As you know, we here at Prawn Central LOVE us some LEGO games, so it’s with a lot of excitement that we got our grubby mitts on LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, the latest LEGO game from Travellers Tales. If you’ve played a LEGO game before, I doubt there’ll be much in this review that’s new to you, but I think you should read it anyhow, if only for the entertainment value. Excelsior!

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The story of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes starts off with Silver Surfer being captured by Doctor Doom, and his Cosmic Board being used as part of Doctor Doom’s Doom Ray…of Doom (the pause is important, okay?). The problem is that the board was blasted into a number of smithereens (not just one smithereen or two, but a whole bunch of them), and Doctor Doom has somehow managed to hire every “bad guy, villain, and every dark minion” he could find to help him gather the rest of the aforementioned bits of smithereen, and assemble the Doom Ray of Doom. Naturally, of course, Nick Fury and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. gather every Marvel universe super hero they can find to help counter the evil plan.

How does this game fare against prior LEGO games? Well, it’s pretty darned brilliant. The explorable hub world between missions has become a sprawling LEGO version of New York. I’m not sure how it compares in size to Gotham City from LEGO Batman 2, but it’s still a fairly huge area to explore. The roster of characters is also fairly extensive: while LEGO Batman 2 featured over 70 playable characters, in Marvel Super Heroes you get access to over 150. Granted, many of them are variants of a single character. Iron Man, for example, comprises a number of older Iron Man suits in addition to the current one, each one possessing different abilities.

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The main campaign aside (which will easily set you back around 8 to 12 hours on a single playthrough), there are tons of side missions to go after. The most fun ones are accessible from within buildings in Manhattan, and are narrated by Deadpool. One mission, for example, has Doctor Octopus and Agent Coulson cleaning up the Daily Bugle offices to appease J. Jonah Jameson. That aside, there are fetch quests, puzzle quests, and battle quests to embark upon throughout Manhattan. And this is all before the free play versions of the campaign levels. It’s a lot of stuff to do, and will easily keep you busy for three times longer than it takes to finish the campaign, especially if you’re a completionist.

Adding to the “wow” factor of the game is the stellar cast of voice actors. Well, stellar for the video game world. Nolan “I must voice everyone” North reprises his role as Deadpool, James “Ratchet” Arnold Taylor voices Spiderman and Professor X, and Lauren “Harley Quinn” Bailey voices a gamut of female supers from Jean Grey to Mystique to Black Widow. Tara “Rikku” Strong voices Mary Jane Watson and She-Hulk, John “Marcus Fenix” DiMaggio (also well known for voicing Bender from Futurama) voices Jameson, Galactus, Odin, and Green Goblin, and Adrian Pasdar reprises his role as Iron Man from the TV series. That’s a lot of familiar voicework right there.

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For all that the game has going for it, there are obviously a few niggles. One of mine was that there’s no obvious indication of what the map symbols meant, so that was largely trial and error to figure out. Also, it wasn’t obvious how to change characters when free-roaming around Manhattan. It took me a while to figure out that you first need to find one of the many call-in points to change character before being able to change freely. This is inconsistent with prior games, and minorly annoying. Another strange niggle is the flight controls. Obviously, using a 2D axis controller to try flying around in a 3D space is difficult enough to implement, but why oh why tie “thrust” to the same control as “up”? It makes flying around horrendously and needlessly complicated. Still, these problems are minor compared to how well the rest of the game fits together.

Where many other game series have their ups and down, the LEGO series just seems to keep getting better and better and this game is no exception to TT Games’ successful formula. Fans of superheroes will obviously be drawn to this game, but I think it’s fair to say that the humour and sheer playability makes it one of those rare caped crusaders that appeals to just about everyone. It’s easily the best LEGO game out there right now, and if you’re looking for something awesome for Christmas, you’d should definitely be collecting this!

Final Score: 8.5 PRAWN SMASH out of 10

Detailed Information:
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: WB Games
Distributor: Ster-Kinekor
Platforms: PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360 (reviewed), Xbox One, Windows, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS/2DS, Nintendo DS
Age Rating: 10
Website: http://videogames.lego.com/en-us/lego-marvel-super-heroes/about/features