After 2013’s incredible Marvel Super Heroes, I was excited to get my hands on the latest instalment, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. Unfortunately, the game’s not quite as ‘marvel-ous’ as its predecessor.
The game follows the plot of the first two Avengers films, with Captain America, Captain America Winter Soldier, Iron Man 3 and Thor: Dark World mixed in for good measure. As you’d expect, this gives Traveller’s Tales a lot of scope for levels but also leads to some rather questionable level choices.
I don’t think anyone’s ever fantasised about taking a trip to Steve Rogers gym (outside of fan fiction), especially when it’s inter-cut with odd flashbacks to World War II which could have worked in a more serious game, but just felt out of place here.
The developers also continued their recent trend of using movie dialogue in the game, which sounds like a good idea on paper, but the delivery of the lines clashes with the stiff character models, making the game sound and look awkward. Even worse, it’s super jarring when you run into a character not voiced by their movie counterpart – I’m looking at you Pepper Potts!
The choice to use movie dialogue also leads to characters repeating the same lines over and over again, until the only solution is to mute your TV or put your fist through it. Either one will work.
That said, the additional voice work by Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), and even Stan ‘the man’ Lee is a nice touch.
The choice to use lines from the movies also dilutes one of the LEGO game’s biggest strengths – their sense of humour. When Traveller’s Tales produced their last Marvel LEGO game they were free to craft their own story and seed their own silly jokes throughout, which really added to the game’s charm. Unfortunately, because this time they’re following the movies and are stuck using character dialogue their options are limited, making the game less funny.
Now, that’s not to say there are no jokes in the game and it’s still very funny, which is a testament to how good the writers over at Traveller’s Tales are – one of the funniest moments in the game is a LEGO version of The Hulk’s recruitment which involves one too many SHIELD spies – it’s just a shame the game’s plot railroads it into being a bit more serious than we may have expected.
If you’ve ever played a LEGO game before then the basic controls and gameplay are going to be pretty familiar to you, and if you haven’t, don’t worry, because the game is super simple – although there are some cool new mechanics, including team combos which are simple quick time events that lead to pure LEGO chaos.
Another great addition is the ability to counter opponents. In previous LEGO games, the combat has been pretty simple – all you had to do was mash the D-pad with your palm until all the enemies were gone. Now, however, the game forces you to try that little harder with the addition of enemies that are invulnerable to damage unless you use your specific counter against them – adding a new level of difficulty to the game.
LEGO games have always been wonderful co-op experiences and for the most part LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is no different. But, because this game so strictly follows the movies, there are a couple of levels where player two is as useful as Hawkeye would be in real life – seriously, his power is ‘archery’.
For example, while fighting Thor as Iron Man, my poor friend was stuck watching me perform a quick time event while he stood on the side-lines, as useless as Steve Rogers before he took the super soldier serum. It was disappointing and it really felt like the developers dropped the ball by sticking to the films plot quite so much.
Where LEGO Marvel’s Avengers excels, however, is where all LEGO games excel, in fan service. If you’re a fan of the Marvel universe, including the TV series and comics, then there’s an awful lot here you’ll like.
This isn’t just limited to characters, it also includes jokes and references that will leave the vast majority of casual fans scratching their heads while Marvel zombies guffaw at a well-timed Ms Marvel reference. Unfortunately, fan service can only get you so far.
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is ultimately a fun but flawed game. If you’re a fan of the Marvel universe and have enjoyed previous LEGO games then you’ll probably enjoy this, and it’s packed with things to do including hidden side missions, collecting characters and rescuing Stan Lee.
However, if you haven’t played a LEGO game before and you’re thinking about picking this up, I’d recommend buying the far stronger Marvel Super Heroes.