Superheroes – Video Game – Lego. Four words that are the epitome of super geek cool, have been transfused. The Lego franchise continues to sell in the bucket loads and it was going to take something really special to topple previous Lego games that have incorporated and paid homage to other great franchises such as Batman, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. With this combination of Lego and movie franchises joining forces to make the ultimate family friendly game, where on earth could TT Games and Warner Bros turn to in a bid to enhance their much loved series? Where else but Marvel?
Yes earth’s mightiest heroes (unless you prefer DC Comics) have been banded together for what promises to be the most high profile and action packed Lego game to date. There is no doubt that after The Avengers movie, Marvel are an unstoppable money making bullet train and with a new set of Avengers movies – not to mention the return of the X-Men (Days of Future Past) and a reboot of the Fantastic 4 – why shouldn’t Lego get in on the action? But could Warner deliver the game that kids, adults and superhero fans have been waiting for?
The evil planet-eating god-like alien known as Galactus is hungry and he sends his herald, The Silver Surfer, to find a new planet for him to consume. Believe it or not, the Silver Surfer stumbles upon Earth. The evil Doctor Doom and Loki shoot down the Silver Surfer and his board explodes into several cosmic bricks, which are of great interest (and supposed power) to all the Marvel Super Villains. So our team of amazing heroes have to band together to take on the greatest team of super-villains ever assembled to stop their evil plan and prevent Galactus from destroying our planet. Ok no problem.
Lego games have often been fun and tongue in cheek. They are a pastiche, parody and homage to the franchise they are replicating, yet very much have a unique gameplay style that often towers over its platformer rivals. Every Lego game has involved smashing everything into tiny Lego bricks to collect millions of studs, rescue people in peril or unveil hidden characters – all of which are awash with ‘in the know’ references and humour, But what I first noticed about Lego Marvel is how far Lego games have come since their inception,
Granted Lego Batman 2 and Lego Lord of the Rings first introduced free roam to the franchise and allowed players to fully explore their favourite movie universes with all the panache of Lego sprinkled everywhere. This has in turn replaced the original small hub areas where players used to access the story based levels and unlock extra characters. And it seems Lego Marvel has taken this one step further – Manhattan is huge, distinct and colourful. The amount of things to discover hidden in the alleyways, buildings and rooftops seems endless. The amount of times I ran past an area and thought to myself ‘I have to come back here to find out what that does’ seemed to be a statement I was making over and over in my head.
TT Games set designs are able to please and excite even the most dedicated and stringent of fans as well as keeping the Lego contingent happy. Familiar Marvel locations such as the X-Mansion, The Shield Helicarrier and Stark tower are fantastic representations of either their movie or comic book counterparts. But on the other hand, new areas such as the city itself or a villains secret hideout often bring something new and different to the table that should keep both Lego and Superhero fans happy.
Lego has never encapsulated the spirit of any other franchise as well as they have the Marvel franchise. For the first time ever, every character feels like an individual rather than an archetype. In the past Lego games have had around 100+ characters yet 10 of them are strong characters, another 10 are characters who can jump high and another 10 can do magic etc. You get the idea. This time, even though those archetypes exist, they are not as transparent. Instead of sticking to one or two types of characters you are rewarded from jumping from one hero (or villain) to the other. Each hero has unique movements, combat skills and abilities. Spiderman moves like Spiderman, Hulk smashes like Hulk, Captain America fights like Captain America. You never feel short changed.
All of this is also accentuated by the fantastic voice acting on display. Fan favourites return to voice the characters they have been long associated with over the years, such as Steve Blum (Wolverine), Nolan North (Deadpool) Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) and Stan Lee (as himself). Many questioned whether Lego would lose its magic by adding voices to their characters. Previous adaptations saw any acting replaced by visual slapstick humour, shoulder shrugs or mumblings that resembled a “I don’t know.” However, since Lego Batman 2 the voice acting has become the norm and pushed Lego to the next level. Besides Ironman (who I found a little irritating) the cast have nailed our heroes down to a tee.
Furthermore, something I feel Lego games have needed, are the fact that the Boss battles feel refreshing. Instead of the traditional run up to the bad guy three times and punch them, you will often have to switch character to counter a particular boss, and as the story involves just about every greatest Marvel Super-villain known to man you are often facing more than one nemesis.
So what’s wrong with the game? Actually very little. You could argue that the voiced over hints from Agent Coulson make the game a little too easy but that is offset by the diversity and challenge of the puzzle themselves. The truth is Lego Marvel could be the best Lego game to date. It seem very little has been forgotten about and anyone who have read the comics or watched the movies will feel at home here and be able to laugh in joy at the marvellous job TT Games and Warner Bros has done. Superhero sequels may be predictable and mundane these days but I’m Lego Marvel 2 is on the cards.