back in, everything is how you left it, just you spawn at a waypoint. Enemies are still dead and the map is still revealed.
Like other action-RPGs, you control the action almost completely with your mouse, as movement and attacks are mapped to it. The combat controls do have one mechanic implemented that I wish was in more action-RPGs. When you click on an enemy and hold the button down, you will attack that enemy until they die. If before they died you move your cursor to a different enemy, still holding the button down, your character will switch to attacking this new target, once the first is dead. Instead of having to click to select each target, you can just press-and-hold for an entire battle. Useful items, such as medkits, can be bound to the keyboard. The Tab key is also used to switch between a minimap in the corner and a semi-transparent minimap displayed on the center of the screen. You are never able to turn off the minimap.
When killed, enemies have a chance to drop credits, gear, crafting materials, and orbs. There are different kinds of orbs that provide you with different things, including health, energy, and perhaps most importantly, experience. Instead of only getting experience whenever you kill something, you can collect the orbs that drop for more experience. Luckily it does appear that the loot and orbs you see are only available to you, so there is no mad-rush to collect experience.
Thus far the game, with one reasonable exception, is well balanced for single-player. You are able to just run around and do everything on your own and not be overwhelmed. This is a game you can just jump into and play, without having to arrange groups for almost everything. The only exception to the single-player balance is the event bosses. These are bosses or other challenges that spawn in the overworld, have a large amount of health, and can do a fair amount of damage. As they spawn in the overworld though, every player is able to come and help defeat them, so these have been balanced for multiple people to fight.
Sometimes you may find yourself thrown into groups for certain arenas. It appears these arenas are considered private, so no one can just appear and get credit for a battle you mostly completed. However, if you enter the arena at approximately the same time as other players, you are apparently teamed up for that arena. Afterward you can freely leave the group.
Is this a pay-to-win game? No. A player's ability to purchase in-game items with real money is mostly limited to new heroes and costumes. The costumes you may not be able to purchase any other way, but the heroes can be bought with an in-game currency. Of course it would be nice if that in-game currency dropped more often, but at least it drops from any enemy.
Personally I am finding Marvel Heroes to be a lot of fun. It is a very well designed game for its genre, even compared to titles you have to purchase. Of course the purchased titles are more likely to have greater depth to their gameplay, but that does not make this game any less enjoyable. I am sure I will get back in it soon, so I can stop Dr. Doom and hopefully unlock another hero to play with.