Traveller’s Tales are, at this point, a master of their art. Creating family friendly licensed games under the Lego brand, they have moved between some of the biggest entertainment licences seemingly without friction creating a gaming dynasty with the same lasting appeal as many of Nintendo’s greats. Now working with the Marvel licence, their latest title, Lego Marvel Super Heroes will certainly build on what has gone before, but will it add anything new?
Super villains rarely need a reason to be evil, even less so when they are over blown Lego interpretations of their true selves. So, when you learn that Dr Doom has gathered all of the Marvel bad guys together with the aim of doing something dastardly, you never stop to question it.
The short version is that Doom has attacked and captured the Silver Surfer, and is now gathering the ‘Cosmic Blocks’ that once made up his board, in order to build Dr Doom’s Doom Ray… of Doom. And now, with the help of anyone who will listen, he is setting his plan in motion.
It is a plan destined for disaster however, as while the forces of evil are well represented, so too are those of good. With the X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic 4, and ensemble cast all on hand to thwart these diabolical deeds.
Much like the story, the gameplay is fairly standard Lego fair. That is in no way to its detriment of course, as Traveller’s Tales have been refining their games for years now, and every lesson they have learnt has been poured lovingly into Marvel Super Heroes.
The huge open hub world is in play, just as in Lego Batman 2, while the levels themselves are the kind of straightforward, action-puzzle-platforming that fans will recognise and newcomers of all ages will love.
It is perhaps this, the understanding of its audience, that is any Lego game’s strongest asset. The removal of any real penalty for death (bar some lost blocks), ensures that all family members can play and have fun with it, while also mitigating many of the game’s issues.
This sentiment is mirrored in the game replayable nature. Numerous unlockables, collectables, and side tasks mean that the game can be consumed for months as you revisit it as you would a child’s favourite movie, while always finding new things to enjoy.
It would be easy to shower the game with praise but it has a number of flaws that could be game breaking in a harder, or less charming, game.
Foremost among these problems comes the sheer volume of abilities each character has, all must be understood to easily navigate the games many puzzles. As at any one time you can control multiple characters, knowing whose ability to use, and in which small area in which to use them leads to many tasks feeling more like trial and error rather than problem solving exercises.
Issues are not limited to puzzles. Camera angles prevent you seeing your character, along with difficulties in knowing where to go next, combine to provide a constant problem.
Luckily, again, Lego’s ease comes to its aid. Not seeing characters during a fight has little or no effect on the eventual outcome, while undertaking anything puzzle related will see opponents forming and orderly queue to attack when you finish the task at hand.
While some of the mechanics may be flawed at points, the overarching look and presentation more than make up for this. Its charming character designs and cut scenes perfectly invoke the movies on which they are based, while Lego’s tongue-in-cheek humour can be appreciated by the whole family.
Though voice actors vary in effectiveness, with their constant chatter during missions proving either entertaining or repetitive, this too ultimately works in the game’s favour by offering something to keep you distracted while you try and solve some of the game’s more complicated puzzles.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes multiplayer remains a local drop-in, dropout affair. The franchises (relatively) recently added reactive split screen ensures both players have the freedom explore what they want, which is especially important in the open hub world.
Really, multiplayer is the way Lego games are meant to be experienced with this proving no exception, but this doesn’t mean it’s without flaws. The fantastic split screen can easily make players unfamiliar with the game feel quite nauseous as it spins around itself, and the need to utilise characters correctly to solve puzzles can lead to arguments in even the most loving families.
But, ultimately, it is the act of playing together, and (for many parents) being able to be entertained while watching, that is so unique in the Lego series; a trait not lost here.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes does little more than put a Marvel veneer over the already well-walked Lego game series. As Traveller’s Tales most recent iteration on the formula, it is perhaps their most polished, and the collective cast certainly extends the appeal in new directions. In truth, if you are a fan of either Marvel or Lego then you already know you want this, and all I can do is reassure you that it is the game you think it is.