LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn’t a game you should go into looking for innovation.  It’s a story you’ve heard thousands of times before — New York City is in danger and must be saved.   The general gameplay is similar to any LEGO game you’ve played before.  What makes the game stand out is the never-gets-old look and feel of seeing your favorite Marvel heroes in LEGO brick form.  Whether the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, or just about any other Marvel-related hero is your cup of tea, you’ll probably find them in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.  The game is far from perfect, but it’s a good time that’ll keep you coming back for more.

Avengers … assemble! (ages 5+)

  • TL;DR: Good game with a huge cast held back by low difficulty
  • Platform: PS4
  • Score: 7.5
  • Hours Played: 10
  • What I Played: Story mode (co-op)
  • Recommended: Yes, but don’t expect a hardcore gaming experience

LEGO Marvel Superheroes leads with Dr. Doom destroying Silver Surfer’s surfboard and stealing the Cosmic Bricks that comprised it.  Doom, as he puts it, is planning “Dr. Doom’s Doomsday of Doom.”  You have access to almost every Marvel hero, and some villains, to try and stop him.  You’ll earn studs (money) as you play, which are used to unlock the dozens and dozens (155, if you want to be technical) of playable characters.  The first mission has you playing as Ironman, Hulk, and Spiderman, but you’ll quickly have access to the Fantastic Four and multitudes of X-Men, to name a few.

Each superhero has his/her own superpower (duh!) which can be used for both combat and solving puzzles.  Unfortunately, the puzzles boil down to having the right superpower for the job and hardly ever anything more.  You may need to melt something, but do you use Ironman’s Unibeam or Human Torch’s … human torchiness?  If you need to move something heavy, do you use Hulk or Abomination?  Spiderman has his trademark Spidey-sense, but Wolverine and Doc Ock have similar powers.  Some powers seem to be unique to certain characters, like Captain America’s shield being able to unlock certain switches.  These puzzles are hardly ever difficult, but they can be difficult to find.  My co-op partner and I had to look up a few things after killing every enemy in the room and searching high and low for the right piece of environment to shoot/move/activate.

My only other LEGO experience is LEGO Star Wars, so the full voice acting in LEGO Marvel Superheroes was new for me.  Luckily, it’s done very well.  Each actor and actress delivers one-liners and sarcasm at an almost dizzying pace, but in a good way.  When Nick Fury asks about getting lunch and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent says Tony Stark knows a good shwarma place, it’s hard not to chuckle.  There’s also a moment in Asgard when Human Torch mentions that the bridge is a “rainbow road” and he just wants to race.

Quick-hitters like this keep the game lively

Combat is both fun and very simple.  Many open-world games have characters with assorted weapons, combos, and skills, allowing you to play to your situation.  Combat in LEGO Marvel comes down to jump, use power, or button mashing.  The only penalty for dying is losing some “true believer” progress, but if you already have that then even that isn’t a deterrent.  You will frequently hit and kill your co-op partner, but it doesn’t have much of an impact on the gameplay or pace.

As is standard operating procedure in LEGO games, there are a ton of things to do.  Each level has a “true believer” mark for getting enough studs, along with a Stan Lee cameo and 10 mini kits.  Free play is unlocked for a level after beating it in story mode, allowing you to come back with whatever team you see fit, which most of the mini kits will require.  There are also gold bricks strewn about the city, along with short side missions, and character/vehicle unlocks.  My playthrough was all of story mode with a few side missions thrown in and I’m only at 18.0%.

One incredibly frustrating bit that only pops up in co-op is how the split-screen is handled.  If a game has split-screen, it’s typically either split horizontally or vertically.  In LEGO Marvel, the screen splits when you and your partner are too far apart, but where the split happens depends on the location of the both of you.  While you may be first player, your “screen” can be at the top, bottom, left, or right of the screen.  This can make aiming projectile-based powers difficult as the camera is constantly moving around.  It’s a neat idea, but provides more frustration than good.

Billionaire, philanthropist, 1.5in tall

LEGO Marvel Superheroes is a fun spin on the Marvel universe, reminiscent of Marvel Ultimate Alliance.  Seeing so many heroes scaled down to minifig height is something that never gets old.  Hidden beneath a frustrating camera and almost insultingly-easy puzzles is a deep game with hours and hours of play for full completion.

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