Let me preface that I am like the biggest Marvel fan. So I was super excited to play this. I was able to do a full runthrough with a buddy in couch co-op and I spent a decent amount of time playing on my own as well, mostly attempting sidequests. So, is this Lego version of my favorite heroes able to live up to my expectations?
Intergalactic threat Galactus has sent his Silver Surfer to seek out delicious planets for him to eat but when the Surfer gets to Earth, his board is destroyed and sends magic bricks all over the world. Doctor Doom goes on a quest to retrieve them, along with Loki, the Green Goblin, Venom, and other notable villains from the Marvel universe. To stop them, the Avengers team up with the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and other heroes, including Spiderman. You play as a team of 2-4 heroes who each bring unique skills to the table and you work to solve environment puzzles to stop these villains. For instance, the Human Torch might melt ice which reveals levers you need to push. Or maybe the Hulk (or another large hero) is required to destroy a big wall in your way. The game is mostly puzzles, mixed in with some skirmishes with low level grunts. You can either play with a friend or you can play solo and just rotate through which character you’re controlling.
There is a lot of love given to the Marvel world here, as you can end up controlling ~150 different Marvel heroes. Potentially. The world is really cool and it’s great to see team-ups that we won’t see in live-action form anytime soon, mostly due to film rights. So seeing Spider-Man, Thor, and Mr. Fantastic face off against a foe is really cool. The game is pretty easy to control, as characters really only have a few attacks and then a button to jump/fly and to activate objects.
Visually, the game also looks really cool. Seeing Spider-Man swing around on Lego web is really interesting. The city of New York is vast and has a lot of detail to it, including vehicles that you can drive around town. The voice acting is solid, though it’s obvious that some voices are trying to replicate the live-action stars who actually portray them (most obviously is Iron Man, who tries really hard to sound like Robert Downey Jr but doesn’t get that close at all).
What doesn’t work?
Sadly, a lot. Maybe my expectations were high. I’ve also never played a Lego game, so maybe I had overestimated what my experience would be like.
On a game-breaking level, there were a lot of glitches. In one boss battle, Mr. Fantastic somehow glitched into the Hulk, meaning we had two Hulks on screen. This meant that we weren’t able to use Mr. Fantastic’s powers to defeat the boss. Reload. We hit a few spots where we got stuck in corners we couldn’t escape from. In single player, I had a few instances where I jumped into an area that wasn’t supposed to be accessible and that character was then stuck in there. To exasperate this problem, the save points are useless. The game was easy enough that I was never defeated and had to go back to a checkpoint. But when I’d leave the game and come back, you don’t start at the checkpoint. You start on the SHIELD helicarrier, where you then have to travel down to New York City, find the entrance to your level, and then you have to play the whole thing again. You don’t start at your save point. What? Why isn’t that an option?
Now, let’s talk the main story here. In the main story, you control a roster of maybe 15 heroes. It makes sense to keep it concise, so you can get used to the heroes and what they’re capable of. But the draw is that you can replay these levels with different heroes that you acquire. So I went in and I wanted to play a level as Venom (because he’s awesome, that’s why). However, I couldn’t get past the first room because you needed Captain America to use his shield to open a door. Why allow “freeplay” if the levels are especially catered to these certain heroes?
Now let’s talk about New York City and the side quests. A few problems. The easiest way to navigate the city is to fly, so I was cruising as Iron Man. The flying controls are horrible though and are counterintuitive to any other game that has a flying mechanism. It also flies too fast and so navigating narrow alleyways becomes really troublesome, as Iron Man kept hitting the walls or turning backwards instead of turning sideways. I ended up preferring to run the streets as the Hulk. And the map is littered with side quests but there is no legend for what these icons mean. So I would stop by one and have to somehow find out how to trigger it. On many occasions, I couldn’t find the trigger so I’d move on. Or I would find the trigger and it would start a timer but there would be no instructions on what I was supposed to do. Now, I’m an adult. I’ve played games my whole life. If I can’t figure out some of these issues, I highly doubt kids (who are likely the real target demographic) would be able to. I wanted to unlock some of these cool other heroes, but the game stumped me.
It feels like they built a really cool game here, with a lot of love for the Marvel franchise, but the developers made a few huge missteps that cut their legs out from under them. 150 playable heroes! If you can find the right sidequests and manage to miraculously figure out how to complete them. Great storyline! If you don’t hit one of the gamebreaking glitches that makes you reload your save. There were some cool nuggets here, but the game felt like it lacked polish or wasn’t playtested enough. I can’t recommend the game because of these vital components.