Sometimes, I play video games to get out of my head for an hour or two. A bit of gaming allows me to numb myself after a stressful day at work or to relax through a bout of insomnia once I become too damn tired to read but not sleepy enough to drift off. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: the Black Order for the Nintendo Switch offers just the right amount of a dumb plot, decent graphics and button mashing to scratch my escapist itch.
For the past few years, everything in Marvel’s cinematic universe and many of their comics have revolved around the Infinity Stones. You’ll find no exception here. If you’ve seen a trailer for Avengers Endgame, you’ve got the broad strokes of this game’s story. Infinity Stones are powerful. Infinity Stones are bad. Bad people want them. It’s a plot that a wee kid could follow, which I suppose is Disney/Marvel’s plan. And why not? It’s a story that’s proven capable of printing its own money.
As you progress through the game’s various levels, you’ll take on progressively tougher foes with a team of four heroes of your choosing. Your roster of potential teammates grows as you bop along. There’s no earning new members... it just kind of happens. I’m a few hours into the game. Disappointingly, the amount of customization allowed for your heroes by the last two iterations of the game appear to be largely absent. There’s no costumes to unlock. No accessories that your heroes can mix and match to enhance their power set: just points and drops that allow you to power up in one way or another. In my opinion, this takes away from some of the strategy that the OG versions of the franchise offered. I loved tooling up Iron Man to be a long-range sniper in the original Ultimate Alliance game. Wolverine was unstoppable once you paired him with the right enhancements. That’s gone.
But that’s OK. At its heart, this is a button-smasher. Little strategy is required to progress through the game, beyond knowing what to hit and when to move the hell out of the way of a level boss’ attack.
What’s not OK is how glitchy this title is to play. The game crashed on me, several times, last week. Video cut scenes (which you can’t choose to opt out of watching, by the way) often looked like this:
So, that sucked.
I also found that I was stymied by shitty camera angles that sometimes prevented me from seeing an objective or an enemy that was kicking the crap out of one of my teammates. Hopefully, these sort of quirks are sorted out in a future update to the game.
Look, this game's mechanics, plot and graphics aren't going to blow you away. But it's a fun game with action that's perfectly designed for the stop-start sort of mobile gaming that the Switch was designed for.
I’m enjoying it. Maybe you will too.