I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU as some like to call it. The idea of a shared timeline for a whole bunch of movies is exciting, near unprecedented even. I’m going to stop myself there before I get too sidetracked talking about how great it is that comic book movies are finally able to be great after far too many years of being terrible. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on to something else.
I love the LEGO games. It’s probably the completionist in me that likes to find every character, golden brick, and secret area from Hoth to Hogwarts. There’s also that part of me that played with LEGOs religiously as a kid. Add a childhood love like LEGOs to a lifelong love for video games and you’ve got a recipe for a series of games that my wife hates that I love so much.
The evolution of LEGO games has come a long way, with each iteration adding significantly to the franchise, from adding voice acting for the first time, to changing from a level design to having open hub worlds with challenges, missions, and collectibles. When I heard about LEGO Marvel Avengers, I wondered what they could do differently with it. They already had LEGO Marvel Superheroes (Which might be my favorite LEGO game thus far), right? How was this one any different?
The main answer is a much deeper respect for the source material. LEGO Marvel Avengers (henceforth referred to as Avengers) is based on phase two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, covering the stories and characters from Avengers, Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Captain America, and The Winter Soldier. It also introduces content from Agents of Shield, however leaves out the more mature oriented worlds of Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones (though certain iterations of The Defenders are present in LEGO Avengers).
Each character is unique. LEGO games have always been famed for their 100+ character rosters, but many have been re-skins or just plain useless character used to fill out the roster. Avengers pays special attention to each and every character, even those that you might think would play a more minor role, giving each of them their own personality in walk, idle animation, abilities and attacks. The personalities are built from the movies and comics, so each Marvel character in Avengers feels distinctly like a LEGO version of that character. Our demo went through nearly every currently announced character, showing that none were simple palette swaps of the others. It made the the world feel engaging and diverse.
Travel the World, They Said
Avengers also expands the hub world, not only making Manhattan more expansive than in the previous game, but adding nearly 10 other hub worlds, slightly smaller, but each with their own set of challenges, collectibles, and secret areas to discover. Once again, utilizing the source material, SHIELD terminals can be hacked be Hydra agents for alternate rewards. Characters in the main Avengers have unique team-up abilities that change depending on which way you activate them (ie. Using Hulk on Iron Man will perform a different team-up move than using Iron Man on Hulk).
It was a lot to take in, and that was just a small fraction of the open worlds and character list. On the surface, it may just look like another brick breaking LEGO game designed to stimulate the minds of people who need to attack every object in sight just to collect the studs (guilty as charged). Underneath the hood however, there is more attention to every fine detail going into Avengers than any LEGO game before it. The team at Traveller’s Tales are not only LEGO fans, they are comic fans, and when it releases on January 26th, 2016, I think we’ll find that every little bit of LEGO Marvel Avengers shows the caring the have for the universe and the source material.