Lego: Marvel Super Heroes (MSH) joins the legion of Lego movie-based titles released over the years and undoubtedly offers the best of past game mechanics, expanding on its replayability and unlockables.
While the plot of past movie-based versions is able to be conveyed through Lego’s trademark mimes, MSH chose the right path to incorporate voice work to aptly portray the multiple personality and wit of its superheroes.
The game starts off with a few controllable superheroes and after some basic hand-holding, players are left to explore on their own. The plot is to foil Doctor Doom’s plan and this leads to various locations and situations. Midway, you will gain access to the Helicarrier, as seen in The Avengers movie, and a rendition of New York City available for free-roam with side missions.
As you progress through the plot, access to more superheroes becomes available, but while completing each episode grants you access to the new super-friends, a handful is only unlocked through completion of certain objectives. But this is the least of worries, as compiled Lego studs through playing through consolidates into an in-game currency, allowing you to purchase unveiled characters. No real money is involved. The completist behavior in you (and those who have played Lego videogame titles) would know that the key in such games is to smash as many Lego structures as you can to collect Lego studs. Gameplay soon becomes a conscious effort of smashing Lego structures along the way with an aim to score a full 100% of collected studs in each episode, as this allows you to replay the completed stage at your own pace and also swap the active team with other unlocked characters from the roster. However, you will eventually notice that while there are many superheroes to summon, the abilities are somewhat preset into a few categories. This is done to fit the puzzle requirements of the map. Granted, while Spider-man and Venom have similar functions within the game, they each have distinct look and animation. Seasoned players would know that in any given stage/episode, there are many alternate paths and side quests, thus providing an incentive to replay them with different team of characters.
The joy of playing Lego SMH is uncovering the new superheroes as you progress and seeing how their look and animation are translated in the Lego world. For example, Hulk has the familiar swing-slam animation which he carried out to Loki in the movie Avengers. Tony Stark’s Mark V flying armour collaboration somewhat reflects the one you see in Iron Man 3. Thor has his trademark spinning Hammer animation as he takes off, while Wolverine has a distinct throw-slice animation that you would have seen in his movie. These are the little touches that make the game great.
As always, there is no online multiplayer and the game is playable in two-player local coop. This means that someone is the same room can join in to wreak havoc with you. Alas, instead of a fixed camera view, the developer adopted a rotating camera view which we feel is confusing and concentrating-straining. Some players may be able to adapt to it, but if you’re a parent juggling multiple tasks at the same time, you may not be able to focus on your character. Most of the time you will probably be wondering where your superhero is. If you’re introducing this game to a young person, I would recommend playing a couple of stages on your own first and then guide him/her through. Once he/she is able to grasp the concept, you can then sit back and watch as they discover their way around.
Lego SMH makes a perfect gift for Christmas or birthdays. Available on Xbox360 (reviewed), PS3, PC and possibly on next-gen consoles.