Over the past 11 years TT Games, developers of the popular LEGO games, have gone about trying to add just about every major movie property to their growing list of LEGO titles. We’ve seen Indiana Jones films, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and the middle earth epic Lord of the Rings, all receive a very blocky makeover. 2013 saw the Marvels expansive cast get their LEGO debut in Marvel Super Heroes, and for the most part the game received some very positive reviews. Now the world’s first avenger, the billionaire genius, and god of thunder return to tackle Marvels Cinematic Universe in LEGO Marvel Avengers.
When I first got the game I was rather excited to get started, having not played through a full LEGO game since their first movie tie-in, Star Wars. The only other times I’ve delved into the franchise since is to help bail out a certain family member whenever they get stuck (mostly obtaining unlockables). This meant I was able to approach the game with a fresher perspective and compare just how the series has moved on from where they started.
The game follows the events of the two blockbuster Avenger films Assemble and Age of Ultron. You start out playing the opening scenes of the second film, where the world’s mightiest heroes are trying to recover Loki’s sceptre from the remains of Hydra. After this opening level you’re then thrown right back to the start of the first Avengers film. While initially it feels odd to jump back through the timeline like this, it does makes sense as an extended tutorial. With all of the heroes together you can quickly get to grips with how each of their unique abilities work.
Along the way you get short jaunts into a handful of other Marvel films including Captain America the First Avenger and Winter Solider, Thor Dark World and Iron Man 3. However, it’s only for one level per film, and no other movies in Marvels, now long list, make an appearance. In past LEGO titles you could jump around rather haphazardly between films and there was much more to do in them, so it’s a surprise that the same hasn’t been done here. Ant Man does make an appearance but only in the form of DLC and Guardians of the Galaxy is only briefly referenced in the ending, which gives the impression that’s what TT games have got their eye on next.
The game features over 100 characters many of whom are among Marvels lesser known heroes and villains. Fin Fang Foom, Devil Dinosaur, and Squirrel Girl are among the top most obscure, but welcome, cameos. They are very fun to play with and it’s nice that some of the smaller characters are getting some of the limelight, but it doesn’t cover up the fact that characters that should be there aren’t. I’m talking about Wolverine and the X-men, the Fantastic Four, and oddly enough the now jointly owned Spiderman. As the game revolves around the cinematic universe, WB and TT games have been hit with the heavy licencing restrictions that plague the movies, which is a real pity.
The gameplay is pretty much the same as every other LEGO game. Monotonous combat where you wail on constantly spawning enemies, that insist on getting in your way while you solve a series of simple puzzles to progress. The only real difference, it seems, to the combat this time around, is that the gap between human and super has been highlighted more. Human characters appear to have to deal out more attacks to destroy enemies as opposed to their superhuman counterparts. Besides that, there are QTE grapples that can be performed to kill enemies in one attack. However, they take several seconds to perform and they repeat the same cheesy lines, over again so you tire of them quickly. Innovation is something the gameplay is really lacking, there’s no RTS element like there was in The Hobbit, and besides the main team the rest of the casts abilities are rather samey, compared to DC’s well developed group of super powered heroes.
Between each scenario you do get to explore a number of smaller open world environments full of gold bricks. It’s these open world sections to explore that help hold the game up, and where I found myself spending most of my time. Sheild’s Helicarrier, Asgard, and (although reused from Marvel Super Heroes) Manhattan, are all fully explorable areas, filled by a number of mini games, fetch quests and racing games that give some nice unlockables. You can find a lot of joy flying through Manhattan as Thor, or beating up thugs alongside Moonknight. Some of the quest you come across can actually be more enjoyable then the main plot just because they are unique from the Cinematic Universe, and they at least feature some original dialogue.
The events of the Marvel films have been lovingly animated in to LEGO form, but it’s let down by the fact all of the characters lines have been recorded straight from the films, and not particularly well, as they come across muffled. It particularly shows when they’re played alongside lines actually recorded for the game. Lines from the films such as ‘is that supposed to be a joke’ and ‘there’s no version of this where you come out on top’ are continually repeated throughout the story, or as grapple quotes, so much that eventually players will begin to bore of them. The main problem with this pre-recorded approach though is there’s less freedom for the writers to add in their own jokes, so you’re left relying on more visual keys to get LEGOs own brand of humour.
If you’re a fan of the same LEGO formula, then you’re sure to find something to enjoy from Marvel Avengers. Just don’t expect the slapstick and spoof jokes that we’ve come to see in other title, as here you only get a cutup retelling of the two films, complete with LEGO animations. The gameplay too doesn’t offer anything new, though the open world environments are a nice deviation from the linear plot scenarios. If want a superhero themed LEGO game you may better off with the Dark Knight and friends series.
This review is based off a review code of LEGO Marvel Avengers provided by Stature PR.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.