Since 2005, Travellers Tales have been creating licenced LEGO games using a tried and tested formula. A combination of simple combat, fan service and puzzling they have pretty consistently pleased fans. Whilst at times the series has grown stale, the developer has worked hard to keep it fresh over the years.
However, with three open world comic-book franchise games out already, have they become too reliant on a formula or can they successfully expand in what has made then so successful?
Set in the Marvel universe, LMSH2 can best be described as a 3D smash-em-up puzzle collect-a-thon, in which you progress through colourful, Lego-filled areas destroying everything and building from the pieces to continue. Alongside the collection of the currency; studs; players use the different abilities of characters to manipulate, traverse and destroy the landscape. As the levels go on, you unlock new characters to play outside of levels, or in free-play; which allows you to collect previously inaccessible collectables. Each level also awards you with Gold Bricks and minikits, which unlock further content to play with. Outside of levels you can explore Chronopolis; a multi-zoned open world which is central to the whole story.
Unsurprisingly, LMSH2 starts off focusing on the movie versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy. As Marvel’s biggest success story since the predecessor it makes sense, and injects immediate character into the game. Quickly you are taken to a part of Snowy Manhatten. The game is linear for the first few missions, until you open up the whole of Chronopolis and can explore the varied landscape.
The huge variety within the environment is due to the somewhat outrageous nature of the plot. Taking place in the aftermath of the previous game, LMSH2 introduces the intergalactic time-traveller Kang the Conqueror; a warrior bent on causing as much war and battle as possible. In the interests of this he gathers together a number of places from throughout time, space and dimensions including ancient Egypt, dark ages Britain, Secret Empire Manhatten, Zandar, Sakaar nd Asgard (destroyed; presumably from Thor: Ragnarok.) It’s a unique concept that could only ever come from comics, and I love it. The amount of variety in the environments is colossal, with the inclusion of alternate versions of super heroes being an excellent bonus. Since Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions I’ve been gagging to play as Spiderman Noir again and it’s fab having the opportunity to explore Manhatten Noir. The story has plenty of turns and encompasses a huge amount of the Marvel universe.
On PS4 and Switch the title plays very well, with characters responding to actions quickly. My biggest gripe has to be the occasional issues I’ve had controlling the powers of certain characters. My most memorable issue came from the second issue, where a previously unexplained mechanic for Captain America was supposed to be used in a tight area. These kinds of issues are exacerbated by never ending hordes of enemies in certain areas. It’s not too bad, but it feels badly thought out. Another issue in the control department comes in the form of combat; it’s simultaneously incredibly easy yet frustratingly tricky. It’s an improvement over earlier games, but at this point in the franchise I would have hoped for some evolution to make it more satisfying. On the flip side, traversing the world is incredibly fun, especially when you gain access to big fig characters who can super jump onto and off buildings; power fantasy a go go!
The amount of content on offer is immense, with 20 levels to go through in both story and free mode and the huge open world full of collectables and side quests. There are also a huge number of additional “Gwenpool” missions that include lesser known characters such as Squirrel girl. These are some of the best and an utter highlight.
LMSH2 includes a huge roster of characters from throughout the Marvel universe; more than ever; with a great selection of abilities between them. There’s so much variation in here it’s mad, but there are some obvious omissions. Unlike the first Marvel Superheroes Game there are no XMen in the game; and they are joined in their absence by the fantastic four and Deadpool. To me, this feels like a deliberate swipe by Disney; who acquired the property in the interim; at Fox, who own the cinematic rights to the aforementioned omissions. Whilst they have since acquired Fox, it’s disappointing that the Marvel universe is split in this game, and it is truly to its detriment.
Graphically and aurally LMSH2 is well presented, with fantastic stylisation and design. Unlike previous entries, shadows are smooth and clean, and I’d argue it’s the best presented of them all. I played on both PS4 and Switch, and whilst the PS4 version is clearly better looking, I found it a better short-burst game for the switch.
Overall, LMSH2 is a Marvel fan’s dream. With a huge amount of characters and content from the majority of Marvel’s past and present catalogue there is heaps of fan service in store. Whilst the omission of certain characters and the lacklustre combat disappoints, the puzzling and sheer quantity of quality content makes up for these hiccups.