LEGO Marvel Super Heroes review: Almost as good as a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist
Take away the Marvel characters, and what is LEGO Marvel Super Heroes? Just another LEGO game. Luckily, it has a stable of over 100 Marvel characters. Characters from the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-man – you name it – team up in a LEGO game with so much star power you'll want to put on Cyclops' shades.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes begins with the Silver Surfer crashing into Earth. From there, you embark on a globe-trotting journey as you attempt to recover pieces of his flying board (dark, sparkly cubes) to stop Galactus before villains like Dr. Doom hunt down the pieces for their own use. That's why every hero comes together, little by little, to save the world.
From the first level where you play as Iron Man and The Hulk, you get a feel for the epic scale of the fights. You're going up against Sandman who isn't exactly the most exciting villain to battle. Still there's a cinematic quality to the fights. The Hulk and Iron Man – actually, all the Avengers – are based on the movie versions more than their comic book counterparts. The Hulk will do that signature move from The Avengers movie where he grabs someone by the leg and bashes him multiple times on the ground, and the way he throws larger pieces of rubble or enemies feels very familiar.
Combat is smooth and you jump from enemy to enemy with ease. It comes down to simple button mashing, but you'll never get sick of watching these super heroes fight off baddies. No matter how many times you see them, iconic moves from these heroes never become boring to watch. The visuals help, as this is one of the nicest looking games I've played on the Wii U, and a gorgeous game in general. The voice-acting is also pretty damn good. While it's not as awesome as having Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr. lending their talents, there are some excellent sound-alikes doing the work, as well as some big names: Troy Baker, Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Phil LaMarr, Tara Strong and Nolan North. Like every LEGO game, you're going to get a good dose of humor and pop culture references. Oh, and tons of Stan Lee. Tons.
While combat is what you might come for, you'll stay for the puzzles. Every character has specific skills and powers that will allow them to access or interact with different environmental pieces, so there's some really good variation to what characters you can use to complete each puzzle. I was never stumped as to what I should be doing next – let's not forget that this is a kid's game – but there were some moments where I had to stop and think or look around a little. Each level features a bit of exploration, which will reward you handsomely with more collectibles and bricks. It's a cycle of fighting bad guys, solving the puzzles you can on your first playthrough, beating bosses, getting bricks, and then using your bricks to buy new heroes for free play mode, where you are then able to complete even more puzzles to get more bricks, characters, and so on. The thing is, it never gets boring. This is the cycle of the game, and it works so well because you are rewarded constantly with more bricks, collectibles and heroes. It's kind of like Pokemon – you want to catch them all.
The highlight of the game is the HUB world in-between missions. You'll roam around a Marvel version of New York City that has a variety of collectibles for you to find, as well as races, puzzles and challenges for you to partake in. I actually had to remind myself to get back to playing the story – that's how much fun I was having. You can explore Professor Xavier's mansion, the Statue of Liberty and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, which is really fun to jump off of. Think of this as LEGO City Undercover's open-world, but not quite as big. Still, like in LEGO City, time escapes you as you uncover everything hidden in Manhattan and rise to its challenges.
Even with all of these positives, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn't without its faults. It's pretty common to get caught on pieces of the environment, which can be frustrating, especially for younger gamers. Also, the camera is very unforgiving. It uses an adjusting diagonal split-screen which changes as characters move around. Sometimes it gets hard to see what you're doing, and the camera often gets in the way. Trying to aim and shoot something gets a lot more difficult when your aim can't reach something you had in sight a second ago because your partner keeps running around. Although the puzzles are great, they're really nothing you haven't done before in other LEGO games.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is the best Marvel game I've ever played. There's been so many bad ones since Marvel Ultimate Alliance that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes feels like a breath of fresh air. The strengths of the game – namely the awesome open-world HUB, graphics, animations and story – completely outweigh any shortcomings. If the camera wasn't so inconsistent and it wasn't so easy to get caught on the environment (both problems when playing with a young child), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes would almost be perfect. Still, it's an amazing game and a must-buy for any Marvel or LEGO fan.