LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertaiment
Platforms: PC, 3DS, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PS3, PS4
Release Date: 13th November 2013
Price: $79.95 – Available Here
Everybody loves a superhero. Those powerful figures who bring hope to the hopeless, light to the darkness and seek justice for all. Now, if you know heroes, you know Marvel and Marvel knows heroes…is this getting too confusing? Now Marvel has been through a few updates over the years, we’ve had the Golden Age, the Silver Age, Bronze, Copper, we’re onto Modern now. But it’s time for a new age, a stranger age…a LEGO Age.
Somewhere in the cold depths of LEGO space, the almighty Galactus has decided to have a light snack. Unfortunately for the universe, he’s a little more than peckish. Feeling somewhat unhappy with the celestial buffet before him, he sends his herald The Silver Surfer off on a food run. Being the galactic magnet for trouble that it is, Earth is where the Surfer decides to stop. After a brief aerial altercation, the Surfer is shot down and his Cosmic Surfboard scattered into various pieces, dubbed Cosmic Bricks.
With fragments of the Power Cosmic ripe for the taking, Marvel baddies decide to work “together” to gain the upper hand against the forces of good. The evil mastermind Doctor Doom heads the operation, with the hopes of creating Doctor Doom’s Doom Ray…of Doom. Eloquence aside, a weapon imbued by the Power Cosmic poses a very real threat to the LEGO Marvel world, so its up to our heroes to disassemble this sinister plan. As if it wasn’t bad enough, the situation spirals further out of control when Loki makes an appearance, apparently pulling the strings of the unsuspecting Latverian Monarch.
Naturally, superheroes from throughout the LEGO Marvelverse also decide to gather together to stop the villains in their latest vie for power. As can be expected from a LEGO game, there is a plethora of familiar characters to choose from, and a few not so familiar ones too. Iron Man, Hulk, Emma Frost, Colossus…the list goes on. Though a majority of the story focuses on the Avengers, due to their film popularity, these other characters also appear throughout the game. Apparently the execs even listened to the fan outcry that our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman was left absent from the Avengers line up. The web slinger makes fairly consistent appearances throughout the game, often appearing at the final moments in order to beat the baddies. He even jokingly comes up with reasons for his scattered absence, noting that being a hero and a student is quite difficult…and time consuming. Apparently he’s left Mary Jane at more than one coffee shop, which is probably more than one too many.
The game is also understandably humourous. A number of Marvel characters, such as the previously mentioned Spidey, already enjoy a good joke in the midst of battle, add that to the LEGO games formula…forget about it. Ranging from slapstick and name calling, to quips and referential marvel humour. One of note particular note sees Iron Man teasing Wolverine about his penchant for Canadian jaunts down memory lane…expect the typical Logan reaction.
The core gameplay of LEGO Marvel is identical to the previous TT LEGO titles. In Story Mode, you play as a predetermined set of characters specific to the plot. Whilst they will allow you to complete the level and progress the story, a number of extras and secrets are unobtainable until you return in Free Play mode, which is unlocked by completing the levels Story Mode. In Free Play, you are able to play as any character you have unlocked throughout the game, be they good guy or bad. Though you may only choose your starting character, the game is very helpful in its randomised choices as it will provide you with all character types needed to clear the hidden obstacles. That being said, the game provided AI can be a little…dense sometimes, sometimes deciding to run head first into destruction and others just standing around.
Just as these obstacles have various forms, the LEGO Marvel characters each fall into a certain class, based on their power. The most common categories are big, smart and web slinger. Big characters are imbued with great strength, allowing them to move large obstacles, such as walls and cars. Those in the smart class are able to access control panels in order to hack their way through security. Web slingers include all of the characters capable of pulling down distant objects normally considered unreachable. Amidst these general classes, certain characters also have skills specific to them. For example, Captain America may throw his shield to activate special Shield Switches, a feat no other can complete. Other characters, such as Iron Man and Spiderman, are simple able to move around levels much more freely due to their travel abilities, which you can bet will figure into a puzzle at some point. Though these abilities are inherently useful, they can take a while to master, with precision often being the greatest hurdle. Can’t slow a good web slinger down…even when you want to.
Combat is fairly simple in the game. Though each character possesses unique attacks, such as Hawkeye’s bow and Wolverine’s claws, each employs the same practice. Hit buttons equals hit bad guys. Ranged characters will immediately switch to close combat if necessary, which is a nice touch. Certain characters once again have unique effects in combat, for example Spiderman can web enemies so that they can’t attack. This lends some degree of strategy to the normally simplistic fighting mechanic and prevents battles from being too repetitious. This principle is also applied to boss fights, wherein you must complete certain predetermined tasks to soften the villain up enough for your regular beatdown skills.
