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LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Review


LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn't just a kids' game with LEGO in. It's an intelligent, well-thought-out, feast for the eyes that just so happens to be a kids' game with LEGO in.

There's a boss fight about half-way through LEGO Marvel Super Heroes where The Hulk, Mister Fantastic, and Wolverine team up to battle Mastermind. The encounter and battle isn't anything all that memorable, but it's important all the same. What it shows is TT Games' intrinsic understanding of Marvel, its lore, and its characters:

Mister Fantastic represents scientific-genius, while Wolverine represents instinctive-primal rage. Both Mister Fantastic and Wolverine are, essentially, representations of the two-sides of The Hulk's psyche: Bruce Banner is the scientific-genius, whereas The Hulk is instinctive-primal rage.

It could just be me reading too much into it. Maybe someone just happened to pull those three names out of a hat. Maybe some toys fell into the wrong box. Or maybe, just maybe, TT Games knows exactly what it's doing with the Marvel license.

It's easy to be cynical and dismissive when it comes to comic book to video game adaptations: for every X-Men Legends, there's an X-Men Destiny; for every Arkham Asylum, there's an Arkham Origins; for every Walking Dead, there's a Survival Instinct. Thankfully, TT Games demonstrates year-on-year how to handle a license. Instead of focussing on a single comic series, LEGO Marvel firmly plants both feet in the Marvel Universe, resulting in a story that re-enacts moments from the Avengers, Captain America, Thor, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, and X-Men films respectively, complete with an all-new video game-specific story.



The story, overall, is engaging and easy to follow, which is a change from the many games for children that tend to over-simplify the story, and in doing so, patronise their audience (source: any Ben 10 game). The writing is tight bar a few bizarre decisions -- Magneto is a bumbling idiot for some reason -- and lends itself effortlessly to the trademark LEGO humour we’ve come to know and love. Characters and scenery crumble in a variety of amusing ways, witty one-liners run awry, and Thor's inability to grasp anything from today's time is sure to transport any adult gamer to a time when life was all LEGO, Transformers, and Thundercats.

There's one distinct moment in the story that really stands out, in which TT Games decides to take Spiderman's symbiotic nemesis, Venom, to a whole new level. Upon saving a man in a symbiote-infested laboratory, he replies with "They're coming out of the walls!" a foreboding nod to Ridley Scott's, Alien. What follows, is some of the best children's horror this side of a Tim Burton movie. Seriously.

In-game missions generally follow the rule of use 'X' character to beat up baddies, or build LEGO machinery from rubble, or solve puzzles to advance to the next section.  If you've played previous entries into the series, you'll know what you're in for as there isn't much deviation from what's worked in the past. Although, it is worth noting that the LEGO series has never been about reinventing the square wheel, the tried and tested approach still works. People like familiarity, it's worked for Mario all these years, so why bother changing it?

The real innovation in LEGO Marvel comes twofold. First, the graphics. While New York City looks like a LEGO version of New York City, areas like Asgard are exquisite. TT Games knows how to make primary colours 'pop' just that extra bit, resulting in a visual delight. Character models, too, have an extra layer of out-the-packet sheen, which adds a glorious gloss effect when in direct sunlight. It's easy to forget that this is a game built for tech that's eight years old, so be sure to keep that in mind next time you're admiring the scenery while web slinging through the open-world.

The second instance of innovation comes from the prolific character line-up. There's over 100 characters to collect and unlock, each of which are unique to one another. Gambit has his staff and cards, while Green Goblin has his glider and pumpkin bombs. On top of that, there's the myriad differences between animations: Cyclops' optic blast looks different to, say, Pyro's fire blast. It's all these little differences that TT Games could have half-assed (and most wouldn't have noticed), that help bring each of the characters to life.

Even Antman has purpose and he's rubbish.

Following in the footsteps of LEGO City Undercover, LEGO Marvel has an explorable open-world mode for players to carry out missions, drive in a selection of over-the-top vehicles, complete Deadpool contracts, or even save Stan Lee on multiple occasions. It's an entertaining addition to an already robust single-player campaign that leads to some frivolous mayhem and hijinks. My son and I decided to make a game of how long can Hulk stay on a flying pumpkin-helicopter before he falls from the sky, eventually crashing into the ocean. It's scenarios like this, which makes LEGO Marvel all the more enjoyable. What other game can you force Hulk to ride a pumpkin-shaped helicopter?

[For those wondering, Hulk is terrible at riding helicopters. It's fun watching him fall, though]

I suppose what it comes down to is what you want from a LEGO game. If you come to LEGO Marvel expecting a revelation, you're going to be disappointed. Gameplay is similar to previous entries, and a handful of bugs do, at times, hold LEGO Marvel back. However, if you're expecting more of the same with a new lick of paint, and a cast of the weird and wonderful, and obscure characters like Howard The Duck, you're in for one of the best LEGO experiences TT Games has produced.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn't just a kids' game with LEGO in. It's a kids' game that appeals to adults and parents. Plus there's a world full of LEGO ready to be ‘Hulk-smashed.’ What more could you want?


Words by Wesley Copeland.
@Wesley_Copeland

(Version Tested: PS3/PS4)


Pros

+ Looks wonderful, especially with the added sheen of the PS4 version
+ Characters True to Marvel Lore
+ Fantastic Family co-op adventure

Cons

- No revelation, more of the same (but just as fun as ever)

Editors Note: We tested this game on PS3 mainly, however for comparison purposes we played through around a third of the PS4 version so far. From what we can tell the main difference between the two is the graphical sheen. There are more bricks and is much more attention to detail in the PS4 version. It looks fantastic, although no matter what version you choose, you won't be disappointed.


Edited On 02 Dec, 2013

Comments
7
I've got to dispute the 'true to Marvel lore' point, I found the games reality a mish mash of the 616, Ultimate and Cinematic universes, and the games mechanics reflected it badly, Spiderman not clever enough to use a computer panel Black Widow is, please, he's up there with Bruce Banner, Reed Richards and Tony Stark in the brain stakes, or at least a lot closer than Black Widow is.
Gloria 8 months ago
Good game though, really enjoyed it, I'd put it as the third best Lego game ever so far.
Gloria 8 months ago
Dunno why but I felt this was a huge step back for the LEGO series, especially after City and LOTR. It just feels like another version of the Batman one. Maybe because I don't know many of the characters
Robichoico 8 months ago
Not knowing the characters doesn't really matter, they never kept to one coherent Marvel universe anyway, definitely felt the step backwards though after City, even saw the 'next gen' gloss on the Wii U version too, got a bit distracting too TBH, you really don't need to see the reflection of what a character is looking at on their faces.
Gloria 8 months ago
I tried the Wii U one at an event and parts of it actually worked better than the PS4 version. Dunno why the latter seemed more glitchy to me
Robichoico 8 months ago
Think there was glitches a plenty across all versions, I've read about enough, getting characters trapped, inadvertent levitation, and missions uncompletable without co-op . Still a good game though, but they are getting a bit tired.
Gloria 8 months ago
I experienced all those glitches myself too, not just read about them, although it was nice to hear it wasn't just me.
Gloria 8 months ago
Destiny - PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS 3
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