Ah LEGO, is there any franchise that won’t one day become immortalized in your wonderful blocks of greatness? This time it is the heroes from the Marvel world that get the block treatment.
Yep, so far we have had Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings (and soon to come The Hobbit) and the DC characters. Marvel is the latest to join the club and offers up plenty of opportunity for stories to be told and fun to be had.
It is a LEGO game and it pretty much follows the same formula as those that preceded it. You have an open world hub that links together various chapters for an overall story. You progress through each chapter, first in a linear mode, before being opened up to free play. You also have your central hub which allows you to take on a few side quests and find hidden gems.
It is a formula that everyone knows and is comfortable with. At first each chapter must be played using the set characters, but once it is completed you can go back with a party of characters, each with different abilities. Which is ideal, as there are plenty of things that you won’t be able to do with the initial set. The game makes this obvious and teases you with parts of the level that it makes clear you cannot do on the initial run. It does force you to play through more than once if you are someone who likes to fully collect everything possible, which, when it comes to the LEGO games, is pretty much the entire audience, as that is the point of the game.
The open world hub in the LEGO games has evolved over the years and in Marvel Superheroes you get to free roam around a representation of New York, complete with Stark Tower. It is an impressive setting, but unfortunately and much in the same way as LEGO Batman 2 DC Super Heroes, it is perhaps a little too big for what it is, something that would be better for a game in itself. There is tons to explore, but it doesn’t feel as tight or well realised as that in LEGO Indiana Jones 2.
Not only is there an obscene amount of things to do and see in the game, there are also so many characters to collect from the world of Marvel. Many you will have heard of, many that pay lip service to the hardcore fans of Marvel. There are some lovely touches too, such as the inclusion of both The Human Torch from Fantastic 4 and Captain America. Which whilst not impressive initially, it allows for a fun trophy by playing with both characters on the screen, being aware that each character was played by Chris Evans (not the radio DJ) in their respective films.
Many of the more prevalent characters take the personalities and look of their film counterparts rather than the original comics. Iron Man has the look, if not the voice of Robert Downy Jr’s realisation and Nick Fury has the look and sound of Samuel L Jackson. It is clear that this is done to allow the non fanatics to relate to the characters.
The thing that makes the LEGO games such a joy to play, is the ability to have single screen co-operative play, the simplicity allows gamers of all types come together and have fun from the very start. This on the whole is no different, but there is a minor issue that frustrates slightly. The dynamic split screen just feels off compared to that in LEGO Indiana Jones 2 and the LEGO Harry Potter games. In those games it really helped you to go and do separate things and not be held up by your partner and it was a clever way of doing split screen. Here though the dynamic split screen feel limited and intrusive, it was actually better to move to a static version. Now whether this was down to level design, or something different with the mechanics, remains to be seen, but it didn’t help.
It is possible to also play with one player using a controller and the other on the Vita, but this is still very limited, as both players have to content with the split still. Which is ok if you are on a 42″ screen, but when you are on the Vita, it can be annoying as it becomes difficult to see the details on half a small screen. This may well be a hardware issue and nothing TT can do about, but hopefully in future releases it can allow for remote co-op play with both players using the full real estate of the screen.
It does little to dampen the experience though, as the overall game is a joy to play, retaining that LEGO magic from the outset. It may well be more of the same with new worlds and new characters, but walking around smashing everything in sight never gets old, no matter how many of these you have already played.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn’t the best LEGO game to date, but it is one of those series that even if it is listed at the bottom of the series, it still offers more value and more fun than other series can ever hope to achieve.