I think that itís gotten to the point now where Iíve just become the resident LEGO guy for NFF. It also feels like weíve gotten to the point where almost every four months there is some new franchise that the team at Travellerís Tales have managed to transform into the now ubiquitous and somewhat iconic square block. Iíve been pretty vocal about how tiring I found the repetitive releases of the LEGO games in the past few years, but at the same time the latest installments in the franchise have been going in the right step to right their wrongs and come out as genuinely enjoyable products. LEGO Marvel takes more cues from LEGO City: Undercover than previous games but thatís not exactly a bad thing either.
The game follows a rather typical super hero plot. Silver Surfer is chased by the members of SHIELD and knocked out of the sky. His surfboard shattering into ďcosmic bricksĒ, each part falls onto the earth. Considering the power held within the bricks, now infamous villains Doctor Doom and Loki bring together a band of villains to create the Doom Ray of Doom. Not to be content with letting their villains overrun the planet, SHIELD director Nick Fury calls upon the superheroes of the Marvel Universe to retrieve the blocks before theyíre captured by the villains. Itís a basic story that helps push things along, and as per for the LEGO series, itís filled to the brim with humour that both Marvel veterans and your average player will appreciate.
Sticking very closely to itís now arguably tried and true formula, the LEGO games are the perfect mix of platforming, puzzle solving and most importantly Ė accessibility to players from all kinds of breadths of experience. LEGO Marvel follows in the footsteps of its predecessor by giving players a free roam of a city thatís obviously meant to be New York City, but isnít quite. The city can be explored by players every now and then, with optional content to find and complete to aid towards that ever elusive 100% completion rank. The content isnít particularly compelling, but it is nice to be given the opportunity to take a break and explore every now and then.
When in the main story missions, players move through the environment to bash up enemies, destroy objects in the environment to collect ďstudsĒ. Being a LEGO game, players can also search the area for items to rebuild Ė many of which allow the player to proceed or find one of the gameís hundreds of collectibles. The game also continues the tried and true tradition of having certain characters having certain characteristics that allow them to access specific areas of the environment.
And itís probably the thing that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes does best Ė both puzzle and boss encounters require you to switch characters nearly seamlessly to traverse to new areas or overcome new obstacles. Characters like Captain America can throw their projectiles to hit distant switches, Hulk can pick up and throw large objects and Spiderman can swing across gaps using his webs. Each of the characters is thoughtfully given a special power that pays respectful homage to their comic book origins too, so itís nice to see the package is totally authentic.
The way the game handles the puzzles isnít particularly endearing however, and most of the puzzles youíll encounter in LEGO Marvel will only prove challenging to the youngest of players. Most of them boil down to destroying items, rebuilding them as something else to assist you and then progressing, with the odd character switch between. Itís enjoyable switching characters and discovering their abilities, but itís also sometimes very vague as to who youíre meant to be using so some younger players may have trouble grasping the puzzles. This is the weird thing about LEGO Marvel Ė itís easy but at the same time itís a bit too presumptuous of its target audience. Itís a weird kind of dichotomy to deal with during gameplay but many older players shouldnít have too many problems.
Wii U functionality really isnít all that exhaustive either and is a fine re-tread of whatís been offered in previous games. Thereís a map for exploration during the city landscape as well as the option to switch between characters on-the-fly (and, as with LEGO Batman, itís more cumbersome than using the triggers). And for those moments when youíre not able to use the TV, the game is completely playable on the Gamepad off-screen too. The unique multiplayer mode also returns Ė where one player can play exclusively on the Gamepad while another can play on the main screen completely.
If youíre a completionist, the game provides a comprehensive statistics tracker that allows you to know exactly what youíve missed in the game and where to locate it. Those who want to find absolutely everything will easily take around thirty hours to find absolutely everything. Those who want to just play the story and enjoy a small amount of side content will probably take about ten to fifteen hours, which is where most playthroughs of the game will fall in terms of completion time. As previously with other LEGO games, your enjoyment of this rather substantial adventure really does depend on your experience with the franchise itís based on. Personally, being a huge Marvel fan, I felt compelled to unlock all of my favourite characters and vehicles, and given how much Marvel seems to be in vogue right now, itís hard to believe hardly anyone wouldnít enjoy the journey LEGO Marvel offers.
In terms of presentation, the team have done a fantastic job at putting a lot of effort into recreating all the iconic Marvel characters and landmarks. You can only get so sharp using models of LEGO, but the way these models are used to create large and epic moments that youíd see in the Marvel films are fantastic. Thereís voice work too, and when combined with an epic musical score, these moments really have a great amount of weight lended to them. Itís bound to reel in the younger players into the excitement and it really gives you a rush as you enter into these major set pieces.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is yet another LEGO game, but itís still got that sheen and shine to it that itís yet to get bored. I said this previously in one of my other LEGO reviews, but thereís bound to be a point where we begin to experience diminishing returns. Thankfully, that moment hasnít quite hit yet with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes but itís bound to happen soon. Regardless, the general formula as to whether youíll enjoy this LEGO game remains the same Ė if you have a huge interest in the franchise this is based on, then give it a go. If youíve never really enjoyed a LEGO game, this one wonít win over any new fans either. Act accordingly.