There’s just something delightful about TT’s Lego games. Over the course of what is fast approaching a decade, they’ve honed their craft to perfection, taking beloved franchises and filling them from top to bottom with Lego bricks and humour.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes is by far and away their most ambitious attempt yet, somehow managing to tackle what feels like absolutely every facet of the Marvel universe. With a cast of well over 100 characters – from Iron Man and Spider-Man to Squirrel Girl and even a superpowered Stan Lee – there’s a quite astonishing amount of content from decade upon decade of Marvel comics for them to choose from, but one of the big influences is clearly from the recent series of Marvel films.
The vast majority of the game will take place in and around a huge recreation of Manhattan, with regular offshoots and adventures to other locations like out to Asteroid M and Asgard for missions. Manhattan is, of course, home to many of the famous landmarks from the comics, as Stark Tower and Oscorp join the skyline, while a few sensible liberties have been taken to bring the X-Mansion across from Westchester, and the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier always hovers high in the sky.
Getting from task to task could be quite daunting, especially for young kids that the game has to cater to. So, down on the streets that are already littered with coins, a holographic Agent Coulson will run off towards your waypoint or objective, leaving a trail of blue coins for you to collect as you follow. Of course, you can always summon various superhero vehicles from S.H.I.E.L.D. stations or hop into a passing car – though sadly you cannot take a taxi and pick up fares – or switch to a character who can fly and get around much faster.
It’s a huge open world, and they’re stuffing it with missions and things to see. Fly by the Statue of Liberty, and she’ll cheekily wink at you, whilst popping over to many of the main locations will see you able to hop into amusing little side missions. Deadpool crops up quickly to introduce a situation, such as Stark’s afterparty actually being quite rubbish, and sets you the task of sorting it out. Getting the disco ball and music sorted out sees Iron Man, War Machine and Iron Patriot all getting on the dance floor and doing the robot together!
The level of care and attention that has been lavished on the various characters is simply delightful. Though I do worry that they’ll find it difficult to really make each character feel distinct, when so many of them duplicate abilities, all of the finishing touches are brilliant. Iron Man’s twitchy hovering and the high pitched whine as he fires at people, Mister Fantastic’s delightfully stretchy punching, Wolverine’s claws being held as a distinct Lego piece and you being able to damage him until he’s just an Adamantium skeleton. It’s all so perfectly done.
The same can be said of the voice acting which is fast becoming a staple of the Lego games, and this time brings together as many of the regular voice actors for the various characters as possible. The cutscenes and character interactions still hold onto a cute slapstick style of humour, but this is accentuated by a script which I feel adds extra layers on top. When Iron Man admonishes Hulk for forgetting that Wolverine – being held upside down, and struggling slash at Hulk with his claws – is an ally, before saying that he really doesn’t smell like one, it’s one of many moments which will bring a smile to your face.
This was actually part of a level set on the the Raft, a hi-tech island prison for super villains. It’s currently being infiltrated by Sabretooth and Mystique, and Iron Man and Hulk are in hot pursuit, bumping into Wolverine on the way. It’s a well crafted location and level, filled with exactly the kinds of cameos and variety of puzzle that you’d expect.
With your three heroes, all having differing abilities, parts of the map are locked away for special access from only certain characters. Iron Man can interact with certain control panels and lock missiles onto far-away targets, Iron Man has claw-only switches and walls he can climb up, Hulk’s Big Fig-only grab-handles… There’s that artful interplay between the various characters which will work perfectly in co-op, but is just as delightful playing on your own.
And the Raft is pretty much the perfect place to demonstrate this kind of character combination and what this game is letting TT do with the world. Avengers can do battle with X-Men villains, whilst cameos can be sprinkled liberally throughout, with Whiplash and The Leader also popping up in the course of the level.
How it all comes together within the overall plot is going to be interesting to see, with Silver Surfer crashing out of the sky and Galactus surely the main antagonist at the end, despite Doctor Doom’s nefarious plans. The most important thing is that they’re able to do the universe justice, and with so many call-outs, cameos and sly winks to the camera, it certainly looks like they’re going to do just that.
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