Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Genre: Action Adventure Platform Played: PlayStation 4
Over the years, Marvel has brought their array of popular comic book characters to the big screen with huge success, turning their properties into well-known box office winners. This incredible rise to popularity and their success at creating a cinematic Marvel universe meant the brand had achieved everything – well almost everything. Marvel now comes to us in the form of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, once again succeeding in proving the Marvel universe can be as diverse as it is entertaining.
LEGO Marvel weaves an entertaining tale that includes most of the biggest villains and heroes on the Marvel roster. Despite the large number of characters, the narrative never feels convoluted; Each character feels like they have been added for a reason and they intertwine brilliantly. The story involves a set of cosmic bricks landing on Earth that contain an unknown power; As the villains seek to harness this energy, the heroes must stop them. It is a basic story, but due to LEGO’s never-taking-itself-seriously attitude, it provides some excellent humour for all ages throughout its 10-hour campaign. LEGO Marvel also has a tendency to take away your control frequently either to show a small cut scene or give you a strong hint at where you should go next. It was frustrating to be in a fight with almost 10 enemies and then have the control ripped away as often as it did.
Marvel fans will also love the large array of well-known locations visited throughout the campaign, which range from Asgard, Professor Xavier’s Mansion and even Asteroid M. Most impressive is the huge selection of characters that can be unlocked throughout the game, and I must emphasise the selection is indeed huge. The core cast of the Marvel cinematic universe is all here, which includes Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk and more. Alongside these main additions are smaller characters that will fulfill the needs of Marvel fans; These range from characters like Absorbing Man, Squirrel Girl, Moon Knight, Ronan the Accuser and more. Although some of the X-Men’s greatest villains are oddly missing (Mister Sinister and Apocalypse), the range of characters is insane.
The cast of characters is huge, but the attention to detail on each of these characters is also appreciated. Iron Man will use fighting techniques as seen in the movies, Wolverine will regenerate from a skeleton figure instead of dying, and even characters like Venom and Hulk will be able to transform to their smaller symbiotic/human forms with great detail. All these animations make each character feel unique and it is these small details could have easily been avoided, but they make the game more enjoyable to experience. LEGO Marvel feels like a love letter to the brand fans will greatly welcome.
Each character also has special abilities that are mainly used to solve the array of puzzles included in each chapter. For example, Thor and Storm can charge electrical devices with their abilities to control thunder and storms respectively. However, there are definitely additions that were included simply because it made sense gameplay-wise rather than being Marvel canon. For instance, Spider-Man will not be able to work computer devices because he isn’t classified as “smart enough”, or Wolverine will be able to dig into the ground to solve sections of the puzzle at hand. These are small things that will seem odd to fans of certain characters, as they don’t line up with what fans have become accustomed too.
LEGO Marvel is best enjoyed playing local two player co-op. This is mainly because LEGO Marvel suffers from some of the worst partner AI I have experienced. Your partners will act like lifeless companions, as they either get stuck behind objects, stand in front of your line of fire, or simply don’t move. The extra characters in each mission are merely provided to interact with puzzles and utilise their special abilities, but they provide a painful frustration as you feel like you are playing a two player game with one controller.
LEGO Marvel also suffers from weird control scheme choices, multiple commands have been designated to the same buttons, meaning that you might find your character doing the exact opposite of what was expected. Switching characters, transforming and entering vehicles are all designated to the one button, so instead of entering a specific car, or switching characters, Hulk may simply decide to transform to Bruce Banner. The choice to assign many commands to each button confused me, when there were many buttons that were left with no commands at all. Utilising these spare buttons would have avoided these problems altogether.
Aside from the main narrative, players will also get to explore the vast hub-world of Manhattan, where they will be completing tasks from minor heroes, and collecting Gold Bricks in an effort to unlock every character and vehicle on offer. Each task themselves are fairly bland, ranging from timed races, beating waves of enemies, or simple escort or fetch quests. These tasks are fairly short though, and I found myself addicted to clearing the map in efforts to unlock LEGO Marvels’ full cast of characters. One particular side objectives are called Stan Lee in Peril, which sees Marvel creator Stan Lee continuously finding himself in a spot of bother. Saving Stan Lee from these instances is truly absurd, and that makes them genuinely humorous and enjoyable, once again reinstating the fact LEGO Marvel doesn’t take itself seriously, and reaps the benefits due to this decision.
The world-hub of Manhattan looks gorgeous. There were many times when people stopped to gaze on the beautiful world Travellers Tales has created. Though the world is built almost entirely out of LEGO pieces, the world has an impressive realistic visual design. Flying through Manhattan’s skyscrapers as Iron Man as you see the light glint off his helmet, only to decide to fly into the clouds miles above the city below is absolutely beautiful. Better yet, the entire world can be explored with no load times whatsoever, which is impressive due to the vast scope and visual fidelity.
One of LEGO Marvel’s best qualities comes from the climatic boss fight at the end of each chapter, these occurrences provide a great balance between puzzle mechanics and interesting combat. Most of the puzzles throughout are fairly easy, and eventually become repetitive after a few missions, when all the abilities have been displayed. But when these puzzle mechanics are infused in the entertaining boss fights, they are raised to another level. Avoiding the enemy fire while fighting off minions and juggling puzzles all at once are some of the most entertaining moments LEGO Marvel has to offer.
The LEGO franchise has constantly refined its formula over the years, and has now provided the best title in the series. LEGO Marvel is not only a love letter to the Marvel brand, but it is one of the most entertaining titles on current and next generation consoles for the whole family. The humour may be aimed at children, but players of all ages can find some comedic enjoyment.
Aside from the humour on offer, there is an expansive roster of Marvel characters that will allow players to certainly find a character they love. Though the campaign is rather short, finding every collectible and exploring the visually gorgeous and vast world-hub will see dozens of hours fade away.
LEGO Marvel is LEGO at its finest, which will satisfy any fan of the Marvel cinematic universe and the die-hard Marvel fans that live and breathe the content Stan Lee has created.
+ Expansive roster of characters, locations and vehicles
+ Attention to detail to the Marvel universe
+ Entertaining fusion of puzzle and gameplay mechanics during boss encounters
+ The best LEGO game available
– Horrible partner AI in single player
– Weird control scheme choices