LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: The Kotaku Review

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: The Kotaku Review

What took so long? I'm not talking about a LEGO Marvel game. LEGO getting the Marvel licence is a relatively new development, all things considered. They announced it in 2011, video game in 2013 — that's fairly quick turnaround for a game as massive in scope as LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.

What I am talking about is an open world video game where I can pick from any of more than 100 Marvel heroes and villains and just go to town. Flying through the skies as Iron Man or the Green Goblin. Barreling through the streets as the Hulk or the Juggernaut. Swinging by a thread as Spider-Man or Venom. Causing destruction, saving the day — whatever. Give me the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe to play with, a major city as my playground, and that's all you need to keep me occupied for days.

We've seen games featuring a wide array of Marvel characters, but none that gave us such freedom. The Marvel Vs. Capcom series let us fight, but that's all. Marvel Ultimate Alliance gave us a huge roster, but limited play space. Even Marvel Heroes, the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, sticks to an isometric view, instead of giving players the freedom to roam of a City of Heroes.

So this is the game I always wanted, just not in the form I expected. Thankfully I am somewhat of a LEGO fan, so the blocky countenance of my favourite characters is something I can overlook, perhaps even revel in, just a little.

"Ah-ha, he's a fan of LEGO, so obviously he's going to like a LEGO video game." Not so! The LEGO video games have steadily worn on me since those first brilliant LEGO Star Wars titles. I enjoy the aesthetic, but with each subsequent release — LEGO Batman, LEGO Indiana Jones, LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Lord of the Rings — I found my interest in playing the games waning. Despite moving closer to an open world with each release, the core was the same — go through story levels, smashing as many things as you can in order to collect bits. You've got endless lives, so there's no danger of failing.

TT Games took a turn for the better with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Here was a game where I could take Superman and fly lazily about the streets of Gotham City. This was good. I wasn't particularly fond of the story, but things were looking up, if you'll pardon the pun. The problem was, dark and dreary Gotham just wasn't a happy backdrop for such a colourful cast of characters.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes gives us New York City, from the skies above to the streets below. Just watch this.

Now watch it another 20-30 times, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what I've been doing for the past week. Jumping, flying, diving, running — romping might be a good term. I've been on a romp through LEGO New York City, playing side missions, unlocking new playable characters, and scouring the entire town for secrets.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is, above all else, a toy box filled with almost every Marvel action figure that matters, and several that don't.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: The Kotaku Review

I'm still not sure where Howard the Duck falls in that spectrum...

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: The Kotaku Review

...but it's nice to have the option to roam the streets as Marvel's anthropomorphic waterfowl. Because that's where the fun of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes lies. Exploring the strange and wonderful history of Marvel Comics through this unique playground. It's the ideal setting for parents to introduce children to the heroes and villains that decorated their younger days. It's something to share.

That's not saying the story isn't excellent. It's got some great dialogue.

And we get to visit iconic Marvel universe locations, from the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, which serves as our base of operations, to the halls of Asgard to Tony Stark's tricked-out tower. Players are guided from place to place, chasing down the powerful Cosmic Bricks that hold the key to defeating the ginormous villain we all saw coming.

Each is magnificently rendered in brick form, filled with moving parts and clever little Easter Eggs for fans of the comics.

Ultimate, however, the story is a series of colourful corridors keeping me from the real meat of the game. Oh I'll play the missions over and over again until I've unlocked every character, vehicle and secret the game has to offer, but I'd much rather be at the X-Mansion taking down a Sentinel, or jacking cars and going on joy rides, Grand Theft Auto-style.

That's really what I wanted all along. The freedom of a Grand Theft Auto with the characters of Marvel Comics. That's what LEGO Marvel Super Heroes delivers. It's about damn time.


Comments

    Pretty sure there's a demo for this on the official website

      Nice tip, thanks.

      http://marvelsuperheroes.lego.com/en-us/videogame/default.aspx

      Its on steam. I have it and i have enjoyed it.

