Traveller’s Tales have really hit their stride with creating LEGO games based on different popular franchises like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and the DC Universe. I got a chance to review both LEGO Lord of the Rings and LEGO Batman 2:DC Super Heroes and liked both of them. Does LEGO Marvel Super Heroes carry on the tradition of greatness? The answer is a resounding yes.
The first thing you notice when starting LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is the scale of the New York City hub world. Stark Tower, the Baxter Building, the Raft, and Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters are all a quick run, swing, jump, drive, or fly away and all are the setting of their own stages. As you travel from one area of the city to the other, the name of the neighborhood you’re in pops up at the bottom of your screen. LEGO citizens go about their day and occasionally call out at you in amazement. An improvement I noticed over the similar Gotham City hub world in LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, is that the civilian population is much calmer and you don’t have to be on constant alert for street thugs attacking you every few feet. Not content to stick to the New York based locations, Traveller’s Tales made full use of the Marvel Atlas and sends players off to Doctor Doom’s castle in Latveria, Magneto’s orbiting Asteroid M, and Thor’s home of Asgard. In between missions. you return to Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier, which is stationed above the city. Getting back to the city is as easy as jumping off the side and flying or parachuting down to ground level. Traveling around the city, you can find combat challenges, races, puzzles, characters and vehicles unlockables, and most importantly Deadpool-narrated bonus missions. These are smaller and more contained than the regular story missions but contain some of the funniest gameplay.
While comics, and especially Marvel, are known for their flexible timelines, it’s easy to see that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is seen to reside in the timeframe after the hit Avengers movie from a few years ago. The game also takes its art design from the recent Marvel Studios movies, with each character and location looking based off of its big-screen counterpart. Even Tony Stark’s constantly evolving Iron Man suit comes in multiple versions with different looks and abilities. One of the most enjoyable parts of the entire game was how Iron Man’s jumping motion exuded the flair that Robert Downey Jr. brought to the Iron Man films. Agent Coulson, voiced by the fan-favorite Clark Gregg, even shows up with his Destroyer gun to join in on the LEGO-y fun. And like in everything else Marvel, Stan Lee makes an appearance as himself.
Previous LEGO games have limited you first playthrough by only giving you a set amount of characters to play through a certain amount of levels with. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes switches it up constantly so that every level has a different assortment of heroes with some combinations that, while random, work very well together. One level would have you blasting and smashing your way through a level as Iron Man and the Hulk, while the next has you infiltrating a subterranean Hydra base as Hawkeye and Black Widow with powers-based support coming in the second half of the level, in the form of the Human Torch and Spider-Man. This constant switching keeps you from being too attached to one character. The wide variety of heroes to choose from reminded me of all the fun I had with the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series. An interesting addition to LEGO Marvel Super Heroes are the Big Figs such as the Hulk, the Thing, and Juggernaut among others. These larger than normal figures are primarily used as the muscle and are great at taking out a bunch of enemies at once or pounding away at other Big Figs in QTE beatdowns.
Every new entry in the LEGO series builds and improves on the last, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is no exception. Unfortunately, there is a major annoyance that keeps this game from being as great as it could be. The camera has a grating habit of not staying still when you need it to and moving when it should be staying still. You’ll have to restart more than an acceptable number of challenges and races because the camera gets stuck in a view that doesn’t let you see where you’re going. The most annoying occurrence of this is when you try to fly in anything other than a straight line. The camera actually fights you and does the opposite of what you want. It got bad enough at times to make me quit the game from frustration. I did notice some framerate dips from time to time but only at a specific area and not frequently; this may also be limited to the PS3 version since that’s the one I was playing. I also found it strange that for a game built for co-op, there was no option for an online co-op.
I really wish Traveller’s Tales had a chance to get this taken care of since it really affects the gameplay and detracts from all the amazing work done with every other aspect of the game. Everything from the amazing open world, to the nods towards past (frequent reference to the Battle of New York and shawarma) and future Marvel movies (a cameo from the Guardians of the Galaxy) shows how much a dream come true Lego Marvel Super Heroes is to Marvel and Lego fans. I can’t wait for the inevitable sequel to see how they top this one.
[+HUGE selection of characters][+Diverse locations][+Amazing open hub world that lets you go from an alley in Soho to the deck of the Helicarrier high above the New York City skyline without any loadscreens][+Reminiscent of Marvel Ultimate Alliance series][+Abundance of bonus missions][Iron Man and his many, many, many suits][+Bucketfuls of the classic LEGO charm][Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson][+Side mission that had me riding a gorilla, lion, and elephant as Iron Man][-Camera control is horrendous][-Drop in framerate from time to time][-Lack of online co-op]