When I watch a new Marvel movie, I usually leave the theater with excitement at what comes next and an appreciation for a company that’s able to write compelling stories without any of them ever feeling contrived or dry. Their movies are fresh, approachable and capable of reinvigorating the universe they’ve established with almost every new release. Almost ten years later with 17 movies to boot, I’m always wondering what’s next, knowing they’ve still have so much space to explore and stories to tell.
Ideally, I’d be saying the same about the third entry in a Lego Marvel video game but sadly, I can’t.
With TT Games’ newest entry in the superhero saga, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, I couldn’t help but feel this fruit no longer had any juice to squeeze out of it. That’s not necessarily to the game’s detriment–there just isn’t really anywhere left to go from here.
If you’ve played a Lego video game, you know exactly what you’re getting into, if have not do it you can play here https://legoventures.com/ . Like Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and even Lego Marvel’s Avengers, you’ll be taking on the roles of countless Marvel characters as you build, bash, smash and collect your way through settings you’ve seen on the big screen or within the pages of your favorite comic book. If your primary interest in Marvel takes place on the silver screen, many of the characters and locales will be new. Digging deep into the treasure chests of Marvel’s history, you’ll run into characters you’ve never heard of, including the game’s big bad, Kang.
Kang is a time-travelling, civilization-destroying maniac bend on conquering every city, world and universe in sight and he does so by ripping apart realities and warping time streams. He plays a much larger role than 2013’s Lego Marvel Superheroes’ Galactus making multiple appearances throughout the game’s 12 hour campaign. Kang plays out like your standard villain who wants to rule the universe and he’ll do anything he must to make it happen.
Far more interesting than Kang is the mashup metropolis he creates, known as Chronopolis, which acts as your hub as you make your way through the game’s 20 missions. While not near as fun to play around in as Lego Marvel’s Avengers’ Manhattan, Chronopolis allows for a central hub that has Asgard next door to Manhattan or Medieval England next to Wakanda. As you traverse Chronopolis with multiple Marvel team-ups, you’ll make your way through the wild west, Hydra HQ, Sakaar, Lemuria and even Ancient Egypt, among many more Marvel worlds.
As with previous Lego games, this one comes packed with plenty to do in each mission if you’re looking to stray from the beaten path. Each level has 10 hidden minikits, a Stan Lee that needs saving, a True Believer bar and one trainer/character card. If that’s not enough, after completing the story, you’re free to play through the story missions using any mish-mash of characters you want, including your customizable character creations.
With far more characters than the other Lego Marvel games–this one boasts an impressive 191–each mission can at least look fresh, although it might not feel the same. While you can trade out Iron Man and change it up with someone else, there are many characters who beyond aesthetics, might as well be the same. Trading out Iron Man for Captain Marvel is essentially changing the character models skin in that their powers are nearly identical. Still though, with 191 characters, making a team that feels fresh wasn’t too difficult, and that’s without taking each character’s skin possibilities into account. While some characters only have a few skins, others have far more, such as Iron Man who has nine different skins to obtain.
How does the game manage to bring so many characters into the fold? While a large number of them don’t find their way into the main story, you’ll still encounter and play as quite a few superheroes, and that’s in part thanks to Kang’s conquering. By using fragmented shards from various worlds, he’s able to create the mashup neighborhoods that together form Chronopolis. The story will take you through these various neighborhoods, controlling the characters found within, collecting whatever MacGuffin is presented. It’s interesting and explains the reason Captain Avalon and Star-Lord fight beside each other, but as far as brevity goes, it’s more shallow than something like the storyline we received in Lego Marvel’s Avengers.
One of the best features of a TT Lego game is the humor and sadly, this game’s jokes fall flat more often than not. I always caught the joke but rarely actually laughed. Occasionally, I snickered under my breath but for the most part, I was left cringing at a joke that failed to land. This issue is highlighted by the game’s use of one of Marvel’s funniest characters, Spider-Man, acts as one of the main protagonists, a character you’ll find yourself using quite often. While slinging through the levels, Spider-Man spits joke after joke and unlike my experiences with other Spider-Man iterations, I just couldn’t bring myself to laugh.
While many might refer to the Lego games as children’s games, or at least kid-friendly, they generally come with some challenges, especially when diving into the side content such as finding the collectibles. Usually, these challenges are welcomed and keep the game feeling fresh. Unfortunately, the challenges I found myself encountering in Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 weren’t in the Stan Lee I was trying to find or the next mini-kit on my list, but rather, simply moving forward in the level. I knew I had to open a door or smash some legos to build a trampoline but tasks like these took me ten to fifteen minutes longer than they should have because I couldn’t find what I needed to do. The legos I was looking for would be hidden behind a corner that I never sought out–I simply paced back and forth through the area until I found something I could interact with. My next step in the level always felt obnoxiously hidden or complicated, but never intuitive.
At its core, Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 is another TT Lego game. Because of that, it’s exciting and filled to the brim with characters, locales, and collectibles sure to keep any player enticed, but that also means that it’s a formula that in no way feels too fresh or too unique. Sections of the game might feel like something new, but as a whole, this game fails to go beyond what I’ve come to expect from a Lego video game.
A PS4 Review copy of Lego Marvel Superheroes was provided by TT Games for the purpose of this review.