Have you ever wondered what would happen if you let the team behind the X-Com games loose on the Marvel back catalogue? No? Well… 2K has and it’s what they have done with Firaxis Games latest game Marvel’s Midnight Suns. This may look like X-Com with a Marvel skin, but dig under the surface and you’ll find a very interesting take on the systems used in games like Fights in Tight Spaces and John Wick Hex. Here you build a team of three heroes, each with their own deck of cards and head into battle to defeat the forces of evil and more than a few well known super villains.
For a game based in the Marvel universe, you can expect a solid tale to push you through the battles and keep you hooked along the way. The evil Doctor Faustus – who is working for HYDRA – has used dark magic and “science” to raise Lilith (the big bad) from her eternal slumber hoping that she’ll help HYDRA to conquer the world. Yeah that lasts about 5 minutes before all hell is set loose, leaving it up to the world’s mightiest heroes to put a stop to HYDRA and send Lilith back to where she came from. As tales go it’s a solid offering from Marvel’s Midnight Suns, packed with cameos from across the Marvel universe, as you never know who will cross your path next. It’s worth noting this is very much a comic based tale, than an MCU offering, so don’t expect Robert Downey Jr. or Tom Hiddleston to pop in.
In an interesting move you get to create your own hero (sort of) as you play as the Hunter who is one of Lilith’s children, who stopped her in the past but is awoken to hopefully do it again. It’s a blank character for you to make your mark on and also adds an almost fish out of water edge to the tale, as you are more Knights of the realm than downtown Manhattan. Marvel’s Midnight Suns gameplay is very much a strategy affair as it’s really about knowing your cards and knowing when to play the right ones. Each hero has a basic few cards that will grow as you level up… bringing in more unique attacks based on their powers. This will see you having to edit your deck and with cards costing points in battle, you’ll have to really think how to best balance your team. You can also use the limited environments you battle in to your advantage too, so you can push enemies off edges or into electrical boxes, so it’s worth having a few push-based attacks in your deck.
When not battling the forces of evil you get to explore the Abbey and its surrounding grounds. There you’ll find a few collectables, as well as being able to talk to other members of your team to build your bond. The stronger your bond, the more powerful you will be able to fight as a team. The Abbey is an interesting idea but after an epic battle it kills the momentum a fair bit, having to run around talking and upgrading your kit when all you want to do is clobber some HYDRA troopers again. Visually the game is a mixed bag with cut scenes often being overly soft and blurry at times, but in-game is crisp and the cast all look good with a few nice effects on show. Voice acting it’s all over the shop, from good one minute to murder the next. It’s a real rollercoaster that does impact the game a bit, especially given you spend so long talking during the Abbey sections.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns has a solid foundation and a great core gameplay system that is held back a bit by voice acting and writing and the stop-start nature of things just now, as you would rather do battle than watch a sci-fi flick with Blade.
An Xbox review copy of Marvel’s Midnight Suns was provided by 2K’s PR team, and the game is available now on Xbox, PC and PlayStation for around £60.