- Format: Xbox One (version reviewed), PS4, PS3, 360, 3DS, Wii U, Vita, PC
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
- Developer: TT Fusion/TT Games
- Players: 1-2 (offline only)
- Site: http://www.lego.com/en-us/marvelsuperheroes/marvels-avengers
- Game disc provided by PR
Lego Marvel Superheroes is a tough act to follow. It’s funny, great fun to play – easily one of the best Lego games so far, in fact – and crammed full of dozens of Marvel characters, both famous and obscure. The daunting hurdle that Lego Marvel Avengers faces, therefore, is that a top-quality Marvelcentric Lego game already exists and was in fact released very recently. Where does that leave this game to go?
The answer, it turns out, is in a straight and carefully drawn line. This game grabs the Avengers license and runs with it at full speed, sticking to the Avenger movies like kragle at every opportunity. This means that the story levels tell the tale of the two films, lifting dialogue untouched straight from the scripts almost without exception. Cutscenes, too, are often Lego recreations of the exact scenes that played out on the silver screen. While gameplay necessarily takes quite a bit of artistic licence, you’ll recognisably be playing through events from the films. There are also a handful of levels based on scenes taken from the Thor and Captain America movies, as well as Iron Man 3.
It is, especially on current gen consoles, a very impressive game to watch. The graphics are smoother and more vibrant than any Lego game yet, and if you’re thinking that the voices sound very much like the original actors – that’s because they are the original actors. Not just dialogue, but the very audio itself has been carved out of the films. Some of the fights and other sequences are very well directed, too.
A good example of the above is the recreation of Hulk going beserk, tasking you with running away from him into the screen until you finally reach safety. Elsewhere, the game writers play with the fact that the dialogue has been taken from a script written in complete isolation from the game it now finds itself in. This occasionally results in the most hilarious moments since Lego City Undercover. One of our favourites (sorry to say) is when Captain America declares “They’re fish in a barrel down there!” just after we see somebody carrying, yes a barrel full of fish.
Unfortunately, despite the highlights, Lego Marvel Avengers as a whole feels somewhat… disjointed. One of its biggest problems is the determination to stick so slavishly to what happens in the films. For example, we have the odd situation where some of the original jokes fall flat, some of the original jokes (such as the fish one) are brilliant, and some of the best jokes are actually taken straight out of the movies. Much worse than that, though, is the simple fact that moments meant to be emotional or dramatic simply don’t work when they’re played out with little Lego people in a little Lego world.
What is truly unforgivable is the deeply flawed reasoning that providing an Avengers “experience” should take precedence over all else. This isn’t only apparent in dumping huge chunks of script into the game, but also in the way that some of the game isn’t… well, isn’t very fun. A perfect example, again involving Hulk, is the Hulk vs Hulkbuster fight. Aesthetically it’s great but, in terms of gameplay, it boils down to nothing more than button bashing QTEs that don’t feel at all rewarding.
It sticks unwaveringly to the Lego game template and, as such, is never in danger of sinking all the way down to ‘bad game’. There are still absolutely loads of characters to unlock, including many not present in Marvel Superheroes (bringing the total to over 200). Many characters are very well represented, especially super-fast Quicksilver who’s great fun to play as. And, again, replaying levels with new characters will give access to new pickups and secrets. While Manhattan returns, you also have access to other, smaller hub areas to explore.
But, very few of the levels are memorable enough to urge you on to return in the first place. Hub missions rarely deviate from fetch quests or ‘beat up all these guys’, and the random crimes element is as repetitive as it is uninspiring. Combat itself is arguably worse than before. Each character has an instakill move for minor enemies, but this move takes 3-5 seconds to play out each time, and is accompanied by the same one or two bland quotes from the films. The team moves can be useful for clearing a tight group of enemies, but there seems no rhyme nor reason to where or why you can activate these.
Avengers would have worked much, much better as an expansion to Superheroes. As it stands it’s a bloated version of what it should be, and is therefore a distinct downgrade from the 2013 game. If you’re a total Avengers nut and/or you’re absolutely desperate for a new Lego game, then yes, you’ll get a lot of fun from this. Anybody else, you’ll be better off playing or replaying Lego Marvel Superheroes instead.