Control Is A Better Superhero Game Than Marvel’s Avengers Could Ever Be

Released nearly a year apart, Crystal Dynamics’ Marvel’s Avengers and Remedy Entertainment’s Control, though vastly different in terms of presentation, are actually remarkably similar. Both feature an unwitting female protagonist thrust into wild new situations while gaining new superhuman abilities, both seek to allow players to fulfill their Marvel movie-fueled power fantasies, and both launched with some pretty jarring technical issues on consoles. Yet, while a lot of players automatically flocked to the Avengers title to don their best super spandex, Control turned out to be the more engaging and faithfully-delivered superhero simulator.

There’s no shortage of hot takes and controversial opinions concerning Marvel’s Avengers. However, most people seem to agree that, despite bearing the framework of a worthwhile game, Crystal Dynamics’ product ended up feeling like a confused mishmash of ideas that lacked any real sense of cohesion. Nowhere is this more evident than in the interactions between the heroes.

Though lovable and larger-than-life for the first few hours, the titular Avengers team grows to be really grating after a while. Thor’s cocky quips prompt tired eye-rolls, Iron Man just flat-out won’t shut up most of the time, and even Kamala Khan – a new inductee to the brigade of superheroes – falls a bit flat, going from a relatable fangirl to a bright-eyed idealist with little growth in between. On top of that, gameplay isn’t nearly interesting enough to hold the title up on its own, so the lack of compelling characters and an average-at-best plot tank what could otherwise have been an interesting action movie substitute.

Similar criticism could be leveled at Control’s Jesse Faden; though she overcomes a great amount of adversity throughout her quest to find her brother and repel the Hiss invasion, she seems to change very little throughout her journey, and her character arc is so flat that she serves more or less as a self-insert silent protagonist despite her many lines of dialogue. That being said, her quest for answers and begrudging acceptance of her new role as Bureau director make her more interesting than the boisterous, obvious cast of Marvel’s Avengers, and the game’s story is more than engaging enough to keep you on your toes.

The ability to play as and swap between Marvel’s famous lineup of heroes was the number-one selling point of 2020’s Avengers title. Yet, despite the incredible success of the Disney-led Marvel Cinematic Universe, games based on the comic book characters remained few and far between. This title was set to finally put an end to that trend, and, though it holds the attention of some fans through pure spectacle, the combat and gameplay – particularly on the multiplayer side of things – feel far too shallow. Awash with repetitive boss fights and by-the-numbers enemy encounters, Marvel’s Avengers just doesn’t offer enough unique content to sate the average player’s Hulkish appetite.

That’s before we even mention the bugs and performance issues, which have impinged on the game for many people. Major triple-A titles releasing in pseudo-Early Access states has been an upsetting trend for some time now, but Marvel’s Avengers shattered the unpolished, borderline-broken norm with crashes and freezes left, right, and center. A relatively mediocre title to begin with, Marvel’s Avengers remains a mess nearly half a year after release, leaving many to question exactly what the future holds for the once-promising title.

Control had its fair share of issues, as well. The game still runs relatively poorly on consoles, particularly on base PS4 and Xbox One, and the next-gen version of the title was both delayed to February 2021 and made exclusive to the Complete Edition. Still, the difference in performance between Control and Marvel’s Avengers remains night-and-day, and even the relatively formulaic third-person combat of the former is made more tolerable by the game’s well-paced story and progression systems.

In fact, though both games feature relatively standard upgrade paths, skill trees, and unlocks, Control does it with far greater grace and tact. In Remedy’s title, new skills and abilities are given out evenly throughout the campaign, making Jesse feel noticeably more powerful by the time the player reaches some of the end-game content. In contrast, Marvel’s Avengers turns character upgrades into a slog, demanding players to grind for just about everything – and that’s before we even mention the Battle Pass. While Control emphasizes Jesse’s powers and invites the player to master everything, Marvel’s Avengers sacrifices the genuine feeling of being a superhero in order to further incentivize microtransactions. What’s more, Avengers’ focus on multiple characters does more harm than good, intensifying the tedium and inadvertently highlighting the more streamlined and focused Control.

Monetization is the operative word here. More so than its myriad technical issues, the monetization strategies employed in Marvel’s Avengers are heinous enough to ruin the experience for most. Seemingly imitating Bungie’s Destiny series to a fault, Avengers’ multiplayer eagerly dumps players into a small hub world at every turn, a location seemingly designed to squeeze as much money out of you as possible.

Overloaded with cosmetics and emotes, to say nothing of the aforementioned battle pass system, the game feels like a poorly-veiled attempt at syphoning off as much money as possible from its player base. This is par-for-the-course for so-called live-service titles these days, but, attached to a 60-dollar price tag and with promised free content updates coming more slowly than expected, these issues, for many, feel like the final insult.

Interestingly enough, Control seems tailor-made to be a live-service game. Though there’s no multiplayer to speak of, the game’s upgrade system could easily have been tweaked to increase grind and incentivize microtransactions, and the title’s cosmetics, weapons, and powers could well have been locked behind a greedy battle pass system. However, Remedy and 505 Games took the high road, offering no recurring expenditures or “surprise mechanics,” with the only add-on content coming in the form of two well-received expansion packs.

Again, though vastly different in terms of presentation and narrative, Marvel’s Avengers and Control are, in quite a few ways, shockingly similar. Both seek to deliver a high-octane, super-powered thrill ride of an experience. However, the former title squanders its legendary IPs, sacrificing the authentic, unbridled superhero experience in favor of a repetitive, uninspired gameplay grind. Control, releasing roughly a year ahead of Avengers, avoids most of its competitors’ pitfalls and delivers a more robust, unrestrained experience – and it does so without the help of any well-known comic book icons.

NEXT: Everything You Need To Know About Marvel’s Avengers In 2021

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