Some of my favorite moments in comics have always been the ones where heroes from different books interact with each other. Whether it be Spider-man and Daredevil hanging out in Hell’s Kitchen or The Fantastic Four and Captain America teaming up to take on an enemy threatening New York; there’s just something about knowing that all of the Marvel Universe is connected. Perhaps that’s why I loved Lego: Marvel Super Heroes as much as I did, no game (at least since 2006’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance) has managed to collect this many heroes and villains together and be this successful. Yes, Travelers Tale’s latest brick adventure may seem familiar on the outside but it’s one of the most charming and unique games you’ll play all year.
The setup of Lego Marvel will feel familiar to anyone who’s dabbled with the Lego series before. A popular franchise gets rebuilt in the Lego style and it’s up to players to smash their way through until the end. Previous games have felt like the developer was always trying to find what works, constantly adding and taking away features but after the incredible successful Lego Batman 2, Lego Marvel feels like they’ve finally found the right formula and they’re now just having fun with the possibilities it presents. Most notable is how accessible and fun this adventure is for any age group.
Published by: Warner Brothers
Genre: open world | Adventure
Platform:PS3,Xbox 360, PC, Vita
What works: Great cast of heroes and villains | fun and accessible for all ages|Lots of fan service|
What doesn’t work: Technical glitches still haunt franchise|
Since players can split up and explore different areas of the map via the split-screen and it’s rare that one’s progress effects the other, Lego Marvel is a great game to play with someone new to gaming who just wants to smash around. They’ll have a blast with it and you’ll get a kick out of the references and nods thrown in that shows just how much Traveler’s Tales loves and cares about the Marvel Universe. There are even a few nods thrown in that fall outside of the Marvel Universe, like Captain America being tasked with ridding Nick Fury’s plane of snakes –an obvious reference to one of Samuel L. Jackson’s greatest works of celluloid art. It’s moments like these where you sit back and chuckle to yourself, realizing that Lego Marvel is much smarter than it initially makes itself out to be.
Lego games have always featured robust rosters of characters to unlock but the series raises the bar with their first foray into the Marvel universe. All of the heroes you’d expect are here like Captain America, Wolverine and Iron Man but it’s the second and often third tier characters that end up stealing the show. It’s almost too charming when you unlock characters like Howard the Duck, Malekith the Accursed and Havock that you won’t want to go back to the big guns if you don’t have to. In a nice touch, the game also features a few characters that are completely out of left field like famed artist Joe Quesada, Daily Bugle Boss J. Jonah Jameson (complete with flying newspaper attack) and the immortal Stan Lee.
Though you’re able to freely switch between most characters in a scene, I found myself using the big fig characters as much as possible. Newer to the franchise, Big Fig characters like Hulk and The Thing are exactly what they sound like – really big Lego figures. It’s a lot of fun to stomp around Stark Tower as the Hulk and just bash your way through the level. Of course, you’re going to have to switch back before long to complete some of the puzzles, but I often found myself staying with the bigger characters as much as I could.
Perhaps most charming about Lego Marvel is the way that it handles its source material. This is The Marvel Universe unhinged with no continuity to stick to and no set rules like most of the movies and comics do and the result is some of the most fun and natural interactions these characters had in years. Of course, the game isn’t going to address Tony Stark’s alcoholism or Ant-Man’s alleged abuse of Wasp but the game definitely knows it’s Marvel history while still staying family friendly at the same time. Hell, even Deadpool is adorable in his Lego form.
Unfortunately, Lego Marvel falls victim to a number of issues that have haunted the franchise since it’s inception. Characters will still get stuck on objects and will often require someone else to come and break them out. As varied as the game is with its content, a lot of the missions can feel very similar and the game turns into nothing more than a grind-fest that will find you smashing through things just to keep the game moving.
Lego: Marvel Super Heroes is a fun, charming and deeply accessible love letter to the Marvel Universe that holds up even more than some of the company’s movies. This is Marvel at it’s most basic and most fun and everyone will be able to jump in and enjoy the ride thanks to an easy to grasp control scheme and the familiar source material. Small technical issues aside, Lego Marvel may be one of the best comic book games I’ve ever played.
This review is based on an Xbox 360 copy of the game provided by the publisher. We played through the game trying to unlock everyone…well..mainly just Howard the Duck and Deadpool.