Friday, 29 January 2016

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers Review

Version reviewed: Playstation 4

TT Games are back with the latest entry in the LEGO video game series, released today in the UK. This is only the second game based on the Marvel universe, this time based on the cinematic world of the Avengers and the surrounding movies. There’s still room for comic book goodness, but this time players will recognise locations and storylines from different Marvel movies. 

Read on for the All About Bricks review…

Captain America and Iron Man

There is no need for players to worry about having to go through slow-paced training levels to acclimatise to LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. Just like Avengers: Age of Ultron, the game starts in the thick of an assault on the Hydra base where Loki’s sceptre is being hidden. In a series of battles, players take on the role of each Avenger in turn, allowing the opportunity to learn the unique abilities each character has.
The Quinjet

The core characters are varied and fun – Black Widow packs dual guns and can disappear. Doing a Hulk smash with the big fig is immensely satisfying. Captain America’s shield sails into bad guys with style, or conveniently unlocks switches. Flying around as Iron Man is great fun, he can melt selected objects. Hawkeye uses explosives and rapid-fire arrows. Seeing Thor bash enemies or hurl his hammer into them is a treat. To be more concise, each character is a different joy to play as – seeing their inventive ways of dispatching villains brings a special kind of amused satisfaction (the best are the combo moves that two characters employ together).

Once the initial level is complete, the game flashbacks within a flashback as Captain
Cap and Bucky infiltrate a Hydra base
America and Bucky Barnes face off against Hydra. This game is not an adaptation of Avengers: Age of Ultron, but a re-telling of that movie with key scenes from The Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man 3 and more. Free downloadable content has been promised featuring content from Ant Man and this Summer’s Captain America: Civil War. Considering the number of Marvel movies to date, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers does a good job of including a fair selection of them.

The SHIELD Helicarrier
The gameplay follows the tried and tested formula that has gradually improved over the decade of LEGO video games from Traveller’s Tales, with players using logic and the various character abilities to solve puzzles, before doing battle with hordes of enemies and the occasional boss. The puzzles are particularly interesting in this game as they often involve aiding other characters – for example Black Widow and Dr Banner must help the crew of the Shield Helicarrier prepare for the arrival of the Quinjet. Not only does this represent heroes as having more to do than defeat enemies, it changes things up from just having to open a door to the next area.

Sibling rivalry from Thor and Loki
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers offers much of what has gone before in terms of gameplay, but that is no bad thing. Much like the LEGO brick itself, why fix what isn’t broken? These games work so well because rather than radically overhaul the tried and tested formula, they gradually improve on what worked last time and what is relevant for the IP. But for all of the positives this brings, it also means that the same old faults crop up – frustrating split screen and some awful camera angles.

In game puzzles lead to new areas.
As usual, story-based levels can later be repeated in Free Play mode to track down all of the different collectables. The usual gold bricks are acquired for each achievement, one of which is now rescuing Stan Lee during each level (usually in Free Play mode later). Stan Lee is so over-referenced and over-cameoed at this point that this seems terribly shoe horned in. The minifigure Lee even asks at one point when he stops being a cameo and becomes the star – which is exactly the problem.

There is plenty of exploring to do in New York.
As if the replayability that Free Play provides isn’t good enough at sucking the player in, a number of open world areas are ripe for exploration with mini-missions to be completed in any order. Travelling around New York (the largest hub) by foot or in a car, encountering new characters and challenges along the way gives players another way to immerse themselves in the LEGO Marvel world. The city in particular feels alive thanks to being so well populated, as minifigures wander by and wave at the titular heroes (even if they have just blown up a car!).

Nicky Fury is too preoccupied to notice classic LEGO Space.
Plenty of obscure Marvel characters pop up or are unlocked, many from the movies but plenty from comic book sources too – with over 200 to be found, no wonder the original source material had to be mined! Many of the discoverable characters have a knowing humour in their introductions. As well as Marvel in-jokes, some nice LEGO references are included such as the classic LEGO Space logo at the SHIELD Base. The typical humour, often riffing on the source material, is present throughout – Nick Fury’s penchant for strawberry milkshake is a great early gag.

God of thunder
The game looks incredible, even better than LEGO Dimensions. The atmospheric settings have clearly been painstakingly created, with realistic looking backdrops for the brick built elements dropped into them. Reflections, weather, depth – the game looks better than any LEGO video game has any need to. The soundtrack also adds to capturing the feel of the movies, with authentic sound effects and dialogue. Unfortunately the dialogue does get lost in the sound mix regularly.

Classic LEGO video game humour
Fans of LEGO and Marvel had plenty of evidence to go on before checking out reviews of LEGO Marvel’s Avengers – it would have been a bigger surprise if TT Games had suddenly dropped the ball. Once again a fun, playable, expansive game has been delivered that offers story-based play, open world exploration and collectible seeking replayability. The only downside to having such a lot to do is fitting it all in before it’s time for the next LEGO video game… 

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