By Shane Wall
The Marvel universe is a perfect fit with the humor of the LEGO franchise. In particular both Spider Man and Iron Mans feel like they were created solely for this LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Their tongue and cheek sarcasm rivals even that of Deadpool, who makes an appearance selling red cheat blocks as only a self aware video game character could. From the very first cutscene the tone of the game's humour is set. Dr. Doom has hired villains throughout the Marvel universe to collect cosmic bricks for his evil plan involving, of course, Dr. Doom’s Doom Ray of Doom. It's safe to say that this game had me chuckling the entire time.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes offers up a mix between the chapter style missions of older LEGO games and open world sandbox style seen in LEGO City. You can roam around the Marvel universe's version of Manhattan at your leisure or go directly from assignment to assignment, battling super villains along the way. If, like me, you've ever wanted to play GTA as Iron Man, this is likely as close as you will get to a seeing that dream realized.
With over 100 characters to unlock and a staggering amount of hidden collectables that we have come to expect in LEGO games, the replay value of Marvel Super Heroes is fantastic. After each level is complete, you can then play them again using the free play option, allowing you to go back and look for hidden items while using any of the characters you have unlocked so far. There are also 50 hidden LEGO Stan Lee characters trapped in perilous situations throughout the game for you save. It’s the least you could do. After all we all know he created most of the characters in the game.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes can be a lot of fun solo but playing co-op makes an already good game much better. A very pleasant surprise is the split-screen, which moves around depending on where you are on the screen. If you're playing as Thor and you fly high above your companion, the split-screen line will move from vertical to horizontal. It’s constantly moving and disappearing altogether when it’s not needed, letting you keep your focus on your character rather than a side of the screen. Some problems occur when you need to hack a terminal and your player 2 is flying around like a madman, but it’s a massive improvement on the split-screen of old. To take an idea like the simple but necessary split screen that has worked forever and improve it is an amazing accomplishment. I hope other developers take note and this new style will become the standard.
With so many playable characters to choose from, I was worried this would be a never-ending tutorial. Fortunately many of the characters share the same super powers, so after a while you will know what to do with a new character without having to be told. A common power is that of flight shared between many of the Marvel crew. This can be a little tricky to master (especially when trying to fly at full speed between buildings in New York), but after some practice you’ll get the hang of it.
From the very beginning of the game I was impressed with the soundtrack. It's, in a word, immense. It really helps to bring this world of heroes and gods to life and gives the game a huge sense of scale. Playing in a surround sound environment with such fantastic music and well-performed voice acting makes it impossible to put down. Even though this is a cute looking simple LEGO game there are some impressive visuals. Upon entering Asgard for the first time, it’s obvious the developers have gone to a lot of trouble to recreate environments from the movies and comics. Seeing how a person, place or thing (not the Thing) is represented when made of LEGO is always fun and sometimes just ridiculous.
I have always been a Marvel fan and it’s nice to see so many characters in the roster. It’s clear the team has taken a lot of care to make everyone’s favorite characters true to their counterparts. There are loads of bonus jokes and things to keep Marvel fans on the lookout, including little things like a billboard with version of the first issue cover of The Superior Spider-Man. Even if your not a huge Marvel or even like LEGO, this game is just so fun.
The story is clever in that it doesn’t get convoluted even with the constant changing of characters. Involving such an impressive array of monsters and mutants in one big story is impressive. As with all LEGO games the narrative remains cheery and G rated. That doesn’t mean however that you have to be in primary school to enjoy it. If you’re not that into a lame sense of humor wall crawling with puns chances are you wont find this game that funny. Super villains all tend to share the same humor so it’s kind of unavoidable.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn’t without it’s flaws but with so much on offer small imperfections become unimportant. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed myself so much playing a game. Something that can cut through all the serious, moody titles populating the gaming world at the moment is important now and then. This is a must have for Marvel fans and anyone who isn’t allergic to fun.