From the naked eye, it might look like the LEGO games are pumped out year after year without much improvement. However, for someone who has played and enjoyed each new entry, the growth and progression of the series is definitely apparent. From Star Wars to Harry Potter, and now to the Marvel Universe—the series has really matured and reached into so many different brands. The latest game in the franchise, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes builds upon its predecessors, but still has a few nagging flaws that have yet to be worked out.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes presents a brand new story to the Marvel Universe, where villains such as Dr. Doom, Loki, and Magneto join forces to collect cosmic bricks to do extremely evil things with. It is up to a band of heroes ranging from Iron Man and Gambit to the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man to stop them. Switching between characters mid-mission is both interesting and a blast. For example, you may start the mission as Wolverine and Iron Man, but they will end up getting rescued by Thor who will then be a playable character for the rest of the mission. This isn’t limited to just your heroes, as you may be chasing Red Skull in one part of the level, only to face Abomination towards the end of it. The game does a great job of mixing all of this into the story and presenting it as a cohesive plot that fits well with the over 100 characters. It is also extremely funny, adding the LEGO sense of humor to the world, creating some really memorable moments.
Like past LEGO games, you will be presented with a lot of puzzles to tackle during each mission. These are almost always solved by finding a character with a certain power to handle it. Black Widow has the ability to go invisible, which can be used to pass by security cameras. Where LEGO Marvel changes this up, it is that each character has multiple abilities, providing many possibilities in solving the multiple puzzles found in the game. For instance, if you need fires put out you can use characters like Storm or Ice Man, but then Storm can also be used to charge power stations, just like Thor can. It is really nice to be able to use a character for different things in a level, making it easier to reach 100% completion without having to switch characters too often. Now, there are some abilities that are a bit forced to fit in with the LEGO game, like Wolverine’s ability to dig really well. I know this was something that had to be done, since there are not really many mutts in the Marvel world, and it provided a bit of comic relief watching such a badass character dig like a puppy for his adamantium bone.
The game won’t really provide much of a challenge to seasoned gamers out there, as the puzzles and challenges are fairly straight-forward. Obviously, the game is geared towards the younger crowd and trying to make things accessible for those who don’t game 40 hours a week. In fact, the most difficult sections of the game comes while playing co-op, as the rotating split-screen can be incredibly frustrating when one person is trying to fly and the other person is trying to burn something. However, the lack of difficulty isn’t a problem, as there is a certain joy in taking your favorite Marvel characters and beating up everything in sight. Heck, I could run around as Gambit, throwing around energy infused playing cards until I was blue in the face—it just never gets old!
The main campaign will take you around 10-12 hours to complete, but finishing up the main campaign is just the beginning with this game. Each level has ten secrets to find throughout it, so you will have to revisit each level once you unlock a good amount of characters to take care of them all. You will also be tasked with collecting enough coins in each level and rescuing Stan Lee, who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Outside of the levels though, there is a huge open-world to explore, from areas of New York, to the X-Mansion, and even up to the SHIELD heli-carrier. The city is full of citizens to interact, characters to collect, and challenges to take care of. These challenges range from helping Punisher to take out cars that are polluting the environment, to hoping on a motorcycle and racing through the streets of Manhattan. There is really a lot in the city to keep you busy outside of the missions.
All this positive talk about the game is deserved, but there are still some issues to be found here that should have been fixed between the last entry and now. One of the biggest issues encountered when playing through the missions is that the action would stop every couple of minutes to draw your attention to something else. I understand it’s supposed to be accessible for kids, so they are trying to make sure someone less-skilled can understand what’s going on—however, the game cuts away to a cut-scene of sorts far too often, distracting you from what your focus was on previously. Another issue is the use of a single button for multiple things. Case-in-point is the flying. To raise yourself higher in the air while flying, you use the X button. Problem is, that is also used to accelerate, causing for some very awkward flights into buildings and a little bit of under the breath cussing. This also pops up during combat, as the button to build is also the button for one of your special abilities, so there have been plenty of times I am trying to build as Jean Gray, but she is instead trying to protect herself with a bubble.
Even with the minor issues in the co-op split-screen and some button mapping issues, there is very little to find wrong with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. It brings a level of child-like enthusiasm and joy to each level and character that just can’t be passed up. It may not present you with an in-your-face challenge or blow you over with amazing graphics, but what does do well is give you is 20+ hours of genuine fun. Whether it’s Iron Man cracking his usual joke or Dr. Doom ranting on about his Doom Ray of Doom (that’s a lot of Doom for even Dr. Doom), you will find plenty to love in each little block. If only Traveler’s Tales would listen to my requests and give us LEGO Lethal Weapon and LEGO Die Hard, the world would really be complete.