Games that are licensed on superhero franchises often don’t make the grade. Remember that terrible Iron Man film tie-in from SEGA? There are a few that stand out from the crowd, but these are often games that aren’t based on a particular film release with more time to cook in the oven and are not constricted by a film’s plot or spoilers; games like Injustice or the Arkham series. These show that magic can be created given time, talent and creative freedom. One other franchise that has done well in this area are the LEGO games; having already seen success with the LEGO Batman trilogy and the previous Marvel Super Heroes game. Now is the time to return to Marvel with some muscle flexing, brick busting action.
Set after the events of the first game, LMSH2 sees super villain Kang slowly trying to create his own utopia, using the power to manipulate time and dimensions to create a new world called Chronopolis and it is down to our long, long list of heroes to try and put an end to his shenanigans. The story plays out over a series of chapters, each taking place in a land that is either out of its time period, or ripped from another dimension. This does give scope for more varied locations, including ones that you wouldn’t expect to see in a Marvel game, such as medieval England or the old west. There is even an alternate timeline New York, where Hydra has taken control. Each chapter sees a select team up of heroes come together and use their unique abilities to navigate through to the end, often facing up against a super villain.
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Switch, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Multiplayer: Local co-op
Price I’d pay: $39.99
If you have ever played a LEGO game before, then you will know exactly what to expect here; smash items, build new items from the rubble, pull levers and solve basic puzzles. There is nothing new to challenge players here, in fact, I felt that there was far too much going on. When LEGO Star Wars released way back when, there was a charm to its simplistic nature, something that keeps me coming back every so often to replay it. As the franchise has expanded, so has the need for Traveller’s Tales to make things bigger. But bigger isn’t always better. Levels are too crowded with too much going on, and sometimes with no real direction given.
The levels themselves aren’t overly long, with many taking 20-30 minutes to get through on the first try, but a lot of things players asked to do feels like busywork, which detracts from the real fun, which is busting out one of the hundreds of characters on offer and going for a spin. That is where the Free Play mode comes into action. Complete a main story mission and it unlocks for Free Play. Here players can take any of the characters they have unlocked and try the level again.
As many of the collectables are hidden behind certain hero’s abilities, Free Play is the only way to 100% the game. Each mission has 10 Mini-Kits to find, 4 golden bricks and even a Stan Lee to help. That’s along with a LEGO Stud counter to reach. All of these feed in to your overall completion percentage, which in turn unlocks new secrets. The problem I had here is that with some previous LEGO games, it only required a character from a specific class to unlock many secret areas or puzzles; but here is requires specific characters, and you can only select one when playing Free Play, with the other being a randomly generated selection. This meant playing a mission in Free Play several times over. Not great when there is so much to unlock already. There are also pink bricks that can be brought to help on the way, such as multiplying the collected studs and helping find Mini-Kits. These have been in every previous LEGO game, but were always red in color; but this time Gwenpool is dishing them out, so they’re pink.
Speaking of Gwenpool, she is just one of the characters that appear in this game, with over 200 to unlock. These range from the usual suspects; Iron Man, Spidey and Captain America, to mid-tier heroes like Agent Coulson, She-Hulk and Blade and even to the super obscure like Man-Ape, Attuma and A-Bomb. The list is impressive and will certainly appeal to the hardcore Marvel fan. There’s even Aunt May knocking about in there somewhere as well. Many can be unlocked simply through playing the main campaign, but many of the more interesting ones require side quests to be completed. There are also special variants of classic heroes to find from storylines like Noir and 2099. You want to collect everything? Then expect to put a serious amount of time into this game.
The combat in these games has always been simple, but of late, they have started messing with the formula. Now we have two different types of attack, one standard and the other a power attack. Power attacks are grapple style moves can destroy an enemy in one hit, but they take ages to animate, as the final part is always in slow motion. It really slows the pacing and I ended up never using them, as it isn’t as if the combat is very taxing anyway. I just felt that it was something the game could easily have done without, much like the over complicating of the level design. Also, many of the boss battle follow a similar pattern which involves attacking a boss until they raise some kind of shield, at which point their minions will come out and have a go, then their shield will drop, so you can rinse and repeat.
There are a few that do mix things up, like a dogfight over the skies of New York against Baron Zemo, and chasing Green Goblin as either Spider-Man or Spider-Gwen, but most follow a tired formula. There are other thing to do however, with side quests and challenges littered throughout Chronopolis, and completing them will always unlock something for your collection. So it is at least easy enough to find a distraction to entertain you for a while. And of course, as usual LMSH2 offers up a co-op mode, which once again is local only. Still find it strange that the online version still alludes this franchise, but I can only imagine that there must b a very good reason for TT to exclude it after all this time.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a pure dose of fan service to Marvel enthusiasts, with its long list of characters, recognizable locations and its nods to storylines and in-jokes, but I feel that these games have lost their way over time. It isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy my time with it, but I certainly won’t be going back to it time and again, trying to achieve that 100% completion stat.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.