Gamescom 2013: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Preview - Blockbuster!
Written Sunday, September 01, 2013 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
Where can LEGO games go from here? It’s the question that has been asked for a few years now as there seems to be no end in sight for the conveyor belt of licensed titles made from the titular bricks. The real problem, if you can call it that, is that most of the games are just flat out fun, despite the fact that they seem to stick to the same basic premise of smashing up stuff for fun and profit. After the resounding success of the LEGO Batman games it was only a matter of time before Marvel got in on the action and the usual roster of heroes and villains, along with some oddballs, are finally ready to let loose. Ladies and gentlemen, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
As ever you can expect to smash stuff, build stuff and generally have the chance to find a cavalcade of secrets and Easter eggs as you progress through the game. The real joy of Lego games usually happens on the second play through each level anyway, when you have the freedom to use the full range of characters in order to snaffle all of the hidden items scattered around. In fact it is safe to say that Lego games have truly mastered the idea of multiple playthroughs, as your first runthrough lets you sit back and enjoy the story while the second has so many hidden rooms and surprises that it still feels entirely fresh. This approach probably goes some way to explaining the series enduring appeal.
Of course, every superhero game needs a fitting antagonist and who better than Doctor Doom, though his motives are at least a little ambiguous, well until they turn full-on crazy anyway. It seems like the Silver Surfer has designated Earth as a prime location for Galactus’ summer home, or some such, so Doctor Doom decides to swipe a load of cosmic bricks to counter this menace. Sounds like a good dude, right? Oh yeah, he also thinks that once Galactus is dealt with then the whole of humanity will worship him as their saviour and turn on all the heroes and lock them up, or face his wrath. So not so good then. Ah well, can’t blame him for trying. Nick Fury gets wind of this plot and decides to enlist as many superhero types as he can to round up the cosmic bricks first.
In truth the story here is not that important, as you can still expect many of the comedy asides and in jokes that have made the series what it is. The great aspect of this game is the superb attention to detail and ever growing roster of Marvel characters, some of whom may seem a touch obscure to the uninitiated. Sure you can expect Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers et al, but there is also room for characters like Howard the Duck, Silver Samurai, the Blob and a host of bigger minifig characters like the Hulk and Abomination. The bigger characters can literally smash aside foes, grapple scenery and the like, but the real beauty is the sense of whimsy that has gone into each character to make them unique.
Mr Fantastic has stretchy limbs so that he looks like a crazy Dhalsim in combat, or you can turn him into a teapot at the touch of a button. Why? Well, just because it’s fun. A lot of characters have their own little quirks and tics just to make things a little more interesting and so that players can just mess around when they want to. Stan Lee is also in there with a plethora of powers, from web slinging and heat vision to a full on Stan Lee Hulk transformation, replete with tache and glasses. Clearly they’ve chosen characters that aren’t just iconic but also some that are just there for good times and giggles.
We also got to see a little more of the free-roaming aspect of the game. As the LEGO games have evolved they have taken on more and more of an open-world approach to the hub areas that house the individual levels and this one is no different. You can roam the famous Helicarrier and then, if you so choose, skydive into New York itself which provides a fun stud collecting mini-game on its own. New York is a huge map full of all of the iconic locales from countless Marvel series. So Stark Tower, the Baxter Building, Dr Strange’s Sanctum Santorum and even the X-Men mansion, which has been shuffled in from its traditional Westchester leafy locale, are all waiting to be discovered and explored with key missions linked to certain areas as well as countless little asides for you to discover along the way. A circus has set up in Central Park, just because the team felt it would be fun, and players can just roam the city looking for quirky stuff to do.
After landing in the park for the first time players can then use Mr Fantastic to stretch through some grates and open the main gate, via turning into an oversized pair of bolt cutters. The nearby Baxter building is in lockdown, but we can use Captain America’s shield to deflect the encroaching lasers and shut it down. Fantastic can then glide between platforms to open the door and gain us access to the building so we can see what nefarious villain has gained entry.
Once inside a host of robots attack and it’s up to our heroes to shut them down and move on. In truth there is not much here that we haven’t seen before but the implementation is certainly well done, each character has their own set of abilities and powers. Some of these interact with specific doors, pads and locations so that you can use them to progress the story or access hidden nooks and crannies. And with over a hundred and fifty Marvel favourites on show, there's sure to be something for everyone.
In what is likely to be the last LEGO game for current-generation consoles - though it will be available for next-gen platforms too - this is probably the zenith of the series so far. It has a massive roster of beautifully animated characters, the biggest range of abilities to date and a large open-world to explore outside of the regular suite of missions. As ever though, the game still revolves around smashing and building but we really wouldn’t have it any other way.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes may follow the same formula as the rest of the LEGO games, but the charm and scope on offer is superb and the storyline is full of iconic locations and ideas that do full justice to the Marvel world. In fact, this could well be the best Marvel game made to date, and that is testament to the enduring appeal of those breakable bricks.
Prepare to save the world when LEGO Marvel Super Heroes swoops onto shelves in November 2013.