Friday, January 17, 2014

Marvel Legends, Lego style

I’ve managed to complete my second PS4 game, and I have to admit, I am pleased as punch about this one. Lego Marvel Superheroes stands as a shining example of what a family game can do, when it sets its mind to it.

Taking place after all the Marvel movies (they are all referenced) and managing to pay homage to the comic continuity at the same time, Lego Marvel sees our heroes gathered together to square off against Loki and Dr Doom, and Dr Doom’s Doom Ray of Doom. The game takes a slightly comedic tone, never taking itself seriously at all. Each of the characters is somewhat self-satirical, especially Tony Stark/Iron Man and Dr Doom, whose over the top performance forced me to laugh on more than a few occasions. In some ways this game makes me miss the camp of the comics.

As the story progresses, the heroes learn of an even greater threat threatening to destroy the entire earth. They must set aside their differences with the villainous Magneto, Abomination, Venom, and even Dr Doom himself, to save the planet from Galactus.

The game has a mostly destructible environment which allows players to tear down the Lego constructs, then rebuild some of them to create useful tools for completing the level. The gameplay is split into two styles, an open world, Grand Theft Auto style city, where instead of beating and looting like the aforementioned GTA, you find people to help and earn gold blocks, which can be used to unlock bonus stages, secret characters, etc. The map on the game is pretty small in total scale, but it is pretty neat nonetheless. Especially since Stan Lee himself manages to keep getting himself into trouble that the heroes have to save him from. Then there are actual structured levels where the story of our heroes takes place.

And there are many heroes. I never unlocked them all in my play through. The incentives to do so are mixed. Getting to play as the Beetle is no different from playing as Iron Man. Jean Grey performs very similarly to Invisible Woman, which is shocking considering how different the two characters are. Wolverine, Sabretooth and Beast are all functionally the same. As a result I found myself playing through freeplay mode dominantly as Iron Man mark 42, Captain America, Wolverine (no surprise there), Spider-Man, Thor, Jean Grey and Magneto. Rotating between these characters will ensure that you have a character for every situation. Nobody else is needed, but the challenge of unlocking all 100 + characters is appealing, except that unlocking the character isn’t enough. Once unlocked you have to spend exorbitant amounts of in game currency, hundreds of thousands of Lego studs. The good news is that this challenge is a good one to have a friend to help you along. The two of you can split up and work together to unlock the goodies. I am hoping my brother will take on the racing quests because I am terrible at them, especially those races which require flying. This portion of the game was meant to be played multi-player.

The meat of the game, however, is the main story. You will not be able to complete everything in the main story on a single play through, you will have to play through at least twice, depending on when you decide to take on free play mode. I wish the developers had allowed for free play (the ability to switch between characters at will) through the initial play through, but the story is enjoyable enough that it doesn’t feel too tedious.

All in all, it’s quite an enjoyable game. Sometimes your character can get stuck on the scenery, and the controls for the flying characters isn’t particularly tight. Poor controls combined with jarring camera shifts make racing in this game a chore. There are also too many characters who play far too similarly to make it worth unlocking them all. Still, despite these problems, I highly recommend this game. Also, get it on the PS4, as switching between characters takes but a moment, whereas on the PS3 and Xbox 360 there is a little bit of loading. The graphics are also best on the PS4, running at full 1080p without a hitch, with vastly superior lighting than the competing consoles. Though it's art style makes it so that only the keenest eyes will notice the differences.

An 8 out of 10

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