Preview: A hands-off look at LEGO Marvel Super Heroes promises a game that’s compelling for children and the young at heart.
LEGO games have become a little stale over the years, with what started out as a cutesy series filled with exploration and construction that eventually shifted sideways into something whose formula was difficult to evolve upon. Considering there are more LEGO games than Call of Duty games, it’s important for ongoing developer Traveller’s Tales Games to throw in some new ingredients to keep the recipe fresh as the franchise moves forward.
This is where LEGO Marvel Super Heroes steps in to offer plenty of what’s familiar, but with some interesting twists that actually make it look like it’s well worth checking out, even for those that may feel that they’ve seen all that LEGO games have on offer. The biggest selling point of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is, of course, the ties to the Marvel universe, with the promise that players will be able to control more than 100 characters, which is one hell of an impressive roster.
What wouldn’t be impressive was if those 100 characters were clones of each other, which thankfully isn’t the case in Marvel Super Heroes. Our hands-off demo started off strong with a New York City locale, as the presenter alternated between controlling both Iron Man and Hulk to show what the game had on offer. Spider-Man villain Sandman had taken over Grand Central Station with the help of Hulk baddy Abomination, and it was up to the superhero duo to step up and save the day.
From the outset, it was immediately noticeable that Traveller’s Tales had gone out of its way to separate hero powers and abilities in meaningful ways. Hulk can switch from towering green menace to Bruce Banner in order to interact with different items, while the ‘Other Guy’ is also useful for smashing his way from A to B and has his own unique world items that only he can interact with. Most of all, though, Hulk seem extremely well suited to smashing everything, dealing huge amounts of damage and is particularly apt at taking down groups of sand-foes.
Iron Man, on the other hand, is a completely different character in terms of his attributes. He can fly, use his hand repulsors to take down foes at a distance and even deploy longer-range shoulder-mounted missiles for impressive splash damage. Even from very early on in the demo, it’s necessary for the player to teleport between Iron Man and Hulk to solve various simplistic puzzles and get inside the station after a quick-time-event showdown with Abomination.
Once inside “Sand Central Station” (their pun, not ours), the fight continued and progressed to a tiered boss fight against the ever-growing Sandman. Unlike LEGO games of old, the more recent trend of voice acting over mumbled gibberish comes into play here, which allows Traveller’s Tales to deliver plenty of puns: some of which hit, and others which make you cringe. What was spot on in terms of audio, though, was the abundance of familiar sounds from the recent Marvel films.
As things moved back outside, Spider-Man joined the duo, and he too played differently to the others. Spider-Man has a variety of web attacks, and can also web-sling around the world, regardless of whether there are any solid objects above him. The promise of an open-world New York component for the game means that characters like Spider-Man and Iron Man will be very useful for speedy traversal.
The entry of Spider-Man also signalled the start of teamwork, as Spidey created a web rope to an otherwise inaccessible height that Bruce Banner scaled only to transform into Hulk to solve a problem that only the green monstrosity could crack. If each character does bring their own unique skills to the table, it will be interesting to see how far the potential for puzzling is taken with such a big roster.
As we can be counted among those who’ve strayed from LEGO titles in more recent years, it’s refreshing to see changes to the formula that really seem to make a big difference for the potential of what Marvel Super Heroes can offer. We’re looking forward to taking this one for a spin and we’d wager that at least a few fellow young-at-hearters should feel the same way too.