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Help Me Fix Agents of SHIELD

This is mostly in response to the article over at Heroic Hollywood, Is Marvel’s ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Really Any Good? so maybe check that first.

There was no one more excited by the concept of Agents of SHIELD than me, when it was first announced.  A Whedon-adjacent look at the more mundane aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, led by everyone’s favorite dead SHIELD agent?  Let’s roll!  The reality of the show has been, at times, middling however.  As Jon Negroni points out in the article above, rather than the show being must-see TV for Marvel movie fans, it’s mostly an afterthought.  The episode that tied in to Thor: The Dark World is the perfect metaphor for AoS, as the team were literally picking up the scraps left behind by one of the MCU’s movies.

Not that there hasn’t been some great stuff to enjoy along the way, but beyond the direct link to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, all that’s great about Agents of SHIELD is of their own making.  Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward bored us all to tears as generic SHIELD agent guy…until the HYDRA twist turned our understanding of him on it’s head.  The action directing has been a highlight also.  Really, the only thing that holds AoS back from being spoken of in the same breath as The Flash is the MCU.  The focus (more from the fans than anyone at ABC/Disney/Marvel) is on just how the show will tie-in to the upcoming movies.  “Hey look, Inhumans!” which is particularly rough since the Inhumans movie is now off the schedule, or Lorelei/Sif which is fun but not exactly something that’s going to grab the attention of the movie-goers or the casual TV viewer who sees the promos.

No, the biggest thing Agents of SHIELD could do to increase its quality is…stop worrying about the MCU!  There are signs of that this year, with the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider being a focus, but they need to really lean in to it.  There are plenty of characters that will never get a movie or a TV show, and you already HAVE a show that needs to fill 20+ hours a year.  And has a tendency to have some filler episodes of questionable quality.  Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of sifting through the rubble of the next MCU movie, Coulson and May went on an adventure with Jimmy Woo and Ken Hale?  Or, instead of holding out hope we see another Kree, we see Fitz and Simmons have to figure out how to help defeat the Wrecking Crew?  The Hood.  Shang-Chi.  Moon Knight.  Tombstone.  The Grim Reaper.  Taskmaster.  Most of these characters wouldn’t carry a series on their own (okay, maaaybe Moon Knight) but would work great as a 3-8 episode arc on AoS.

There are signs that AoS may be going down this path this year, with Ghost Rider and some of the other mystical stuff.  The real trick is getting the audience back that may have lost interest.  Is there anyone you’d like to see on the show, or any TV-friendly storylines you’d like them to tackle?

Categories
PC Games Review

State of the Game: Marvel Heroes

TooManyHours
You’ve played a game more than this, right? RIGHT?

Note:  I looked at Marvel Heroes before, but the game has changed even more since then so I’m starting fresh in this article.

I tried Marvel Heroes when it first came out (it didn’t have the ‘2015’ in the name then) but only played about 20 or 30 hours before setting it aside.  Loved the subject matter and style of game (Diablo with Marvel super heroes?  Sold!) but the execution just wasn’t there.  I kept on the e-mail list though, curious to see if the game would die out or come around, and ended up trying the game out again after I got a message about an event that sounded interesting.  As you can see, I’m hooked.

If you are not familiar with the game, Marvel Heroes is an action-RPG where you can play as one of forty different Marvel super heroes and villains.  If you’ve played the Diablo or Torchlight series, you know the style of game.  The difference here is MH is a free to play massively multiplayer action role playing game.  An ‘Action RPG’ is just a role playing game where you click on enemies to attack them, using various abilities directly, rather than selecting attacks from a menu and watching them happen.  ‘Massively multiplayer’ just means hundreds to thousands of users are playing alongside you, though in practice most places you go split you into manageable chunks of players in a particular zone.  ‘Free to play’ means you don’t pay up-front for the game but you can buy stuff, but unlike many games that make F2P a hated term, Marvel Heroes handles it pretty well.  A currency drops every 8 minutes or so, and you can use that to unlock every hero in the game, and many other things like some team-ups.  The main thing you end up running short of is storage space.  You have your inventory, your team-up inventory, and one ‘STASH’ but if you tend to keep interesting gear or play a bunch of heroes, you’ll want to chip in some bucks for extra space.  However, by the time you get to that point you’ll know for sure whether or not you like the game.

In my previous look at the game, I mentioned that the characters hewed pretty close to the standard Diablo archetypes (Ranged, Melee, Pet class) but I’m happy to report that as they’ve gone on, the characters have gotten more and more creative.  Rogue in particular is a ton of fun, as she can steal powers or knowledge from over a hundred heroes and villains in the game – the ultimate in customization.  The unstoppable Juggernaut was just released, and uses his momentum to power hard-hitting movement powers.  The devs are also deep in a process of completely revamping the earliest heroes to bring them up to the level of fun and uniqueness of the newer ones.

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Taskmaster is ready to take you chumps to school.

The story is fun the first few times through, with motion comics as the cutscenes at important spots.  Gazillion has tried to hit all the high notes in Marvel’s stable as far as enemies go, so you fight everyone from Shocker, Doc Ock and the Kingpin to Loki, Doctor Doom and Magneto.  Eventually as you gather more characters, you will not want to just go through the story over and over, and there are more options.  For instance, there is a Midtown Manhattan patrol (and within a few weeks, another Patrol map) where boss fights occur every few minutes.  Holo-Sim pits you against waves of enemies or boss events either solo or with a partner, which X-Defense lets you defend Xavier’s mansion against threats.  Gaz has also released two ‘One-Shot’ stories that exist outside of the story, the Wakandan Mines and the Bronx Zoo, which added the Lizard, Kraven the Hunter and Mr. Hyde.  They also set up ‘terminals’ where you can fight harder versions of some of the story chapters, with chances at better classes of loot or special drops from the bosses.

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Part of the training to defeat Shou-Lao the Undying is how to not check out every mutant who flies by. Also helps to remember that Misty Knight will kick your ass.

There is raid content too, though I’ve never done that – I have too much fun playing each character to the cap and trying the next one.  Cyclops is next, after I finish Taskmaster and Rogue.  I’m also excited for the characters coming this year, as the Winter Soldier, Iron Fist, War Machine and Blade are all on the way.

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One possible way to build Taskmaster.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out our Random Hero box giveaway!