Marvel Powers United VR

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Marvel Powers United VR Game Poster Image
Fun superhero action loses power to repetitive missions.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Standard good versus evil plot emphasizes teamwork, cooperation, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the heroes are positive characters working for good, others are anti-heroes. But no character development occurs during game, so heroes are heroes; villains are villains.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn. Challenge is in remembering the skills and commands for each hero while pulling them off in the middle of combat. Tracking sometimes doesn't work as well as you'd hope it would, forcing repeat controls. Some ranged characters are much easier than characters focusing on hand to hand combat.

Violence

Combat is the focus of the gameplay, with characters casting spells, firing energy bolts, ranged weapons, using their fists and other weapons against human, alien, and robotic enemies. Defeaated enemies cry out in pain, but no blood or gore's shown. Comic book sound effect words ("Boom," "Whoomp") are attached to many attacks, lowering impact of violence.

Sex

Characters are shown in tight outfits, some uniforms of female characters emphasize cleavage.

Language

Unmoderated multiplayer can expose players to inappropriate comments.

Consumerism

Based on Marvel comics, highlights a number of popular characters from its long running history and could raise interest in finding out about these heroes and villains from comic books or movies.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Marvel Powers United VR is a virtual reality game exclusively for the Oculus Rift. Players take on the roles of 18 different heroes from the Marvel comic book universe, which could get them interested in their comics and movies. Some, like Spider-Man and Captain America, are clear heroes that fight for justice and stopping evil; others, like Deadpool and Wolverine, are anti-heroes whose motives aren't always so positive. Combat's a key focus of gameplay, with players fighting against human, alien, and robotic characters using ranged weapons, energy blasts, fists, swords, and other attacks. While enemies cry out in pain, no blood's shown, and comic book sound effects like "Boom" accompany many attacks. Characters are shown in tight outfits, some of which emphasize cleavage for female heroines and villains alike. Parents should also be aware that multiplayer's unmoderated, which could expose players to inappropriate comments. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

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What's it about?

MARVEL POWERS UNITED VR feels like a sequence of fights ripped right from the pages of a comic book. Players initially choose between Captain America and Black Widow to explore the streets of New York City, which is suddenly invaded by a wide number of enemies. Out of nowhere, the twisted terrorists of Hydra, the war-like Kree empire, and Ultron's army of robots launch an all-out attack on the citizens of the Big Apple trying to cause as much damage as possible. But this is all a plot to distract the heroes, because Thanos has gathered a new group of villains to threaten Earth. You and up to three other friends will select from 18 heroes, such as Wolverine, Rocket Raccoon, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel, and prevent evil from destroying the universe across numerous locales and even alien worlds. Can your team stop Thanos from completing his evil scheme?

Is it any good?

This VR comic book adventure makes you feel like your favorite superheroes, but the lack of story and tech issues keeps this one for hardcore comic fans only. Marvel Powers United VR really makes you feel like you've stepped into the boots of your favorite heroes with every movement you make. The sense of scale is incredible – for example, if you choose to play as the Hulk, you feel imposing as you tower over everyone. Each character has five to seven abilities they can use in battle, and attacks can be paired with other heroes to create powerful combos. Successfully defeating enemies gives points, which are redeemed at the end of a battle for unlockable items, like new costumes or equipment from other Marvel characters. But beware: the game ramps up the difficulty based on the strength of your squad's teamwork, throwing more opponents and villains at players in an attempt to stop their progress. The action is very fast paced to keep you on your toes, and it's hard to not work up a sweat defending yourself and your teammates from incoming attacks.

Unfortunately, there's just no story here. Apart from the initial cutscene, you never know why you're fighting a villain (or two) when they attack -- they just appear randomly. Otherwise, gameplay is very repetitive: protect antennas, grab generator energy cells, blast enemies, repeat. Essentially, you're competing with your teammates for a high score instead of saving the day. Worse, the Rift's sensor tracking can make some gesture-dependent abilities for throwing weapons useless. For example, when Captain America threw his shield, it frequently missed its target, unlike Doctor Strange's energy blasts, which were more accurate. That made some characters less fun or appealing to play. With these two large issues, Marvel Powers United VR is great for hardcore comic fans, but for everyone else, you may feel like a sidekick waiting to save the day.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Marvel Powers United VR lessened because of the comic book presentation and lack of blood? Is it intensified because of the constant fighting against a wide variety of enemies?

  • How do you manage to instill positive life skills like teamwork or communication with a group of people that aren't always used to working together? Can you translate the skills necessary to succeed in Marvel Powers United VR to real life activities?

Game details

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