Just as in previous LEGO titles, there also exists a portion of the game outside of the missions. In the case of LEGO Marvel, the in between realm is none other than New York City. When not in a specific mission, you will be able to roam not only the streets and rooftops of the big apple, but the SHIELD Helicarrier stationed far above the hustle and bustle. Computers on board the ship serve as your station to replay missions, customise character colouration or, taking it one step further, creating your own unique character. Returning from old titles, you are once again able to mix and match LEGO pieces to create a being of your very own and, depending on your build, gain multiple powers from Marvel heroes. Though there are some limits to what you can combine, being able to make Captain Venomerica is pretty awesome. Or, if you’d rather strengthen existing characters, you can check out the extras. These provide you with a number of bonus powers throughout the game, such as 2x studs, faster building and oh yeah invincibility. If you’ve got the cash, you can get the goods. Just like in the real world.
If customisation and exploring the rather large map isn’t enough to keep you busy, there are a number of side missions scattered throughout the overworld. By talking to various NPCs, you will gain access to a few varied tasks that will net you a gold brick should you complete them. Find wrenchs, wash windows, save a mint Captain America card. There’s so much to do. But first you should really make sure to get those gosh darned snakes off of the gosh darn Helicarrier. Fury was very specific about that one.
As you complete these tasks and build a collection of Gold Bricks, you can gain access to a number of previously locked locations. At certain intervals, you may build golden doorways to such familiar places as Marvel Comics HQ. So why not collect them all and pay Stan Lee a visit? Or just say hi during one of his cameos…or if you choose to rescue him every level…or see him on the street. That guy is everywhere.
Blocky, but in a good way. The characters look like, well, LEGO characters only in very high resolution. There’s definitely more variation in the character models than some of the older games, such as the Hulk, who stands twice as tall as everybody else and just as wide. On the topic of Hulk, the dear Doctor Banner also receives a pretty cool, and quite funny, transformation sequence in game. As you are able to freely switch between the two forms, expect to see Banner slowly grow bulging green biceps, or the Hulk to suddenly have a somewhat confused head adorning his shoulders. One other visual character element of note occurs when fighting classic Spiderman foe the Sandman. During his fight, he naturally transforms into his gigantic sand form to lay the smackdown. Whilst in this form, an absolute ton of small LEGO pieces are used to represent the sand particles that comprise this silicone titan. Though aided by regular sand particles to enhance the effect whilst keeping the visuals from getting too chaotic, the sheer amount of swirling pieces is pretty damn impressive. Also makes it all the more satisfying when you take him apart.
Surprisingly however, not everything in this LEGO world is made of LEGO. A majority of the settings within the game are comprised of seemingly regular materials. Visually, this prevents you from being overloaded by bricks, whilst also allowing you to more easily see objects you may interact with. Stone wall? No go. Golden LEGO brick wall? Might be worth checking out. That being said, you might want to coordinate with your partner should you play coop mode, as the dynamic screen division can be a little disorientating. So try not to run around too quickly, or you won’t be able to tell one LEGO from another. Or just turn it to good old fashioned locked split screen. Or play by yourself.
One of the biggest changes to the LEGO franchise was the inclusion of voice acting, replacing the mime based style that came before it. Naturally, LEGO Marvel continues with the trend as the fourth LEGO title with fully voiced characters, which is something it does rather well. The game features a bevy of well known voice actors, some of whom have been a part of previous Marvel productions. Troy Baker, Steve Blum, Dee Bradley Baker, John DiMaggio…the list just goes on. Agent Phil Coulson, a character featured heavily in the live action Marvel universe, also makes a return with actor Clark Gregg reprising his role. It also wouldn’t be a true Marvel production if Stan Lee didn’t play himself.
The music itself also lends to the style of the live action films. Especially during cutscenes, the music tends to be rather dramatic and orchestral. This adds a sense of intensity to the action of the game, though it is purposely metered by the trademark LEGO game humour. Iron Man also gets a theme that harks back to the self created awesomeness of his rather musical entrances in the films. You can also expect to hear those trademark sounds that make a true LEGO game. Nothing quite like the triumphant boom of completing a Minikit.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is quite frankly awesome. Its got the undeniable cool factor of superheroes, mixed with childish charm of building blocks. The games storyline and characters present a mix of the new film universe, which most people are familiar with, and the comic books. The Avengers take the mainstage due to their popularity and their proliferation through media, not too surprisng really. However, the game does an excellent job of adding in some key figures not from the billion dollar film franchise. From Archangel to Beta Ray Bill, Havok to Rescue. Even the Superior Spiderman makes an appearance. Save the world, fly through the skies of the Big Apple, Go Kart on a beam of light. There’s so much to do and so many characters to be while you do those things. Basically there’s a lot of stuff, a lot of characters and a lot of fun to be had. ‘Nuff said.
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