LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Preview

Title   LEGO: Marvel Super Heroes
Developer  TT Games
Publisher  Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform  Windows PC, Xbox 360 (Previewed), Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, DS, 3DS, Wii U
Genre  Action-Adventure
Release Date  October 18 (USA), November 15 (EU), at launch (Playstation 4, Xbox One)
Official Site

There’s a Fantastic Four cartoon from the seventies where Magneto shows up at a gas station. The attendant asks him if he needs any gas, and Magneto says ‘my car has no need for gas!’, before he lifts it with his mind and starts flying it through the city. That’s the only episode that car ever showed up in, but you can unlock it and drive it in LEGO: Marvel Super Heroes.”

After taking the industry by storm with LEGO: Star Wars, which somehow managed to be excellent despite focusing on the ‘new’ trilogy of Lucas’ cash cow, it seems like you can’t shake a franchise about without the Danish block-making company getting involved. From lightsabers to Batman and even Rock Band, LEGO’s been wherever it counts over the years, and there’s no sign of it stopping any time soon. This year, the blocky domination continues in LEGO: Marvel Super Heroes, with the series taking on the comic and cinematic juggernaut responsible for two of the most successful films of all time, and it promises to be the best tribute since Jack Black forgot the greatest song in the world.

When the Silver Surfer crash-lands to Earth, his surf-board splits into several ‘Cosmic Bricks’, each containing immense power, it spurs Magneto, Loki and the villains of the realm to collect them for Dr Doom’s ‘Doom Ray of Doom’. However, this also piques the interest of Marvel’s Super Heroes, who set out to acquire the bricks of power themselves at the behest of  S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury in order to put a stop to Galactus. If any of that flew over your head with super-human speed, you’re not alone, and while there’s no doubt that the story will accommodate players old and new to the Marvel Universe, it seems that those with more than a passing knowledge are going to get the most enjoyment out of the LEGO-based antics.

Further bolstering this notion is the absolutely immense roster, with over a hundred and fifty playable characters to pick and choose from. Thanks to the ridiculous amount of choice, there’s very little chance you won’t be satiated, with anyone you’d reasonably expect to be in there – The Avengers, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, anyone with a blockbuster film to their name, really – fully playable. All of their abilities are also accounted for, with Iron Man able to fly and fire missiles, repulsor and his uni-beam, while the Hulk can pick up cars, smash everything in his path, pick up pieces of the floor and transform into mild-mannered Bruce Banner at the drop of a hat (or press of a button). From there, Bruce can fit into smaller gaps and hack computers before he’s ready to transform back into the green behemoth, who stands several ‘LEGOs’ taller than the rest of the roster.

Where a great deal of the entertainment and eyebrow-raising may arise is from some of the more obscure entries on the character-selection screen. Of particular note are Squirrel Girl – whose power involves recruiting squirrels (duh) and then throwing them at her enemies before detonating them (uh?) – as well as the Silver Samurai and Viper, who were added specifically at the behest of fan-feedback. Those pre-ordering will also be able to bolster the already-burgeoning cast with Thanos and Winter Soldier, with future DLC packs including even more heroes and villains to choose from, if you’re somehow not satiated by one of the biggest rosters ever available in a game, many of whom also come with several alternative costumes or swap out the character with another version, allowing you to play as your favourite heroes from multiple continuities.

Even Stan Lee makes an appearance, but on the day they were handing out super-powers he was repeatedly sneaking back into the line with increasingly-poor disguises. The creator of some of Marvel’s most lucrative franchises is also far and away the most powerful playable character, as when he was asked what powers he wanted he simply replied “all of them”, and Traveller’s Tales apparently obliged as best they could. As a result, Stan is endowed with Wolverine’s regeneration (humorously reducing him to a moving skeleton when his health drops to zero), Spider-Man’s web-slinging, laser eyes, the Human Torch’s ability to turn into a ball of flame, flight, and is also able to Hulk out at will.

Oddities continue to abound with the selection of vehicles that players can hop into and use to explore the open-world of the Marvel LEGO take on New York, complete with its own Daily Bugle, Baxter Building, Stark Tower and X Mansion. Alongside the aforementioned Magneto car, our heroes can also ride in Tony Stark’s motor and one belonging to Captain Britain, who also finds himself as one of the many, many rostrum choices. Those iconic buildings will also be explorable, and come with their own side quests which do nothing to assist the main story, but will do plenty to have you fighting back tears of laughter.

One such tale will see Magneto unable to find his chess set in the attic of the X Mansion, only to discover that Mysterio has stolen it for his own nefarious purposes, with the entire débâcle narrated by Nolan North, reprising his role as Deadpool. The ‘Merc with a Mouth’ also imitates the voices of everyone involved in the story, so Nolan North voices Deadpool, who in turn voices Magneto and Mysterio. Apparently North’s imitation of Sir Ian McKellen was so similar at times that they had to ask him to tone it down so people didn’t believe that it was actually Sir Ian voicing the role instead. While Gandalf isn’t present in the final voice cast, there will be over thirty actors and actresses lending their vocal talents, from the aforementioned North to John DiMaggio, Steve Blum, Clark ‘Phil Coulson’ Gregg and sudden voice-acting superstar Troy Baker.

Whether you want to jump into missions or explore the world at your fingertips, you’ll start off on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier prominently featured in last year’s blockbuster hit, where all the heroes will reside, and some will have their own individual rooms. Reprising his role as the resident trickster, Deadpool will also have his own room where he can hack into the game’s code and create cheats for the player to exploit on their travels. Once you have your team ready to take to the town, you can then launch yourself off the carrier and into the city below. Choosing carefully will pay dividends as, in true LEGO game tradition, certain obstacles can only be surpassed with the correct combination of heroes, and in one instance it was clear the best choice was Captain America and his projectile shield alongside Mr Fantastic, who acts as a human skeleton-key for many of the puzzles. Thanks to his elastic form, he can be used to morph into whatever’s needed, much like a stretchy deus ex machina, whether it be a giant oversized wrench or – as I was told would happen later in the story – an air-traffic control tower. Still, he’s more useful to have around than the master illusionist Mysterio, whose powers translate into being able to turn slightly invisible for a bit.

There’ll be around fifteen ‘core’ levels, with the now-familiar LEGO gameplay all present, with no real shock additions for those used to platforming around environments, punching things until studs come out, and swapping characters around to solve puzzles. Although the core gameplay will be more than recognisable to any who has ever played a LEGO title, it honestly feels like there’s something special about this one. It’s clear from the offset that the developers are massive fans of the universe, and with nothing being considered out of bounds, whether it was from the comics, films or ill-fated cartoons, it’s absolutely packed with nods, winks and obscure trivia for true believers old and new. Some of the references might leave you completely nonplussed and give Family Guy a run for its money, but it’s clear that so much love and attention has gone into the development that the passion completely shines through and even if you can’t tell your Symbiotes from your Tesseracts, LEGO: Marvel Super Heroes is a title of infinite, exciting possibility.

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