Apr 9, 2014

[Games] LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (PS3)

I've been a big fan of the different LEGO games as evidenced by my game purchases over the years. And as much as the games are highly formulaic and perhaps even repetitive for some, they're also lovely puzzle platformers. And with the many different franchise deals that LEGO has struck with other brands, this has certainly resulted in some pretty interesting games as a result.

Hot on the heels of LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes, we have Marvel stepping up to the LEGO plate to see what success they could have in the game genre. And I have to admit, the result is pretty impressive and a celebration of more than just the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters.

And while it's hard to pick any one LEGO game as some sort of a "favorite" or something like that, but LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is definitely a pretty solid game that was a lot of fun to play through and perhaps a contender for that title.

And even though I've already finished the primary story stages, I'm still playing through the game in an attempt to get myself up to 100%. But that's LEGO games for you.

Synopsis: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is an action-adventure game developed by TT Games and released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game was released across a wide variety of platforms, but this review reflects the PS3 version of the game.

The game puts you in control of up to 150 Marvel heroes and villains as you go through an action-packed adventure set in the Marvel Universe. The story begins with the Silver Surfer being dispatched to find his master Galactus a new world to consume. His wandering brings him to Earth where he gets knocked out of the sky by the nefarious Doctor Doom. His surfboard is destroyed in the process and breaks down into various black "cosmic bricks" that are scattered all over New York.

Doom's plan is to gather the cosmic bricks and create his "Doom Ray of Doom" - and to this end he enlists the aid of various super villains to retrieve the different pieces. On the flip side, the various heroes start to encounter these villains rampaging around New York City and they start to work together to defeat them and retrieve the bricks. As the story progresses, we end up with missions involving a wide variety of heroes from different Marvel super hero teams including the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.

Like other recent LEGO game releases, this video game jaunt includes actual dialog for the different LEGO characters. And while most characters are handled a variety of experienced voice talents (including the likes of John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, and of course Tara Strong) it also features the distinct vocal contributions of Clark Gregg (reprising his role as Agent Phil Coulson) but also the one and only Stan Lee pretty much as himself. And while a part of me was initially weirded out by the fact that they had added voices to these games, I have to admit that the end result has been pretty great for this game.

Visually, the game is oddly shiny. And while I love that for some of the big beauty shots of things like the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and such, I don't think all the different Marvel characters also needed to be super shiny. LEGO is an amazing product on its own and I don't think every single cut scene needs to feature minifigs in glamour shots or something. It was cute in the opening sequence, but a little unnecessary in pretty much every single cut scene.

But beyond that, the game plays out like most of the other LEGO games with minor tweaks. First, I felt they really went to town with really mixing and matching powers to each hero is capable of addressing 2-3 different types of puzzles on their own. For example, Hulk is a giant minifig with super strength, so he can handle challenges marked with the glowing green bars. But he can also revert back into his Bruce Banner alternate persona so he can solve intelligence/computer puzzles. Iron Man's default armor at the start allows him to fly and can launch rockets that destroy shiny silver objects.

The story challenges are nicely complex and feature a wide variety of super villains and their signature caper styles with a surprising number of minions. Sandman summons up an army of sand creatures to fight the heroes while Doctor Octopus has a little army of octopus robots. It's a fun way to introduce hordes of enemies to fight.

The signature humor of the series is not at all lost and you'll still have characters doing silly things amid battles and relatively serious cut scenes. And things are given that extra push with the fact that the old Student/Citzen in Peril object has been replaced by Stan Lee in Peril. Thus you are guaranteed a Stan Lee cameo in every single stage of the game - including the bonus ones!

One of the biggest wow factors of the game is the decision to use pretty much the entire city of New York as the games central hub. And while the more specific functions for replaying stages and unlocking red bricks has been centralized at the Helicarrier, the entire city of New York is littered with gold brick missions, challenges tied to character cards and all that good stuff. IT's a really big map and I'm glad that they've continued to use the little ghost-style guide to help you find your next objective. And there are quite a number of easter eggs for all you fans of the Marvel universe.

The game is still a consistently fun experience and I look forward to trying to unlock the other 70+% of the game's achievements that are found outside the primary story mode. That may seem like a unique kind of torture, but I'm still looking forward to the experience, quite frankly. The only challenges that I really suck at are the vehicle challenges, but I think I'll get better in time with sufficient practice.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes follows the familiar LEGO game formula but continues to innovate things to keep things fresh and interesting. And the way that they brought the Marvel characters to life was sheer genius and consistent with the core brand as well. Thus I'm enough of a geek to rate this game as 4.5 surprise characters hidden within the game out of a possible 5.

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