Ever since Lego Star Wars in 2005, the Lego (sorry Lego loyalists, I won't be capping every instance of the word in this review) brand has “legoized” a number of franchises by rebuilding them entirely with Lego blocks. Starting out with just movie franchises, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, Traveller's Tales moved onto non-movie properties with Lego Batman in 2008. The followup sequel, Lego Batman 2, pulled inspiration from the entire DC universe; now Marvel fans get the same treatment with Lego Marvel Super Heroes for the PlayStation 4. Despite its outward kid-friendly appearance, is this a game that everyone can enjoy?
A Classic Marvel Tale
Without diving into spoilers, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is the ultimate clash between heroes and villains. When Dr. Doom assembles every supervillain he can find to retrieve cosmic bricks, powerful artifacts borne from the Silver Surfer's destroyed surfboard, it's going to take the combined might of every Marvel superhero to stop him.
The story unfolds over the course of 15 levels, with each level taking roughly 30 minutes to complete. No two levels are the same, as each one takes place in a different corner of the Marvel universe. You'll find yourself in locations such as Asgard, Latveria, New York City and even Asteroid M over the course of the story. You'll keep playing the game just to see where you'll go next.
Like Lego Batman 2, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is fully voiced, featuring such voice actors as the cast of Avengers Assembled reprising their roles. The voice work is well done, and although some of the lines uttered are groan-worthy, the humor hits far more than it misses, especially when you factor in the jokes that only adults are going to get. Expect Nick Fury to quote lines from Pulp Fiction, references to the old Incredible Hulk television show starring Bill Bixby and characters to reference both old and new Marvel comics often. Having Spider-Man pull down a billboard featuring Superior Spider-Man is a surreal moment.
One thing to keep in mind, and this may be a negative to some, is that the game mixes material from all ages of the Marvel universe to mixed results. The Avengers in this game are almost entirely based on the movie Avengers, so expect a lot of Coulson and Agent Hill. The X-Men are almost entirely based on the 90s counterparts, while Spider-Man finds his way into almost every level. The main focus of the story is on the Avengers, Iron Man especially, which isn't surprising given that this property is the one with the greatest public recognition. However, with so many heroes to choose from, it's almost a shame to see the story focus on primarily the same characters as all the movies. An appearance by the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of the game feels like nothing more than a shameless movie plug.
Regardless of this, the game is a love letter to the most dedicated Marvel fan in terms of plot and written material.
We're Going To Need A Lot Of Heroes
That's not to say that the writing is the only thing great about this game: When we say every Marvel superhero, we mean it! Lego Marvel Super Heroes features over 150 characters to play as, letting you play as both heroes and villains. For the heroes, stalwarts such as Captain America, Spider-Man and Iron Man are available along with niche characters such as Squirrel Girl, Moon Knight and even Howard the Duck. In a hilarious turn of events, Traveller's Tales even found a way to make Punisher suited for the game! For the villains, the developers went a bit more niche, not only giving you heavyweights like Dr. Doom and Loki, but villains such as Carnage, Nightmare and the entire Sinister Six.
While each hero and villain may share powers when appropriate, for the most part they all feel unique thanks to individual combo moves and voice acting. However, having Superior Spider-Man voiced by the same voice actor as regular Spider-Man, and not Doctor Octopus, was a huge disappointment.
How Does It Play?
If you've played any past Lego game, Lego Marvel Super Heroes functions exactly the same. As an action game, you'll traverse from one side of the level to another while destroying everything in your path, similar to any beat 'em up such as Double Dragon but with a few more twists. You'll manipulate the environment often, taking apart and building creations of all shapes and sizes, along with using each character's special moves when appropriate in simple puzzles. For example, only Hulk (or other larger figures) can lift items with green handles while only fire-based characters can burn through gold Lego bricks.
Don't worry if you forget which characters will solve which puzzles, as the game will never let you forget which characters can solve which puzzles, constantly reminding you of what you need to do. Even on the last level of the game, the game will tell you which character to use to activate a shield switch and how to lift a green-handled object. There is no way to turn off these tips, so you're stuck with the game pestering you non-stop over how to complete every objective. While the game is mostly made for kids and families to play together, the amount of help the game actually provides is too much, becoming an annoyance. Kids aren't stupid, despite what Lego Marvel Super Heroes may feel.
The controls are a mixed bag as well. While the fighting and ground controls work great, the driving and flying controls are mediocre at best and awful at worst. Your characters fly too fast, making accurate flight almost impossible; you'll throw your controller more than once trying to finish any race involving flight. This was a problem in games like Lego Batman 2 and it's still a problem here; it's disappointing that Traveller's Tales hasn't yet found a control scheme that works. Expect a troublesome camera as well, especially when trying to solve a jumping puzzle.
At it's core, gameplay is simple but it works; after all, don't fix what isn't broken, as the old saying goes. It's just too bad Traveller's Tales didn't fix what actually is broken.
New York City Steals The Show... Almost
One of the stars of the game isn't a hero or villain, but rather a level: the New York City hub. Between levels, and after the game is over, you can explore a Lego-based recreation of New York City with plenty to explore and do. You'll unlock characters, vehicles, gain gold bricks and more as you explore every inch of NYC. At first, this hub is great, providing a ton of longevity well after the game is over.
That's until you realize that the majority of activities are races and fetch quests. Getting to 100% in this game is a test of strength, as you'll start to feel pain performing your 40th fetch quest or 20th race. After awhile, it just gets boring, almost making the quest for every gold brick not worth it. Almost.
The light at the end of the tunnel is the 11 optional missions, hosted by Deadpool himself (with Nolan North reprising the role). These 11 missions stand apart from the main story and highlight some of the more niche Marvel heroes and villains. One mission pits Iceman and Ghost Rider against Nightmare, while Captain America and Spider-Man fight against Shocker. Deadpool provides hilarious intro and outro takes on these missions and make the hunt for gold bricks well worth the tedium you'll have to endure.
Another annoyance, and this one will just apply to trophy hunters, is that even though the game is local co-op play only, there is one trophy that requires you to pair two characters together in co-op. Most people don't have two PlayStation 4 controllers at this point, and why exactly is this trophy co-op required? This could have easily have been a single player trophy and it will stop anyone who wants the coveted platinum trophy but doesn't have two DualShock 4 controllers.
Is It Worth Buying?
Despite its kid-friendly appearance, simplistic gameplay and numerous tiny flaws, Lego Marvel Super Heroes still hits all the right notes. The story mode will keep your attention, the voice acting is fantastic, the cast is diverse and you'll find yourself going after one. more. Character. It's not a game that is going to show off the power of your PlayStation 4; in fact, it has no PS4 exclusive features whatsoever and is just a straight port of the last generation games.
That doesn't make it any worse for the wear, and with only Knack being the only other family friendly game, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is well worth a buy for the PlayStation 4 if you're looking to fulfill that criteria. However, the game is also great for the Marvel fan and for the gamer looking for a more casual break in-between bouts of Call of Duty: Ghosts and Killzone.
Final Score: 8/10
Game Category: Action / Adventure
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 12/9/2013