Review in Progress: Lego Marvel Super Heroes Preview

In spite of the fact that it was “Unofficial Batman Week” around the GameSpot offices last week (MANvsGAME’s Jason Love ran a marathon livestream session of the three console Batman games, Batman t-shirts abounded and a small canine in a Batman costume wandering around…), the Marvel universe has my attention at the moment. Lego Marvel Super Heroes has arrived.

And it shipped with a free Loki keychain.

You can’t argue with a free Loki keychain.

While a full review is in progress for Monday, I’ve been playing the game for the past couple of days and having a great time, TT Games having lovingly crafted a sumptuous meal for Lego and Marvel fans alike. With roughly 150 characters to unlock and play as–including side characters such as Aunt May, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson and pop culture tropes such as Howard the Duck (who comes equipped with a rocket launcher)–there appears to be something for everyone here.

This, and the pleasure of exploration, make for the joy of this game. Granted, this isn’t the brainiest title you’ll pick up this year, nor will it be regarded as subtle or nuanced (the game’s relatively simple plot centers around preventing Doctor Doom and cohorts from collecting cosmic bricks to build Doom’s Doom Ray of Doom), there’s an undeniable joy in what can be called the “Lego Formula.” In the Lego Formula, you’ll readily jump into the level, smash or blast everything destructible around you, battle your enemies, see what Lego pieces can be picked up, what machines can be assembled or what superpowers can be used to solve the on-screen puzzles and move on from there. Yes, it’s an established method and the Lego franchise has long done this, but you’re fully immersed in the Lego-ized Marvel universe as you do this, unlocking more and more content in the process, and it’s still as rewarding as it ever was.

Superb attention to detail shows what a Lego variant of a Marvel world can truly be and for every landmark, location or item that you ever loved in a Marvel movie or comic book.

Where Lego Marvel Super Heroes truly shines is in its warmth and attention to detail. The game’s humor is light, playful and genuinely fun, the writers reveling in the implied cheesiness of the comic book genre and the super hero characters therein and hamming up the dialogue to make the cutscenes enjoyable. Background jokes such as Lego workers trying to sweep up the destruction from the last level’s epic battle, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson constantly bringing Nick Fury and other heroes snacks and the Hulk growing frustrated with a computer that he winds up smashing, keep the mood where it needs to be. Superb attention to detail shows what a Lego variant of a Marvel world can truly be and for every landmark, location or item that you ever loved in a Marvel movie or comic book (such as the Helicarrier, Asteroid M, downtown Manhattan, etc.), there’s usually a Lego version of it that catches your attention and proves fun to explore.

It’s been fun to see the Lego games grow over the last decade and Lego Marvel Super Heroes is no exception. Improved modeling, lighting and details make the game visually inviting, responsive controls make the simple act of moving around enjoyable and improvements in the combat engine have turned what seemed to be two Lego figures slap-fighting in the early Lego games into a genuine fight between the two characters being shown on screen.

Unfortunately, a few glitches have interrupted my fun. A small, unexplained black square briefly appeared above my characters’ heads towards the end of the game and a graphical glitch showed both the dead and alive versions of the Thing on screen simultaneously, the protocol calling for a dead character to explode in a shower of Lego bricks, disappear and come back again a moment later.

Between the visceral joy of pounding your opponents into dozens of exploding Legos, unlocking every character you can and taking down a set of flying Hulkbuster armor via the Iron Man 3 “House Party” protocol (wherein half a dozen Iron Man suits fly in to assist you), there’s always something fun to do in Lego Marvel Super Heroes. This is the blend of Lego and the Marvel universe you’ve been waiting for, a joyously geeky concoction worthy of your attention.

I’ll have the full review come Monday.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Lego version of Carnage to unlock and frighten a metropolitan populace with…

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