I haven’t played a Lego game since Lego Star Wars II. The games were fun, but the archetype was set. Every game had the same thing to offer. There was no reason to go back despite the license. After seven years, they finally reinvigorated the formula with Lego Batman 2. Here, perpetual Lego developer Traveller’s Tales has nearly perfected the experience, offering a wide open world jam packed with everything Marvel in Lego coat of paint. There’s no other word for this game other than fun.
If you’ve played a Lego game before, you have a basic idea of what to expect. Collecting pieces to purchase unlockables, constructing interactable items to progress in the level, and of course, enemies exploding into blocks when they die. Also included is the Grand Theft Auto style open world design. While there are plenty of missions, with the option to free play (use any character you want) after completion, the entire island of Manhattan is open from the start for you to explore.
This is rooted in the Marvel cinematic universe, with character designs taking cues from it, and frequent mentions of events and lines from them. The game is voiced with mix of actors from the current batch of cartoons, and those who’ve voiced the characters in games for years. Nolan North, Steve Blum, Yuri Lownethal, Will Friedle, John DiMaggio, Troy Baker, and Tara Strong are all present, with Agent Coulson himself, Clark Gregg. While all the performances were solid, Gregg added a bit of authenticity due to his roles in the movies, making the game that much more enjoyable.
There are over 150 available in the game, which is an absurd amount. Your favorite Marvel character is likely present, with a good amount I’m sure you’ve never heard of (I dare you to tell me one thing Squirrel Girl has done). The characters are broken down into several categories depending on their power, with only a few being truly unique. Mr. Fantastic, Ant-Man, and Venom are just a few who can traverse vents, while Beast, Wolverine, and Black Panther have the claws necessary to active certain switches. After a time, you’ll have go to favorites.
Only Marvel Ultimate Alliance nearly a decade ago managed to capture the feel of a cohesive universe. The characters here know each other, and go right into action. One of the games strong suits is intermingling characters for levels that you normal don’t see interact together. I can’t express the sense of happiness I felt taking Thor, the Human Torch, Wolverine and Captain America through the Bifrost into Asgard. Or seeing all the characters work together in the final level. While there was a stable of 20 or so characters the developers chose from for all the levels, it didn’t detract from the experience.
As a Lego game, there’s still the same technical problems that have plagued all their releases. Graphical hiccups and slow down when too many characters are present on screen, characters randomly getting stuck, odd animation loop glitches, etc. While not perfect, it didn’t hinder my experience. There were a few design aspects I found grating. When fighting via melee, a character would occasionally go into animation using their supermove (Human Torch encircling enemy in flames, etc.) to finish them off. Seeing it once or twice was cute. After a while it was like slamming the breaks in the game flow. Playing co-op in the city really slowed things down, particularly when you were on opposite ends. Also, still no online co-op? Nintendo you are not.
I’m surprised this game even exists. Traveller’s Tales publisher/owner is Warner Bros. Since Warner owns DC, a Marvel game didn’t seem likely. But, you know, money.
I don’t understand why superhero games are difficult to make. Aside from the Arkham games, and Marvel Alliance, I can’t think of any good, or even decent ones. This is the superhero game I’ve always wanted. Though it’s in Lego form, that didn’t detract from the experience. Now if they’d take this concept and remove the Lego aspect they might have something.
What’s the best superhero game you’ve played? Looking forward to the sequel? Comment below!
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