In 2013, Traveller’s Tales brought us LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. That title was a pleasant surprise both in terms of it being a great game, and also for the fact that most of us assumed that a Marvel title from a Warner Brothers company would never happen. All the stars aligned, however, and TT Games gave us a crazy and hilarious original story combining all the classic LEGO elements mixed with a dizzying array of Marvel characters both well-known and obscure. Lightning has now struck twice in the form of LEGO Marvel Avengers, and while it doesn’t quite reach the hilarious heights of its Marvel predecessor, it’s still a great game in its own right and one of the stronger LEGO titles in recent memory.
The biggest difference between this game and TT Games’ first Marvel title is that the entire gameplay experience takes place within the current Marvel cinematic universe. While the first game had an original story, this game takes all of its cues from movies such as both Avengers films, Iron Man 3, Captain America 1 & 2, Thor: The Dark World, and a handful of others. As far as licensed games go, the LEGO titles are head and shoulders above any other options out there. I did, however, find myself missing the zany, over the top story from the first Marvel game. Playing through movie scenes that I know so well is plenty of fun, but I kept wishing it would go off the rails a little more. That being said though, I have always loved TT Games’ take on the licenses that they are adapting and I was left consistently smiling my during my entire playthrough.
The story starts off with a resounding bang as you play through the opening battle from Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s a great way to show off the wide variety of character types you can play with and it shows off the kinds of puzzles and combat situations you will be faced with. After that opening scene though, the story jumps around a bit. You find yourself jumping back and forth between Captain America WW2 scenes and scenes from the original Avengers film. I am quite familiar with the source material so I never felt particularly lost, but I couldn’t help but think that someone who hasn’t seen these movies 400 times apiece might feel confused with all the jumping around. However, great story telling has never been the hallmark or the draw of a LEGO game. People play these games for hilarious scenes, clever writing, and the ever-present addiction of smashing objects and collecting studs. This game includes all of that and then some.
After being put through your paces in the main game, you are encouraged to get out into the hub worlds and track down all of the unlockables. This is where LEGO Avengers really shines as there are an impressive number of worlds to travel to and plenty of amusing side quests to complete, comics to track down, red bricks to unlock, and tons more. Manhattan still serves as the main hub world with most of the gold bricks and side missions found within. There are a handful of other mini-hubs to explore though such as Washington D.C., Asgard, Tony Stark’s House in Malibu, and more. Between all of that and the constant allure to replay levels to find all the secrets and collectibles, there is a whole lot to do in this game and all of it is fun.
There are a few steps taken back here when compared to the original Marvel game though. The map, which was so helpful last time, has been taken away for some inexplicable reason. I used the map in LEGO Marvel Superheroes on a very consistent basis to find collectibles and track objectives. That is not an option at all this time around. Pressing the touch pad on the PS4 controller now brings up the option to go into space, which is a fancy way of saying “level selector”. This option is also found in the pause menu and there is also a level selector on the S.H.I.E.L.D. hellicarrier, so why the map had to be stripped away for an option that is available in at least two other places is a mystery to me. There is a minimap that gives you a sense of direction, but it is a sub-par option. The character selection is also a little bit of a letdown. While there is still an impressive amount of well-loved characters, a lot of Marvel staples have been done away with in favor of characters who fit more into the MCU. There are no X-Men, there is no Spider-Man, there’s no Punisher, Ghost Rider, Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic 4, etc. It seems silly to complain about what isn’t there when there’s such a large amount of options available, but I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of longing for some of the missing characters. If you’re a fan of Stan Lee though, you’re going to be happy. That old man is all over the place in this game.
LEGO Marvel Avengers is a bit of a step back when compared to the first LEGO Marvel title, but on its own merits it is a fantastic experience with laughs every few minutes, addicting gameplay, and tons of replay value. If you have even a passing interest in Marvel, LEGO, or just fun games in general, do yourself a favor and give this one a chance.
A PS4 code for LEGO Marvel Avengers was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive for the purpose of this review.
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