Review: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

LegoMarvelSuperHeroes

After playing through LEGO-ized Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and DC Super Heroes, the comic book nerd in me couldn’t wait to play LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Fortunately, the game does not disappoint one bit. Releasing gem after gem while adding new and creative gameplay features in each title, TT Games has once again created a LEGO world of fun delight.

In this epic tale of heroes and villains pulled from the pages of Marvel’s legendary comics and molded into digital minifigures, Earth is threatened by Galactus and his ever insatiable hunger for devouring planets. In a bit of a twist, the heroes are the last to understand the threat and instead spend most of their time attempting to stop Doctor Doom (and his Doom Ray of Doom). The story sends the Marvel Heroes around an incredibly detailed open world city of Manhattan recreated in LEGO bricks as they face off against various bad guys who are all trying to collect cosmic bricks to help Doctor Doom. This provides an opportunity to highlight pretty much every major Hero super-team, as these cosmic bricks conveniently all seem to be stored in iconic locations.

Using the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier as a base of operations, Nick Fury leads the heroes through a series of missions which introduce most of the major characters as the story unfolds. As with past LEGO games, the story levels are almost second fiddle to all of the activities and side missions that can be done in the open world. Constant to all LEGO games, is the need to collect gold bricks, which can be used to open new missions. Gold bricks are earned by completing the main story as well as offering help to various citizens found throughout the city. These citizens need help crossing the road, or want neighborhood thugs put in their place, or want pizza delivered. Additionally, heroes not used in the main story offer mini-quests such as competing in races or punishing loud, polluting trucks as they drive through the city.

At first glance, Manhattan is a chaotic nightmare of collectables. In addition to collecting gold bricks, some secondary heroes (or alternate costumes) can be unlocked by performing various feats, such as stopping rampaging Sentinels who are seeking out mutants. Other challenges are more in line with seeing a character token locked away in a cage and trying to figure out which hero needs to be used to disable the lock. Quick change stations scattered throughout the city allow you to switch to a needed hero, or for quicker access to character swapping, holding down the Triangle button pulls up the cast of unlocked heroes. In the PS4 version in particular, tapping the DualShock 4 touchpad brings up the world map which provides easy access to the missions, and allows you to set travel way points. Using the map helps out a lot with collectable hunting and general navigation since missions can be loaded directly without having to travel in the game.

Gold bricks and character and vehicle tokens aren’t the only collectables. Red bricks return and provide cheats which boost stud collection (the currency in the game), as well as highlight where collectables are in the world. Red bricks aren’t just plain red bricks, though. They are Deadpool bricks, which allows the merry fourth-wall-breaking hero to present mini-missions in a signature style. Deadpool also acts as a guide in the city, providing ghost collectable studs which lead to whichever destination is selected for a given quest. Saving Stan Lee (who manages to get himself stuck in a multitude of bad places) is one of the fun, quick distractions provided by the game. JJ Jamison also has a list of locations that Peter Parker needs to take photos of which adds a nice nod to the comics.

For as rich and fantastical as Marvel Super Heroes is, the game is not without some flaws, many of which fall into the recurring theme of bugginess that seems to hinder all LEGO games. I’ve run into a few instances where I’ve collected items and saved and exited the game only to return to find these items reappearing on the map as needing to be collected a second time. I’ve also discovered a little glitch where a task is complete but the cut scene offering the gold brick as a reward failed to trigger. Vehicle control is another weak point. Moving throughout the city can be done by walking, driving in cars, or flying, but the handling inconsistently varies between squirrely and over sensitive, and sluggish and non-responsive. Flying also takes a bit of getting used to (depending on the hero selected) as moving up or down while flying forward can be a stilted and jarring experience. Certain information could also be more clearly presented to the player. Some unlocks require specific heroes or villains to be used (based on the powers they have), but not every puzzle clearly conveys which character is needed. Some puzzles provide a quick flash of a corresponding character token, but trying to sort through which token matches up with the collected inventory can be a bit daunting at times.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a rich treasure trove of love to the world of Marvel Comics. In addition to the broadly recognizable icons of the Marvel Universe, comic fans will be delighted by the inclusion of numerous lesser known heroes and villains, as well as the many nods to all of the storylines and characters from the pages of Marvel lore. Even with some of these minor annoyances and glitches, I can’t help but play this game with a huge grin on my face the entire time.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Huge, well-populated open world
+ Tons of heroes and villains to collect
+ Unique story that isn’t a rehash (from a movie at least)

Cons:
– Poor driving and flying controls
– Minor annoyances and glitches may cause a need to replay sections

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PlayStation 4, also available for 3DS, PC, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Developer: TT Games
Release Date: Current Gen – 10/22/2013, Next Gen – 11/15/2013
Genre: Action-Adventure
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-2 (offline only)
Source: Game purchased by reviewer

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About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.