Growing up, there appeared to be a seemingly endless wave of LEGO games my prepubescent hands couldn’t acquire. Those I could, like LEGO Island, made up for my lack of young riches by supplying me with an ample amount of fun for hours on end. While LEGO Island was LEGO in its most basic form, the series evolved over the years into several genres until finally finding true financial stability with the Harry Potter franchise. There was gold in the licensing hills and Harry Potter’s success brought us LEGO video games for Star Wars, Batman, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even Rock Band.
With the exception of LEGO Rock Band, all of the “new age” LEGO games played about the same. There’s truth to the old saying, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” but there was one thing that always irked me with the LEGO games – lack of proper voice acting. This was addressed in 2012 with the release of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and every game since then has kept the tradition, including the newly released LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (PlayStation 4 [Reviewed], PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Wii U, 3DS, PC)
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Released: October 22, 2013
After Traveller’s Tales brought DC super heroes to life in LEGO form, it was a safe assumption that Marvel would be getting the LEGO video game touch sooner or later, until you realize that Traveller’s Tales is owned by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. As a Marvel fan who can’t stand DC superheroes outside of always brooding Batman, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes went up and beyond my expectations – which is all the more impressive considering this game easily could have never seen the light of day.
The story of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is the perfect blend of licensed canon and LEGO humor you would expect from Traveller’s Tales, but with an extra dose of crazy on top. If you strip it down to its most basic form, it’s a story you’ve likely heard before. “Cosmic Bricks” are scattered around the world and Dr. Doom enlists bad guys from across the Marvel Universe to acquire them for his ironic cannon – “Doctor Doom’s Doom Ray of Doom.” It would seem that canonically, the story takes place right after the events in The Avengers, since various aspects of the movie are cheekily referenced throughout the game, including the after-credits shawarma gag. The fantastic voice acting allows the perfect delivery of the playful banter you would expect from a group of unlikely super heroes interacting with each other. While it’s weird to hear Tony Stark voiced by someone who isn’t a recovering alcoholic, Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli from hit one-season TV show Heroes) does a suburb job for Tony’s LEGO interpretation. The rest of the voice cast preform wonderfully as well – making the voice acting seem almost too good for a mere LEGO game. Luckily, the game is deserving of the star power it has going for it.
During your initial playthrough, you’re able to play as one of a few characters related to the current level scenario. Upon the level’s completion, a free-play mode is unlocked that allows you to replay the level with any character you’ve unlocked. Expect to do a lot of replaying, as there are plenty of areas you can’t access during your first playthrough. There might be some frustration for those wanting to jump right in and go Deadpool on some Doc Ock ass, but the level completion requirement works well and supplies a reason to go back to each level to discover all the hidden easter eggs.
The LEGO series has never skimped around when it comes to their roster of playable characters. In that regard, Marvel Super Heroes blows all previous LEGO games out of the water, bringing forth their most massive roster to date. Not only are all the fan favorites there with various costumes, but cult classics like Howard the Duck also make the cut. While the majority of b-list heroes and villains aren’t playable or encountered through your initial story playthrough, they can be unlocked and played in free-play mode. Who doesn’t want to hop on Ghostrider’s motocycle as Howard the Duck? Don’t lie to yourself, I know I’m not the only one!
Unfortunately, the whimsy can’t save the Marvel universe from issues that seem to plague every LEGO game in the series. It’s too easy to get stuck in the environment, often requiring you to quit the game to restart the level. In some cases, simply switching to a different playable character can unstick the stuck character, but in other cases the AI are incapable of jumping out of their hole of no return. Another issue I have with Marvel Super Heroes is an issue I’ve had with the series since LEGO Star Wars – the unhelpful help prompts. They are intrusive, distracting, and appear around every two minutes from the start of the game to the very last level. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the feature was possible to be turned off or only appears at the press of a button, but alas there’s no option to turn off the bipolar help system from the options menu and they appear every other minute.
As weird as it is to think about, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is one of the best Marvel games to date. If you can look past the plastic maquillage, you’ll see a rich story that spans the entirety of the Marvel Universe, an open world New York City with an abundance of easter eggs to discover, and the highest replay value in a LEGO game to date. The amount of bugs and problems aren’t as jarring as they have been in previous LEGO games, but they are still there. When you take into consideration the comprehensive experience you’re getting out of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, all issues can easy be overlooked to bestow Marvel-lovers of all ages with the endless amount of enjoyment they’ve been waiting for.