With the same game studio now having made both Lego Batman and now Lego Marvel games, it’s hard not to dream of a DC vs Marvel megamix further down the line. But fantasies of blocky Superman clobbering bricky Spider-Man will have to wait for another day – for now, there’s an absurd amount to enjoy in Marvel Super Heroes.
It takes many of its cues from the recent Avengers movies and cast of superdudes, but is more than happy to spin off into lesser-known aspects of the very heavily-populated Marvel comics universe. And unlike Hollywood, rights for the likes of X-Men and Spider-Man aren’t locked into different companies, which means Marvel Super Heroes can offer up all the Wolverine & Captain America or Fantastic Four & Hulk dream-teams a fan could wish for.
The game isn’t simply a parade of who’s who superheroes, though: it’s also perhaps the LEGO series’ finest hour in terms of both scope and spectacle. On paper, it’s doing exactly the same thing as the other dozen-odd games to date – a mix of platforming, puzzling, punching and building/destroying LEGO structures in a gag-packed, affectionately satirical take on its iconic popcultural subject matter. LEGO Marvel manages to amp everything up impressively though – while some of its predecessors have been guilty of mere repetition, this works extremely hard to up the entertainment factor.
Much of this stems from silly-but-grand interpretations of the superheroes’ powers – Hulk can smash everything, Mr Fantastic can transform into a giant teapot or screwdriver, that sort of thing. While the ‘story’ is split into missions, between them an open-world New York offers a destructible, cheerful playground of sidequest-packed cartoon mayhem to tour any character of your choice through.
And while this might be an unlikely touchstone for the potential of next-generation games, a PS4, Xbox One or decent PC sees the game pulling off genuinely incredible, sometimes even beautiful sights you mightn’t have imagined LEGO could do. Colossal, whirling clouds of LEGO studs, collapsing skyscrapers and enormous bosses, and all happening at a breakneck pace thanks to the vast collection of playable Marvel characters on offer.
There’s an awful lot to do, but also a an awful lot to get to grips with. There is an argument to be made that it’s all a bit much, especially for the child audience the game partially courts, and the game’s tendency to repeat some tips ad nauseum but fail to mention others entirely doesn’t help. This isn’t quite the casual fare the series once was, but it’s well worth persevering with the more obtuse aspects, especially if you’re playing it in two-player mode with a nipper.
It’s a shame the basic platforming remains as same the it ever was though, with camera limitations and fiddliness getting in the way of I-can-do-anything joy of the game as a whole. It might be the LEGO games’ finest hour yet, but there’s no escaping that it’s a case of building more and more and more on top of ancient foundations, rather than remaking anything from the ground up.
The structure is no danger of collapsing yet though, as a steady stream of visual ingenuity, celebration and tongue-in-cheek mockery means only the most curmudgeonly party-pooper would stop to gripe for long.