Prior to 2013, developer TT Games had already worked on a huge number of licenses as part of their incredibly fun and addictive Lego series of games: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Caped Crusader, Batman. Being owned by publisher WB Games, who in turn are owned by parent company Time Warner who also own Warner Bros. films and DC Comics, one license you would have never expected TT Games to work on was Marvel. Yet in early 2013 via a Game Informer cover story, the announcement came that WB Games and TT Games were seemingly doing the impossible and creating a Lego Marvel game aptly titled Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Released in the fall of that same year, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is easily one of, if not the best game in the insanely successful Lego series and a love letter to Marvel comics fans both young and old.
When Loki teams up with Doctor Doom to harness the power of the planet devouring Galactus and the all-powerful cosmic bricks, every hero and team in the Marvel universe from Spider-Man to the Avengers as well as the Fantastic Four and the X-Men must come together to stop them. With a cast of well over a hundred characters cribbed from every corner of the Marvel universe, it’s amazing that TT Games managed to pay the proper respect to the roster they selected yet they do it almost with ease. You can swing through the air on web lines as Spider-Man; don countless armors as Iron Man and soar through the air; contort to weird shapes as Mr. Fantastic; summon lightning storms as the mighty Thor and use Captain America’s indestructible shield all in the service of the game’s environments and puzzles. Even characters like Black Widow and Hawkeye that have no super powers are invaluable as they use their natural abilities to sneak through areas undetected or make platforms for characters to use with trick arrows. These are just the characters that show up during the story. I could spend paragraphs talking about the dozens of characters that can be unlocked in the open world portion of the game. My favourite among the bunch is the side quest to unlock Drax the Destroyer from the Guardians of the Galaxy who wishes to become a world-famous “Drax-o-phonist”. This might seem like a silly mission to some, but when you realize that Drax’s alter ego, Arthur Douglas, was a saxophonist in a past life, it really shows that TT Games did their homework.
The love just isn’t limited to the characters of the Marvel universe, but to the locations you visit as well. In the fifteen mission campaign you’ll visit Stark Tower, the Baxter Building, Doctor Doom’s home country of Latveria, the X-Mansion and even the realm eternal, Asgard. Upon completion of the story even more missions are unlocked as you scour New York City for Gold bricks, think the Lego games version of power stars from the 3-D Mario games, where you can take part in Red brick missions to attain cheats from the Merc with the Mouth himself, Deadpool. In these you’ll visit even more famous locales like the Daily Bugle and Dr. Strange’s sanctum sanctorum. The open world itself is also crafted with loving detail as you pass by landmarks like Avengers tower and Horizon Labs, a relatively new addition to Marvel canon found in the pages of Dan Slott’s run on the Amazing Spider-Man. Exploring the world never gets old as well as you laugh at the dialogue spouted by the non-super powered citizens of the world who can’t seem to get the names of the heroes right like “Wolf Marine”. These people are also totally okay with you stealing their vehicles, as they understand it’s for important super hero business.
Attention to detail only takes you so far though if a game isn’t fun to play, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes is indeed a joy to play. It follows the Lego formula established all the way back in the Lego Star Wars games yet somehow manages to feel fresh and new as you experiment with your available roster of heroes and villains to solve puzzles by constructing things from smashed Lego bricks found in the environment and also using your available move set. One moment you’ll be using Captain America’s shield to open a grate for Mr. Fantastic to squeeze through, while the next you’ll use Cyclop’s optic blast to open a door that was previously sealed in solid gold after you use Storm’s elemental abilities to power up a machine or door.
For a game that is intended for all ages, there’s countless hours of gameplay to be found for even the most veteran game player. Beating the story alone can take anywhere between eight-to-ten hours, but when you factor in Red brick missions, unlockable characters and hunting down every last Gold brick to be found, you’re looking at well over thirty hours of game time. You’ll find yourself saying “just one more mission” or “I’ll do one more race and then turn if off” after you realize that hours have passed.
If I had to say anything remotely negative about Lego Marvel Super Heroes, it would be about some of the controls, mainly when flying. A lot of the races to unlock Gold bricks find you flying through rings in the air and it becomes really easy to plummet to the ground when you mean to descend just a little bit or miss a turn when you’re in a hurry. Eventually though you get used to these controls, but the learning curve can be a bit steep and frustrating. This is a small part of the game though, and it doesn’t drag down what is an overall terrific game.
If you consider yourself even a casual fan of video games and Marvel super heroes, you owe it to yourself to have Lego Marvel Super Heroes in your collection. It is available on every platform out there and I guarantee you now it won’t set you back much. Even when it was new at full price it was still worth every penny of its asking price. With a great campaign and countless hours of post-game content to hunt down, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is a game you’ll fall in love with because of how much the developers clearly love the source material that will keep you coming back for dozens of hours of gameplay that I guarantee will put a smile on your face. I can’t wait to see what TT Games does in a just a few short weeks with their follow-up Lego Marvel’s the Avengers.