The Lego game brand is one of the most bankable franchises around. Even though we’ve waved goodbye to Lego Dimensions this year – which remains a fantastic concept bled dry by steadily weaker additions – that hasn’t stopped the arrival of the traditional big-name Lego outings. Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a sequel to one of the last revelatory and original outings for the brand, and picks up right where the last one left off. It’s clear that Travellers Tales have learnt a thing or two in the intervening years.
Firstly, this is easily the best looking Lego game thus far, with a lovely range of graphical effects, including some great physics work and depth of field shimmer really making all that super plastic shine. The variety of locations, from snowy mountains and medieval castles to underwater bases, are all very well conceived, offset by some excellent orchestral scores. It’s also incredibly slick, with none of the technical problems seen recently in the Lego Ninjago Movie Videogame, marking this as the franchise’s immediate standout.
Taking place after the events of the first game, we join an array of Marvel characters as they go up against Kang The Conqueror, and what an array it is, as this has the biggest selection of characters of any Lego game, including some lesser known ones like Gwenpool! There’s definitely a spot of narrative DNA shared with Dimensions, as the time-travelling story takes in a range of different planets, eras, and their residents. Personally getting to spend more time in the world of Spiderman Noir is worth the price of admission alone.
No matter where you travel, it’s unequivocally cool, and often genuinely funny, while the hub area of Chronopolis is soon bustling with things to do and places to go. Just as with the last Marvel Super Heroes game, being untethered from a particular movie has enabled it to draw from decades-worth of characters and actually have some real fun with them. There’s a cavalcade of great boss encounters, with dastardly villains from M.O.D.O.K. to Doctor Octopus providing plenty of do-gooding to be done.
The design language has changed over the years, even if, superficially, it doesn’t appear to have moved on one iota. Combat is more nuanced, with team-ups and finishing moves gained from the last Avengers outing making a welcome return here, while the contextual signposting is much improved, meaning you spend far less time meandering around and more time in the thick of the action. Even small changes like the way that button mashing can now require you to change what button you’re pressing mid-action alters what you’ve come to expect from the Lego games. There are few surprises when it comes to character abilities, though Ms. Marvel’s shrunken circuit board running and Doctor Strange’s time manipulation are both good value.
While character interactions with the environments have once again received some minor improvements, the friendly AI still leaves something to be desired, helping promptly one moment only to hang around at the last objective the next. Playing the story through in local co-op is ultimately the pinnacle for experiencing the game, and there’s also a four player battle mode that’s good for a few battles, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had here as a solo player.
As ever, the biggest question is likely to be whether you’ve tired of the Lego franchise’s gameplay beats. The changes and refinements to all that smashing, punching and kicking definitely feel refreshing, and when combined with the stellar presentation, great storyline and array of characters it’s genuinely hard to dislike the game, particularly if you’re a Marvel fan. Still, it is, on a base level, a Lego game, with all of the history that brings. There’d be no shame in having tired of it by now.
I guess the simple answer is that no, we haven’t tired of it. With each new Lego release my son and I revel in the light puzzling and comedy, while the welcoming gameplay makes it suitable for nearly everyone. Beyond the Lego, I expect there’s now plenty of people who have tired of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having been assaulted by a barrage of celluloid releases in recent years that the previous Lego Marvel game didn’t have to contend with to anywhere near the same extent. Some of these characters – Captain America and Iron Man in particular – don’t have quite the same attraction as before.
Again, that’s not the case for us, and the inclusion of teams like the Guardians of the Galaxy, and characters we’ve not seen here before have kept things up to date enough to alleviate any brand fatigue. Besides the dizzying number of heroes and villains, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is also rammed with all of the collectibles Lego fans have come to expect, and in terms of value there are few games that can compete.
There are still a few little technical niggles, though mainly it’s getting your character stuck in the scenery. I did find myself in one nasty loop where my character became stuck being roasted alive by a pair of flamethrowers, and respawning back in only to instantly die again. I had to grab my second pad and take control of another character in order to proceed, which is fine, if you have another pad. Overall though, on a technical level this is the best product Travellers Tales have ever put out.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a fantastic Lego game. A fun narrative, a list of well-known characters a mile long, and further refinement on the series’ classic gameplay mark this out as the best Lego game yet. Admittedly, it’s still another game in a well-trodden franchise, and one which doesn’t reinvent the (plastic) wheel, but few brands can claim the consistent quality on show here.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4 Pro