TT Games’ LEGO videogames have been the recipient of constant praise since their debut with LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game back in 2005. A constant stream of annual releases (occasionally two per year) hasn’t seen the formula dull as, while the core experience may remain largely the same, each and every new edition has added new mechanics and impressive design built around its host franchise. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings have all been given the LEGO videogame treatment, as have DC comic book characters, so perhaps it was inevitable that Marvel’s cavalcade of superheroes and evil doers would eventually get their own outing.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes arrives on good form. The videogame retains all of the now familiar aspects of the LEGO videogames, including the stud collecting, brick collecting character collecting of previous titles. The levels including plenty of breakable virtual Lego renditions of familiar objects and a pleasingly camp take on classic Marvel characters. Of course, it’s when the two combine to make unique challenges that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes really shines.
The videogame is designed for two players to play side-by-side, but when only one player is available it’s still an enjoyable enough experience. Character switching is present either way, but when playing with a friend you’ve got two minds working together to solve the many puzzles LEGO Marvel Super Heroes throws at you. Rarely are the puzzles complicated, but often they involves scouring the area to find that one breakable block or buildable set that you’ve missed. And often, despite their simplicity, the feeling if reward upon completion remains one of the most satisfying experiences in videogames to date.
TT Games are obviously aware that this is where their strengths lie and are certainly making the most of it. The level completion screen is one of the most simple presentations you’re likely to come across in videogame design, and yet it hides some of the most shrewd understanding of an audience at the same time. The sequence runs through the amount of studs collected and then each unique challenge – hidden items, collections and objectives etc. – before dolling out the rewards, however at no point does it say that you’ve failed. Should you have missed an objective or fallen short of a collectable challenge it’ll simply skip past that bit. You know that you’ve missed the opportunity and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn’t going to punish you any further for it; simply comeback and try again later.
Of course, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes rarely punishes the player at all. Lives are infinite and the loss of studs upon death has been significantly reduced. This is a videogame that’s been created with the intention of being accessible to anyone, regardless of their prior experience with videogames or the Marvel characters. It’s about idle escapism; an evening playing an inoffensive videogame with your grandmother, or your young child’s first taste of a virtual world. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.
Available for a multitude of formats, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is hardly pushing the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, let alone the new console generation hardware. Nevertheless, its presentation is of a high quality throughout. The familiar Lego representation of real world objects is charming as ever and the backdrops are vastly more detailed than they have been previously. The voice acting is of a surprisingly high calibre and the soundtrack, though a little ‘gamey’ at times is a welcome accompaniment. The only real technical flaw is in that if the split-screen mode: though a welcome edition as it is, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes’ insistence on panning in relation to the players’ movement through the world can be disorientating, especially to newcomers. It’s easy to see what TT Games were hoping to achieve with this design – and a commendable effort in doing so – but it’s hard to suggest that they’ve achieved anything more than adding a barrier for inexperienced gamers.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a fine videogame, no matter which home console format you choose to purchase it for. It’s designed to appeal to all kinds of gamers, across all ages and experience levels, and it’s just that which it accomplishes. It’s not a videogame that will be used to showcase the power of the new generation consoles nor is it going to be as memorable as many of the other titles to launch this winter, but in its own right LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a hugely enjoyable experience.