At E3 this week, Square Enix announced something the world's been waiting for: a big budget Avengers video game. The title could bring to life some of the most beloved characters in cinema: Marvel's Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, The Incredible Hulk and Thor.
There was only one problem. The video game avatars look nothing like the characters we've come to know and love over the last decade. And they didn't sound like them either. They were completely different.
Of course people were disappointed. Majorly disappointed. When rumblings about an Avengers game began, most assumed this was going to be the big budget Marvel Cinematic Universe game we've been waiting for, especially since it was being developed by Crystal Dynamics, a team used to working with marquee properties like Tomb Raider.
"We did know a few things," explained Shaun Escayg, in an interview with CNET. "We knew we wanted to make an original Avengers game with an original story. We wanted to go back to the roots, which was the comic books. We were inspired by the comic books. We wanted to make sure our characters lived in our story, and therefore represented our story."
According to Escayg the idea that Crystal Dynamics might use the likenesses or the voices of the Marvel Cinematic Universe cast was never entertained, not even at the beginning of development.
"We wanted to clearly show that this was our spin on the Avengers," he said.
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Last year, Insomniac Games released Spider-Man, a game that did much the same thing. The difference being that, as an audience, we're used to Peter Parker being played by different actors (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland). There's an audience who've literally grown up with Chris Evans being their Captain America. It's a different ball game.
Escayg admits it's "challenging."
Perhaps the biggest challenge: Marvel's Avengers clearly borrows from the theatrical language of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In a gameplay demo we saw, the Hulk slapped enemies around much like he did in the Avengers movies. Same goes for Captain America and Iron Man. According to the developers, this isn't a case of the game copying the movies. It's because they're pulling from the same source material.
"I think probably the movies took a similar approach," explained Vince Napoli, the lead combat designer. "They weren't reinventing these characters, right? They're pulling from the same stuff we're pulling from. So when you see the movies do it, it's like, 'Hey, that's one interpretation of it'... Here's our interpretation of something similar. All of that is pulled from the same reference material."
Escayg said he's aware of the "burden" that comes with making an Avengers game of this scale, but he believes he has a story worth telling.
"Go on this journey with us," he asked fans. "Trust me, the story gets really good. Be inspired with us."