    Learning that Howard the Duck is in it is surprisingly the thing that has now tipped me towards buying this game.

    Played the PS3 demo, it looks really good. I'm going to grab this on the PS4 though since there's nothing else worth getting in my play range.

    Worth noting its on the Vita too.

      Breaks my heart that it's only a port of the 3DS version, like all the other awful Lego games on Vita.

    Played the demo on 360, pretty fun. Same sort of lego gameplay so if you're into that then this theme is pretty awesome.

    I managed to pick this up when they briefly released it at the US date and price. Well on my way to 100% already and thoroughly enjoying it. There's obviously a lot of love and polish gone into it (although it still has a few hold overs from earlier games that could use some work, like the vehicle handling). Its full of detail and neat references and the open world is incredibly dense with activities, including a bunch of entire bonus levels that are gradually unlocked with gold bricks.

    It's well worth picking up. The question now though is where they can go from here.

    Last edited 08/11/13 12:31 pm

      I got it too. I'm guessing you haven't gotten any achievements either?

        I do now that the game has been officially released here. Wound up with about 15 appearing at once when I started the game last night.

          Ah yes, I got a whole bunch of them when I started the game today.

    I also picked it up when it was briefly available on Steam. Have been having massive amounts of fun with it. They really nailed the feel of the characters and the animations are some of the best I've seen anywhere. The Bruce Banner to the Hulk transformation is good but Venom's transformation is better. I think the only character that has been disappointing so far is Wolverine, he just feels a bit slow and weak, even Hawkeye is more fun to play as. So much fun stuff to do in the game though, I've barely scratched the surface.

      Attacking him with Colossus is a cute touch though, albeit one they maybe could have taken a bit further.

    could LEGO just make a Dragon Ball Lego game. Seriously its all they are missing

    Any word on version differences? Not sure whether to go the PC, 360 or 2DS version if I decide to go for this one.

      There's a lot going on in the world. I don't think I'd go for the 2DS one. There hasn't been any appreciable difference between the console and PC skus in the past so it probably comes down to preference more than anything.

      It's like $30 on Steam, and you can probably get it even cheaper if you shop around.

      I played the Vita version of Lego LOTR and it was nowhere near as good as the console versions.

      Out of PC and 360... I got it on PC and the performance has been flawlessly high frame rates even with all the graphics settings all the way up, it's not a taxing game graphically (it does look great though). I did play with a controller on PC though, can't comment on keyboard controls.

        Ah ok PC it is then. I'll be playing with a controller too. Just always like to consider the portable versions for the convenience, especially since pokemon is the only game I have on the 2DS - can feel a little guilty about that sometimes haha. It's annoying when the portable versions aren't as polished. Sounds like a similar story to the walking dead ios version. Games like this would be great to take around with you - it's just a shame they're never as polished.

          Good choice. You get a sneak peak at 'next-gen', this being a launch title for the new consoles. I don't see any way the console version can end up being better than the PC version.

    I bought this via my US Live account and it was indeed a treat!
    Though I've long finished it ( as I didn't want to have anything clash with the One release )
    Silly behind Australia.

    I don't know what it is that Lego have against Australia (and most places outside of NA). Every game they have they release in the US first, then other places up to a month later. I thoroughly enjoyed Lego Universe (which I played while I could with some trickery), but not only did they not allow Australians to join, they shut down the damn thing before ever letting us in!

    I have no issue with differently dated releases for physical products, it just irks me when companies not just not support, but actively prevent international downloads of a product.

      No real excuse for it before, but this time it kind of makes sense to make it coincide with the new consoles.

    You don't need a whole roster of Marvel characters. You only need one, Deadpool.

    Not sure if i've just been missing this new review format all this time, but I really like the "What I played' bit, it really helps give me an idea of what the review is based on. More reviewers should do this! Thanks!

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