Here we are again. Another LEGO game, another big license, and another chance to potentially fall flat. Previously we’ve mainly seen films as the central focus, with recent titles moving to a slightly more serious, sandbox-styled experience. The last multi-platform game in the series, Lord of the Rings, struggled to find its identity, and as a result was a half-decent Lord of the Ring’s game but a bland LEGO game. Like DC Super Heroes before it, Marvel Super Heroes has an original story (or at least one loosely based on previously-seen story elements) and the freedom to make the Universe its own, but can TT Games once again find the right balance between LEGO and License or is this latest outing just a schizophrenic mess?
First, let’s talk about Marvel. They’re one of the two biggest Comic book producers in terms of popularity, alongside DC, and have been churning out well-known heroes like Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk since 1939. With an enormous amount of stories, characters and properties to choose from, they’ve released a few games over the years which span their entire universe; Ultimate Alliance and Marvel Heroes to name but two, but none have ever really captured the full spectrum of the atmosphere the comics have, despite being fan-service-fests.
Lego Marvel changes everything- in a matter of speaking. The same gameplay always found in Lego outings is on show once more, as you run around the levels and sandbox world smashing objects and collecting studs; alongside the classic co-op gameplay which has been refined iteration upon iteration. You never see any massive movement from the same formula, but this is the best in the series so far, full stop. The movement has been refined, with the controls feeling more natural than ever.
What is immediately evident is how much love for the property has been poured into LEGO Marvel. Though there are a lot of obvious influences from the Cinematic Universe, the comics are well represented, with a variety of varied locales straight from the pages. Each level is an original romp set in a different exciting location, and although not ALL the character matchups make sense, (Captain America and Mr Fantastic vs. Doctor Octopus?), all present a cheeky take on a high-action scenario.
Here’s where the game shines; the tone is consistent. Despite the high action, occasional creepy moments and fas0t nature, there’s always time for cheekiness, with the classic LEGO hilarity mixing perfectly with the wit of the Marvel world. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is all the better for it, with frequent introspective interjections from Deadpool and surprised every step of the way.
The powers themselves, influenced by the Marvel roster, make sense within the context whilst also feeling right for the actual game, which is a hard feat to achieve. Rather than feeling like square pegs in round holes, like in previous titles, this time the power variety is massive whilst still allowing simple ability match-ups. It’s true to the characters, and that’s brilliant to see from a Lego game.
Talking of being true to the characters, although the large cast of over 100 isn’t voiced by the Cinematic talents of Robert Downey Junior and Samuel L Jackson, the replacement talent does a damn good job of portraying the personalities of the characters faithfully, and the excellent backing music also channels the epic nature of the films.
Graphically it’s a step up from previous LEGO titles. If the new shine seen on most characters wasn’t enough, there seems to be a lot more bricks flying around, and despite claims that there are more on next-gen, it’s noticeable on all platforms. This is most noticeable on the first level, where Iron Man and the Hulk take on Sandman, and seemingly hundreds of bricks are swirling around the antagonist’s body in a storm of brown. It feels more epic, more dynamic even.
But like we all know, you can have too much of a good thing, and that’s the only issue; Nothings really evolved on from LEGO Lord of the Rings, and despite the fact it’s the best iteration of the franchise, it’s still highly formulaic, revolving around the same “do the levels, unlock the characters, do the levels again” pattern seen in every previous title. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but it’s not really a positive either.
Finally, we need to consider the generation change currently happening. I reviewed this on the PS3, but having also played on the PC, I can easily say that the only real differences in graphical fidelity I’ve seen are in terms of frame rate, resolution and particles. It’s good that last gen gets an equal showing, but it’s also clear that it wasn’t designed with next generation as a real priority.
However, despite this, it’s easy to conclude that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is both the best LEGO game, AND the best Marvel game, showing the best of both properties and mixing them together to make something truly special. Highly recommended for everyone.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.