If you played any of the previous Lego games from Traveller’s Tales then you pretty much know what to expect. If you saw any of the Marvel movies, especially The Avengers, then you pretty much know what to expect. The game is called Lego Marvel Super Heroes...what did you expect? That’s not to say there aren’t a few surprises along the way. Don’t discount this title as a movie tie-in as it does have it’s own storyline and it’s a good little game to boot!
Did you hear that?
Traveller’s Tales Lego games almost always entertain me. My first experience, probably like many others, was with the Lego Star Wars games. It was as if chocolate met peanut butter but in game form...and with Lego and Star Wars. The game was light, fun, humorous and, for me, set the standard by which I judge all other Lego games. I loved how they were able to tell the story through simple minifig body language. The key to those games and others was that you knew the story. You didn’t need the words to move it along. The environments and characters were familiar and when you minifig shrugged or tilted his head you knew exactly what they were saying.
Then Traveller’s Tales broke that “magic” when they introduced voices into Lego Batman 2. At first, voices from my minifigs was a tough pill to swallow. In fact, I had a hard time playing it at first and I kept putting it aside. It dawned on me one day when I was watching my nephew play the Star Wars game why TT added them. My nephew knew the Star Wars story and knew in a basic sense what he had to accomplish to get past that mission. These newer games had new untold stories and I could see how that might leave the younger players lost. I finally accepted these little plastic people talking to me and other characters in the game so when I first loaded up Lego Marvel Super Heroes and heard voices such as Agent Phil Coulson’s (voiced by Clark Gregg) it was a pleasant surprise.
That is actually how I could classify this entire game; it’s a pleasant surprise. In my opinion, Marvel as a universe on whole always had a lighter take on its characters and storylines than it’s main rival DC. If I were to compare Lego Marvel Super Heroes against Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes I would say the same thing. This game is light, fun, doesn’t take itself too seriously and maintains the better game play elements from previous games. It doesn’t try to do anything radically different but in this case that is perfectly fine. I remember constantly dying in the Indiana Jones games trying to jump to a swinging rope or onto a ledge. I wasn’t timing it wrong, I was off the sweet spot by what seemed like a fraction of a millimeter while the camera angle continually worked against me. Those games became a chore to slog through quite quickly. Not once did I feel that way about Lego Marvel Super Heroes.
The story is basically several Saturday morning cartoon plot lines back when Saturday morning cartoons were good. League of villains trying to takeover and destroy the earth. League of good guys banding together to stop them. Through the course of the main missions you will play as Iron Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Spiderman, Thor, Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, The Invisible Woman, Black Widow, Hawkeye, The Thing and more (watch for a recurring cameo). All uniquely voiced and all with distinct personalities based on their comic book personas.
Always look on the bright side of life
This is still a Lego game so their minifig personalities are based more on the lighter Marvel Universe comics than the other more mature versions of themselves. That should be expected as this is a game geared for kids, and the kid that thrives in some of us “older” kids, and it enhances the fun. The dialog between characters is ripe with inside jokes and even some more geared for the adults. When Director Fury commands you to get those gosh darn snakes off his gosh darn helicarrier or goes into a Pulp Fiction type rant I couldn’t help but smile and chuckle. When The Human Torch comments that the rainbow bridge leading to Asgard just makes him want to race (which is exactly what I thought when I watched the first Thor movie) I had a good little laugh mainly as I can’t stand that Rainbow Road level in Mario Kart. The best lines aren’t all saved for the heroes, the villains have a few of their own as well.
Typically when I play these games I break everything I can to make sure I get 100% of the studs needed and as many extras as I can find. I play this way so that when I play with my kids, who only like playing in free play, a number of characters are already unlocked and the mission becomes secondary to just having fun. This time, while I tried to get 100% of the studs needed I also tried to stick to the mission at hand and not venture off. When I finished the game in about 12 hours I had just over 20% complete. It isn’t a long game when looking at the main mission alone but that other 80% leaves a lot of game left to explore.
Below the line
There are a few disappointments with this game. Same couch co-op is there, like many other Lego games, but for some inexplicable reason online co-op is absent. Why would that be left out? This is the perfect game for online co-op and Traveller’s Tales included it before on other games so there is no reason why it couldn’t happen with Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Playing couch co-op is what I love to do but the rotating split screen has got to go. It sounds like a great idea on paper as it gives you the whole screen to work with but it will work against you more than a number of times while you play. As the split rotates around to follow you or your partner's character, the camera shifts as well forcing you to continually adjust aiming or you’ll risk suddenly losing sight of your target. In Free Play, which is all about changing to the right character, the selection screen flips to whatever side of the screen you are on or plunks itself in the middle. More than once Mrs. Soup and I cursed this scheme while we played. While the character selection is color coded it never seemed to pop up where we expected it would.
Lastly, the control scheme seems off. Normally, this hasn’t been an issue in most Lego games but for some reason I had a bitch of a time controlling my minifig when walking, flying or driving. At their normal pace everything was fine but when they all of a sudden get their giddy-up you had to hang on for dear life. I found myself, more often than not, easing off as soon as the minifig sped up. This annoyed me as many a time you had to walk your little yellow avatar to the next mission. I have an issue with walking in games from point to point to start a mission. I understand that there are many side missions to be discovered along the way but I should be able to just choose the next mission without wasting five minutes getting to the next start point. I know, five minutes....”stop whining Chunky”...but when my game time is getting harder and harder to carve out of my day that extra 20 minutes or so of just walking is 20 minutes I could use to finish a mission, pick up the dog crap in the backyard or do the dishes to earn some all important brownie points with Mrs. Soup!
All in all, besides the points listed above, this is a fun game. Given that Lego Marvel Super Heroes can be found for $30 or less at this point I recommend picking this title up-especially if you enjoyed other Lego games, have kids and want to play with them, have something they can play together, enjoy the Marvel universe or all of the above.