Everyone’s favourite Marvel goodies and baddies return in the latest instalment in the ever-growing Lego franchise, as they battle it out once again for supremacy. The Lego games are famous for having a ridiculous character roster, so the thought of being able to use a vast collection of Marvel superheroes is definitely exciting. With DC Comics already having undergone the Lego treatment, it was only fair that Marvel got a turn as well. After the success of the two Lego Batman games, does this new game live up to the high standards, or will DC get the chance to reign supreme? Read on to find out...
In the opening cut scene, the whole premise for the game is laid out before you. The Silver Surfer is defeated by Doctor Doom, and his board destroyed, turning into powerful black Lego bricks referred to as “Cosmic Bricks”. With these bricks, Doom then forges alliances with other villains from across the Marvel universe, including Loki, Magneto and Red Skull, in an attempt to get the pieces he needs to finish his super weapon. Meanwhile, Nick Fury does the same, uniting the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and a selection of other heroes to stop them.
The first level throws you right into the action, with Iron Man and the Hulk tasked with stopping Sandman and Abomination, who have taken over Grand Central Station. Very quickly, the player is introduced to these heroes’ abilities, as they fight back hordes of enemies, and push their way forwards to stop the villains’ plans. The control scheme is simple, with attacks, abilities, and interactions coming down to just 2 buttons, which is standard across all characters. This makes using a new hero very straight forward, only requiring a quick test to see what powers they have, before being able to use them to the best of their abilities. Swapping control between characters is essential for progress, and is simply done through a press of a button. However, when the party size grows beyond two heroes, swapping can become a bit of a pain as you cycle through them until you get who you want.
Missions fall into a very familiar structure, just in different locations with different characters. As you make your way through the level, you will be stopped from making more progress through a number of varying obstacles, and you are tasked of finding a way past. More often than not, you either need to use one of your heroes’ powers, or construct an object with debris, allowing you to use a power. If you seem stuck and can’t work out where to go, chances are you just haven’t broken enough things in the world to be able to construct what you need. It seems strange that to save the world, everything must be systematically destroyed, but it is definitely advised. Blowing up everything from enemies to flowers gains you Lego pieces, which can be used post game to purchase unlocked characters for use in free mode, be it free roaming around the city of New York, or replaying an earlier mission with access to extra characters. This is essential for completionists, as levels include a number of collectibles that can only be accessed by going back with new characters for their own personal power.
During levels you will obviously find yourself fighting villains from the Marvel universe, and these showdowns can be fun, but again fall in to the usual formula of repeating a particular action 3 times until they’re defeated, whilst avoiding their minions. On top of that, they never feel hard, nor does the rest of the game for that matter, for the simple reason that there is no penalty for dying. The character just respawns again at the same place.
In total, there are 15 missions in the main story line, but this makes up a surprisingly small amount of the game, with the majority becoming available once you finish. In free roam there are a multitude of side missions to complete for the citizens of the city, some of which require specific heroes to complete. For example, you may be required to mind control a guard at a building to open a gate, or activate a switch designed for claw weapons. Other missions can only be activated when particular characters are unlocked, which can take a lot of effort to do. Some are only available for purchase after completing tasks inside missions, which are very easy to miss unless you know what you are looking for. In total, there are over 100 characters to play as, with some even having multiple skins which come with their own powers.
Finally, you can access certain buildings in the city, such as the Marvel headquarters, or the base of one of the main protagonists such as Stark Tower. These have small little missions, narrated by the wise-cracking Deadpool, that sometimes require a little extra thought over the normal story to solve, and make for a nice change of pace.
Being a Lego game, there is a lot of terribly brilliant jokes that will have you laughing and shaking your head at the same time. It’s a tried and tested formula that works great, and the Marvel comics are a perfect backdrop to it. On top of the physical comedy that is always prevalent in these games, characters like Tony Stark, Spiderman and Deadpool add a constant layer of puns, references, and overall witty dialogue that is very entertaining throughout your stay in New York City.
The missions may be a bit easy and repetitive, but the story is solid, and the overall gameplay is fun. There is such a large selection of characters to unlock, and many collectibles to find, that to get the most out of the game, you will be playing for a very long time. The main story lasts around 15 hours, but only constitutes about 15% of the overall game. If you’re a fan of either the Lego games or the Marvel comics, this is definitely a game worth playing, and if you’re not, it’s still worth a closer look.
by Mike Aitchison