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The Avengers Game That Could Have Been
With the release of The Avengers on May 4th, one would expect a movie based tie-on game to follow. Every major Marvel motion picture has had a game release alongside its big picture counterpart from Iron Man to Captain America: The First Avenger. And yet besides the turn-based RPG Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance, no such game on the big boy consoles exists. A game was in development over at THQ Studio Australia before the studio got closed down and showed real promise from a video showing off a leaked alpha build. Based on just those few minutes of footage there were signs that this game was actually going to be something special instead of the usual movie-to-game tragedy that manifests itself when these games release.
For starters instead of Sega handling the publishing duties it was handed over to THQ. Looking at Sega’s past Marvel movie games, this is a very good thing. Even though various developers were used on the Marvel movie games they all had something in common: they were mediocre at the very best. Captain America: Super Soldier was passable as a Batman: Arkham Asylum knockoff, but games like Iron Man 2 and Thor: God of Thunder were abysmal. Superheroes like Iron Man and Thor deserve a quality video game adventure, and Sega just wasn’t capable of getting that done. No matter who took over the Marvel games in the future, as long as it wasn’t Sega at the helm, it was bound to be an improvement. Currently Disney Interactive has since taken over all development duties for future Marvel movie video game products. Lets hope that they can raise the bar for these types of games, and succeed where Sega has failed.
THQ Australia decided to bypass the usual third-person action genre that 90 percent of all superhero games seem to limit themselves too. Instead a first-person perspective was chosen, truly putting you in the shoes of either Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, or Captain America. More characters could have existed though (controlling Hawkeye could have been awesome in first-person.) If nothing else, smashing people as the Hulk from a different view point would have been something different and give the game a look and feel all its own.
Based on the experience points popping off of the enemies its clear that the game had some RPG trappings surrounding it. I got a pretty big Darkness 2 vibe from the video. And four player co-op? Sign me up! Marvel Ultimate Alliance was one of my favorite cooperative experiences, along with Borderlands. If THQ Australia managed to somehow pull something like this off, I would imagine many gamers would be dying to play it.
While the game surely would have been released around this time to accompany the movie, it wasn’t using the movie’s fiction or visual style. Instead it was seemingly taking place right within the comic book 616 universe which gave the developers many more creative options.
Characters like Spider-man and Wolverine are currently on the Avengers in the comics, but they’ll never exist in the Marvel movies or Marvel movie games, at least no time soon. 20th Century Fox owning the X-men and Fantastic Four movie rights while Sony owning the movie rights to the Spider-man films prevent any of them from being in the Marvel games or movies. In this game that wouldn’t be an issue, nor would using any of the established Marvel lore. Skrulls with Wolverine’s claws and Cyclops’s optic blasts? No problem. Or how about having Apocalypse being a boss at some point? Even simply having those other characters around would go a long way in making the player feel like they’re a smaller part of a much bigger superhero puzzle.
The game didn’t seem to shy away from showing how badass and violent these characters can be. Snapping necks as the Hulk or exploding heads as Iron Man would really emphasize the power these characters wield.
I’m puzzled as to why Disney (who now owns Marvel) didn’t pursue development with another studio after THQ Australia was closed, or simply continue it themselves at Disney Interactive. The potential was there, it had a lot of interesting ideas at the very least. On the upside maybe this is a sign that Disney legitimately cares about the quality of their Marvel video game products going forward, and that that game didn’t meet their new standards. Maybe one day we’ll see a game like this actually make it to the store shelves, but until then I guess I’ll go back to beating Marvel: Ultimate Alliance for the 14th time.