LEGO MARVEL Super Heroes Review – Not that heroic
It’s refreshing to see LEGO games take a huge franchise and actually use it to craft their own story. If you know the standard affair for these games then LEGO Marvel Super Heroes will feel perfectly familiar, and that’s exactly what makes the game’s quality so divisive. Its frequent use of overused and simplistic mechanics can either feel highly enjoyable or just painfully dull. Nonetheless, the game’s large and open world is easily the most enjoyable part of the game, and can make up for some of the rather dull and repetitive story missions.
The story features Dr Doom and his “Bricks of Doom” or something to that effect. Stop the bad guys from being basically evil. It’s a suitably dumb setup that perfectly serves as being an excuse to include everyone from the Marvel universe in some form or another. And it’s easy to see that storytelling isn’t exactly the biggest strength of the LEGO games, especially when it comes to telling their own story. Even though the writing is generally alright, the inclusion of a fully voiced script in a LEGO game feels somewhat disloyal to the spirit of past LEGO games, but I guess it’s quite difficult to tell their own story without any dialogue. Plus the voice acting itself is rather corny and pretty hammed up.
Just like the latest LEGO titles, LEGO Marvel features a fully fledged open-world, full of quests, vehicles, and just so many god damn coins. Surprisingly, roaming around the reasonably large city is some of the most fun I had with the game, and it certainly beats the rather dry and repetitive story mode. The open world also gives a nice change of scenery from the tight and enclosed story missions that often feel very restricting. Although, some of the side quests suffer from some frustrating design flaws, like the far too frequently occurring and completely unenjoyable escort quests that force you to babysit the AI. Nonetheless, flying, running and driving around a busy and thriving New York City is still a lot of fun, and there are a lot of pieces of great side content to be found.
The combat is somewhat more complex than in previous games (it’s still button-mashy as hell though) with the inclusion of a quasi combo mechanic that effectively multiplies the worth of coins for each enemy killed. Although the combat itself is still as simplistic as was in other LEGO games, at least there’s now an incentive to kill enemies as fast as possible to maintain the multiplier. However, combat takes second place to the immense quantity of pretty rudimentary puzzles that litter the dry and quite tedious story missions. These puzzles usually require you to simply use one character to help another character overcome an obstacle using their character-specific abilities. If you’ve played a LEGO game in any capacity you’ll know exactly what to expect, and if you’ve played a considerable quantity of them then the tired formula can become exhaustively tedious pretty quickly.
Although some of the story missions can be a bit of a drag, they are worth trawling through just to open up and unlock the impressive wealth of playable Marvel characters that are available. Roaming around as one of many recognizable faces is ultimately satisfying even if you only appreciate the Marvel universe from a distance. What makes it so entertaining is not only seeing how great the charming Lego figures are for every character, but also seeing how well the game captures and uses the many, many different powers and abilities that each hero and villain has, and just seeing how every character has his or her own unique capabilities. Every character feels faithfully and accurately portrayed in Lego form and it really puts a light-hearted spin on everything.
The game generally looks pretty good with some pretty good-looking, and very shiny, character models, but performance can get a little choppy at times and its consistency certainly feels a little spotty. Aside from the corny voice acting, the sound design is generally pretty solid and certainly sounds suitable for a LEGO game. Unfortunately, LEGO still don’t have even the most basic of mouse support and the keyboard controls are pretty nasty, which makes playing without a controller a real rough experience.
Overall, LEGO Marvel is exactly what it sounds like: the Marvel universe combined with the unflinchingly standard formula of the LEGO games. Unfortunately, the game suffers from a lack of variety and often a tedious reliance on mechanics that have been central in LEGO games from the very beginning. And although the game’s open world is one of the better parts of the game, it feels a little flawed in execution with its repetitive and dull nature of the side content. However, the charming representation of the Marvel universe and all its weird and wonderful characters make the game’s rather dull story mode worth getting through just to see which character will show up next.