The Avengers' Hawkeye (lovingly referred to by comic scribe Matt Fraction as Hawkguy) gets a lot of flak from fans and movie-goers for being the guy with the bow and arrow trying to keep up with the equivalent of spandex-wearing gods, but I'll pit my level 15 Hawkeye against your level 1 Hulk any day.

I spent a substantial portion of this past weekend taking Clint Barton through the first few chapters of Marvel Heroes, the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game currently in closed beta testing at Gazillion Entertainment. I referred to the game as Diablo with superheroes in the past (even the development team refers to it as such), and these weekend's arrow-fest did nothing to shake the label. This is an old school isometric action RPG where anything is possible as long as you have enough healing potions (med kits) and stat-enhancing equipment drops from defeated enemies like fall leaves.

Why'd I pick Hawkeye instead of one of the heavy hitters like The Hulk or Iron Man? For one, I'm holding out for Rocket Raccoon and Squirrel Girl, two characters confirmed for the game's launch. I also like the color purple. Ultimately the decision to stick with the archer came after I had gotten him to level 5. I switched to The Hulk (switching characters your own is just a matter of pressing a button and waiting for a meter to fill) and was instantly taken down by a group of elite street thugs.


I can't imagine The Hulk being taken down by a street gang. Hawkeye? Sure. All the time. He's probably getting beaten up by one right now. Somebody should help him.

So I focused on the violet fletcher for believability's sake. Under my gently guiding hand he took on the Advanced Idea Mechanics forces that had taken over the Raft in the game's prologue. Using a combination of simple arrow attacks (left button) and kicking (right button) I took down the Living Laser and the Green Goblin, each dropping a special badge I could equip to add a little extra power to my character.

I didn't die until I reached Daredevil's stomping grounds, the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen, filled with street gangs powerful enough to take down the Hulk. Here I ran into my first set of elite (Marvelous) enemies, and despite my newly-learned frost and shock arrow attacks I was not prepared. When I awoke I was back at the makeshift base atop a nearby brownstone. Misty Knight was there to sell me health kits and equipment. Dagger (of 'Cloak and' fame) offered healing.


Once my inventory was full of health kits I was pretty much unstoppable. I stormed through Hell's Kitchen, took on the Shocker in the subway and moved on to the Club District of Hell's Kitchen, where a mysterious and powerful artifact was snatched from my grasp by crime boss The Hood.

The villain led me on a merry chase through a construction site filled with Maggia henchmen. I stumbled upon a villain training school run by the Taskmaster. I avoided the wandering Venom, a boss fight meant for grouped players and too powerful for a lone archer, even one that had crafted himself a black and gold Ronin costume using salvaged items and a pattern purchased in the in-game store.

Marvel Heroes is a whirlwind of Marvel settings and characters (whatever happened to Whirlwind, anyway?). I journeyed to Madripoor, fighting snake men and Hand Ninjas. I battled the alien Brood. I went back to Hell's Kitchen and took on the wandering Electro all by myself and won. With so much source material to work with it's hard to imagine Gazillion ever running short of content.

It's still weird being a level 15 Hawkeye. Not because of the level, but the idea of being 'a' Hawkeye instead of 'the' Hawkeye. I didn't see many other players during my limited beta test time, but out of the six or so I did come across, three of them were me. We could have grouped up and formed an all-Hawkguy party.

I'm going to have to imagine some DC-level parallel universe hoodoo in order to set my head right will all of the copied characters. Maybe Gazillion will wise up and add Jamie "Multiple Man" Madrox to the game. Until then I'll just have to deal with being one of them there level 15 Hawkguys.

Sign up for the Marvel Heroes beta here for your chance to be a level 15 Hawkguy.