Platforms All Current Non-Mobile Platforms Genre Brawler, Interactive Gaming Figures
Platform Played PlayStation 4
Developer Disney Interactive Publisher Disney Interactive
The powers that be at Disney Interactive have been doing their best to stay current with their movies. With Disney Infinity 3.0, we have seen the launch of Star Wars, Inside Out, Zootopia and more on their toys to life platform. It should be no surprise then, that their latest offering is Marvel Battleground. Which is a play set that brings all of the Disney Infinity 2.0 characters along for the ride with a fresh crop of new ones, in a very Super Smash Brothers style game that brings as much frustration as satisfaction. But is the battle across the galaxy worth your time?
I had been looking forward to this game for the wrong reason. I expected the ability to play in an online battle arena against people all over the internet. But that just isn’t the direction Disney Interactive seems to be taking. Their approach is more “build it, share it, and walk away.” The game encourages local couch co-op and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most gamer frustration I hear comes comes from being sick of requiring an online internet connection to play a game. The issue I had is that this game should have been a no-brainer to incorporate online co-op or verses mode but never makes the commitment.
In previous games, you synced one or two characters to your portal, threw on whatever play set crystal, and then moved on through the story or toy box mode. Marvel Battleground takes a different approach. You’ll get to a Battleground screen and see the opaque silhouettes of the key characters from 2.0 and 3.0. As you sync your characters to your portal, each character becomes it’s solid looking self or is added into the mix, and saves to your game. From there, you can select up to four characters on the fly without having to replace the characters on your portal. That mechanic alone has been sorely needed throughout the entire franchise and is a welcome addition. The problem is, that only works in the arena style modes.
The story will still make you swap characters when you die like previous games. And the most interesting thing is your inability to add the Star wars, Inside Out, or Zootopia characters into the game. Settle down, I fully understand it doesn’t make any sense to mix those properties. But this is still a Disney Infinity fighting game, and as I look to my right and see Darth maul, Finn, Luke Skywalker, Poe Dameron, Ray, and Han Solo all staring in different directions, I can’t help but feel cheated that I don’t have an additional reason to bring these guys back into circulation. I get that they have no place in the story. But you’re telling me it wouldn’t be amazing to have Luke square off against Iron Man? Han Solo against Hawkeye? Rey against Black Widow? I’m sure it was a continuity issue, but it just seems like they should have at least added a Star Wars Battleground side to the game at least.
As with every play set crystal, you are treated to a story based around different aspects of the Marvel Universe. You’ll visit Wakanda, Knowhere, and other places but only ever as backdrops. There is zero exploration to be had here. You will be fighting, and fighting often. The story is relatively weak compared to how solid The Force Awakens and The Clone Wars play sets were. Two villains that you should have no trouble guessing, have decided to team up and steal the only element worth stealing; Vibranium. You’ll fight your way through waves of weak enemies, stronger doppelgangers, and a few challenging boss battles as you work your way through the story to completion. Sound basic? It is.
This game is a button masher, make no mistake about it. Where The Clone Wars encouraged layers of timed button presses and holds, Marvel Battlegrounds just wants you to beat-up the other guy before they get to you. Variation comes in the form of ranged attacks, held power moves, and the finishers that build up by collecting purple “sparks.” Much like items in SSB, power discs are dropped into the game, and add ally’s, shields, or call in air strikes. You can block, dodge roll, parry blasts, but it just all seems ridged and under cooked. Heaven help you in a four person arena because you can’t lock onto anyone, and switching from character to character is more tedious than rewarding.
It’s not a difficulty setting issue either, it’s just the mechanics of the game. The most fun I had playing, was during the 1v1 battles because I could really just focus on one character and beat them mercilessly. in 4v4 or 2v2, it’s impossible to select a character to throw an item at. The game chooses all that for you. Having played SSB in the past, currently playing Pokken Tournament, and Street Fighter V, I have certain expectations as to the fluidity of a fighting game. It doesn’t need to be free flow combat like Batman: Arkham Knight, but I shouldn’t be getting mad that I can’t cancel an action to block, or choose who I shoot webbing or throw my shield at. And we aren’t talking about some small indie developer with a 10 person team. We’re talking about Disney, here. I can’t make an excuse for a company with seemingly unlimited resources.
I realize I’ve been pretty hard on this play set so far, but I didn’t just review a free version of this. I purchased it because I wanted to try it out, and a lot of this are criticisms as a game editor and a fan of the franchise. I like collecting the characters. The art style of Ant Man and Black Panther are fantastic. I can’t tell you how much fun I have re-creating battles between Hulkbuster and The Incredible Hulk. Between Spider-Man and Venom. There is a lot of lore to sift through and having the IGF figures save to the console makes those fights all the more easy to accomplish. It’s just hard to not be disappointed in the clunky fighting mechanics, lack of online game play, and disregard for other 3.0 content.
Marvel Battleground adds a lot of important elements into a very competitive field. But they make the main component of the game, 4v4 combat, too ridged and frustrating to enjoy. With a weak story and clunky fighting game mechanics, this is a game that will be a welcome addition to Marvel fans and Infinity collectors, but is sure to be hated by fighting gamer’s looking for a new version of Super Smash Brothers.
- Up to four players
- IGF’s save to the game
- New characters!
- Destructible Landscapes
- Unique abilities and finishers
- Limited Combat moves
- No target lock on
- No way to cancel attacks
- Weak story
- No online battle or co-0p
- Most 3.0 characters left out
The Score: 6.5
Devon McCarty couldn’t keep himself from saying “go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep” while fighting the Incredible Hulk. You can chat to him on the Analog Addiction Facebook page, follow his daily life on Instagram and Twitter @DesignatedDevon, drop some sweet love in the comment section below or checkout his YouTube Channel.