Reviews November 11, 2013

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

post main image

Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.
System: Xbox 360 (Also on PS3, Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita, Xbox One, PS4)
Genre: Action Adventure
Rated: E10+
Players: 1- 2
Cost: $49.99
Release Date: 10/22/2013
Publisher: WB Interactive
Developer: TT Games

Being an avid nerd, I’ve learned over the years that you can combine LEGO’s with almost anything great and make it an even more awesome…um…thing. Whether it’s Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Batman - you can name it and a LEGO set or game has been made for it. Each one made for the sheer purpose of entertaining kids and adults alike. This time however, the stars have aligned to give us something Epic. The short of it; TT Games made a LEGO game set in the Marvel Universe…That’s all you really need to know before going out and buying it, now!

If you’re still on the fence (really, just stop reading and go get it) then here are a few things you to push you over the edge. The story revolves around Dr. Doom convincing Marvel’s villains to band together in order to steal Cosmic Bricks, pieces of the Silver Surfer’s broken surfboard. Using the bricks, he plans on building a Doom Ray of Doom…for some particular reason outside of causing wanton destruction. In order to stop him, Nick Fury has gathered a multitude of Marvel’s heroes. What transpires is an action-packed and often humorous ride through the game’s narrative.

lego-marvel-screen-6

Similar to the older LEGO titles, gamers will suit up as a different pair of heroes each stage. In order to solve different puzzles gamers will need to utilize each character’s special abilities by switching back and forth between them. For instance, Iron Man can use his missiles to destroy silver objects which will then produce studs to build needed contraptions. Wolverine regains his health over time and can use his senses to find hidden items, while the Hulk (my favorite) can smash through walls and isn’t affected by pools of radiation. Because this is a game, you’ll have to excuse certain puzzle requirements; some obstacles requires a particular character to overcome them even though other heroes are more than qualified for the task. To be fair it’s a good way to make sure all of the playable characters are actually needed, even if it seems a bit silly in hindsight. No seriously, the Hulk should be able to break everything.

Of course, enemies will need to be taken out from time to time. Putting them down with your favorite hero provides nearly endless amounts of fun. You won’t find difficult to master combos or a large move list per hero as most of the combat is simple button mashing in nature. That doesn’t hurt the overall experience though; seeing Spider-Man hang a baddie upside down before drop kicking them or to see Hawkeye tagging multiple enemies one after the other with his arrows is just delightful. Surprising enough, most of the cast have their own unique moves that affect how one might approach a fight. That said, with over 150 characters to choose from I expected more overlap in abilities. Though characters like The Thing and Colossus aren’t different in the grand scheme of things (they are super strong, are used to solve similar puzzles, and are too large to build with studs), they do have noticeable differences. Only Colossus can perform the “fastball special” with Wolverine for instance.  

lego-marvel-screen-4
 
Even if the combat wasn’t fun, I’d gleefully bash thousands of LEGO minions just to collect their studded innards. As creepy as that sounds, just like the older titles, collecting studs is a major part of the game.  They are used to buy characters and vehicles once they’ve been unlocked through the story or by some other means. They can be found everywhere and in everything…which lead  me  to attempt to destroy absolutely everything in a given level just to nab them. There are other collectibles as well: Gold Bricks, Red Bricks, Minikits and more. All of which reward you with items, characters, or hidden bonuses - plenty of reasons to thoroughly explore your soundings.

For the most part, these are elements that have fit snuggly into LEGO games for years. This isn’t a bad thing at all; the gameplay was always good and with time only gets better. Not to be outdone by previous efforts though, TT Games added some new staples as well. LEGO Marvel features a studded version of New York City that acts as the game’s hub. It’s basically a sandbox similar to what’s seen in LEGO City that connects you to stages from the campaign. Just like the levels themselves, it features its own secrets, challenges, and collectibles. Although it is a miniscule fraction of what something like GTA might offer , it’s still fun to leisurely explore landmarks like the Baxter Building and Stark Tower. TT Games also added full voice work, just like in LEGO Batman 2. The story unfolds via voiced cutscenes that not only give nods to other comics and movies but are at times quite hilarious. This might be stating the obvious but I feel that all the LEGO games should be voiced going forward. It just works so well with their brand of humor.

lego-marvel-screen

This has got to be the best looking LEGO game to date. TT Games was meticulous when it came to the finer details and at the same time, made everything LEGO. Wolverine holds his claws while Iron Man has glowing studs to represents the light coming from his suits hands. The ocean is definitely made out of water, but a waterfall that empties into the ocean is made up of a bunch of studs. It sounds odd but it works. The plastic coating is 100% believable in this world, even juxtaposed with something more realistic in nature.   

lego-marvel-screen-3

Still on the fence…you think this game can’t be all electrified rainbows and sunshine? Well, unfortunately there are some sticking points when it comes to the gameplay. One has to do with completing the game’s myriad of puzzles. It isn’t in their difficulty; these games are less about being difficult and more about accessibility. No, it’s in the game’s use of cutscenes, signifying that something in the world has changed because a puzzle was just solved. To be frank, the game rips control from the player way too often. And seeing how a lot of the puzzles are similar, the cutscense themselves also lack variety. We don’t need to see a door’s inner mechanisms clicking into place before being swung open every time we unlock one. This isn’t a problem on every level and these “interruptions” are, for the most part, brief. Still, it does get rather annoying pretty quickly to watch the game instead of play it.

Another issue I had was with the split screen design during co-op play. Using a static split screen is fine as each player only needs to worry about their side of things. That said, the game looks and plays much better when both players are using the same screen. So the best option is to switch to dynamic split screen; the screen doesn’t split unless the players wonder away from one another. The problem is that the dynamic mode is too sensitive, often splitting when it doesn’t have to. Sometimes it would split when I moved to the background or foreground opposite of my partner; a simple plane shift caused the screen to go nuts. Making matters worse is the fact that the screen would split in random ways – sometimes horizontal, sometimes vertical, sometimes at a weird angle before rotating. The shifting split screen in conjunction with the somewhat excessive cutscenes became a hindrance at times. One frustrating moment had me jumping across a pit only to be frozen in midair when a cutscene was activated. After it finished the game went back to me still floating when all of a sudden the screen splits wildly, confusing me in the process. Obviously, I didn’t make the jump.

lego-marvel-screen-2

These complaints of mine are minor when placed next to the awesomeness that is everything else. The game is entertaining, the story is comical, and visually it looks great. It features classic locations from the Marvel Universe, more collectables than I know what to do with, interesting boss fights and more. Heck, the large roster of Marvel heroes and villains to choose from gives you another 150 reasons to play; it has Howard the Duck for crying out loud! What more do you need to know? What you have here is one of the best family friendly games this side of Disney Infinity!

Gameplay: 9
Far and large the best LEGO game ever. I wish the split screen thing and the need to stop the game for a cutscene every five minutes could be remedied though.

Graphics: 10
It looks great; it’s like I’ve been transported to a land made of toys…with the Hulk!

Sound: 9
The voice work is top notch. Not because the actors can invoke powerful emotional responses from gamers. Because they are great at hamming up their parts; it’s for fun!

What’s New: 7
Nothing stands out as overly new. It’s more like an evolution of what TT Games brings to the table.

Replay Value: 10
LEGO Marvel is a lot of fun to play, has a crazy amount of characters and collectibles to unlock, and…look, just buy it already!

Final Score:

9