by Brian Robbins
Marvel has been doing quite well lately. Last year’s summer blockbuster The Avengers smashed numerous box office records and Marvel successfully merged with mega-corporation Disney- things have been going Marvel’s way for quite some time. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since we were given a quality video game based on the Marvel Universe. With Lego: Marvel Superheroes, TellTale Games hopes to change that. In many ways, it’s the best Lego game yet but at the same time it does overreach in certain aspects.
Upon starting the grand adventure, you’ll learn that the ever-looming Lego version of Galactus is creeping towards Earth and he sends Silver Surfer to scout out the planet. It goes from bad to worse when Doctor Doom and other fellow Marvel villains decide to take advantage of the situation. Not only are the Avengers sent to take care of the task but you also have the likes of the Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men and even Howard the Duck attempting to quell the planet-eating mess.
As huge Marvel fans, Telltale delivers a passionate storyline. It’s evident these guys watch and read all things Marvel. You’ll have plenty of quips between characters about certain movies they’ve been in and even an achievement featuring Captain America and the Human Torch (played by Chris Evans in their respective movies). It was great as a fan of the Marvel brand to play something that the creators were equally invested in. Also, there are plenty of laugh out loud moments between The Hulk and Tony Stark.
You can only get so far with a great storyline in a game; you have to complement the software with great gameplay as well. Unfortunately for some, Lego: Marvel Superheroes doesn’t branch away from the same Lego gameplay formula it’s forged from the past. You’ll find the same recognizable puzzles, same brick collecting only with a Marvel coat of paint. Even as a huge fan of Marvel comics, I’ve played this game before. From Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings and even the DC brand, it’s all the same basic outline.
That being said, they do try and add in some other elements to the worn-out mechanics. For instance, there’s a pretty neat skydiving feature when you’re on the Helicarrier quest hub. I spent way too much time jumping all of my characters off of that thing. It also adapts the free-roaming gameplay from Lego Batman 2. My biggest gripe with this game is the horrid controls when you’re swinging, flying or running around in the Lego version of New York. You can’t go anywhere accurately, and the in-game map is atrocious. If you want to unlock most of the characters, you have to do this in free-roam New York so you’re forced to scramble around with terrible controls.
Speaking of characters, this game has the biggest selection of any of the Lego games. My nerd senses were definitively tingling as I could unlock Superior Spider-Man, Daredevil and even unknowns like Squirrel Girl. As with many Marvel entertainment products this game not only features Stan Lee cameos but you can actually unlock Stan the Man himself. He can use all of Spider-Man’s powers, along with turning into a Hulk version of himself. He definitely breaks the game from a balance standpoint but who cares? Excelsior!
All Lego video games are made to be played with your friends. That’s not to say it isn’t a blast to play by yourself but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you replace your terrible AI teammates. There were multiple times that my computer controlled allies got in my way and negatively affected my experience. I encountered this problem with almost all of the Lego games and it’s a shame they haven’t really worked this out. The most unfortunate and almost unforgivable sin this game commits is the lack of online co-op. Current systems have been out for almost eight years and they still couldn’t manage to get this feature in? This game is also coming out for the PS4 and Xbox One- maybe we can expect to see it there. Don’t get your hopes up, though, as that’s not likely to be the case.
There have been quite a few Lego games delivered to us over the years and most of them were a blast to play. This game is no exception; there are some bugs and stuttering frame rate issues but it’s hardly anything to get caught up by. As with all Lego software products, the latest one is better than the last. Lego: Marvel Superhero barely changes any of the old Lego formulas but with such a rich database of heroes and villains it’s easy to overlook. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to unlock Howard the Duck.