They say if it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it. That statement becomes a bit ironic when you apply it the Lego branded video games whose very raison d’être is to smash things up and then rebuild them into something useful but the statement also happens to ring true. Bar a few minor cosmetic and gameplay tweaks, the Lego games have been pretty much same since Traveller’s Tales brought ‘Lego Star Wars’ into the world in 2005. Take a beloved film franchise and mix it with the Lego brand. Create gameplay in which getting through the story is secondary to the replay value of going through and collecting hidden items and finding surprises. Make it all as family friendly as possible and, bar one or two difficult puzzles, also relatively easy. Then sit back and let the sales figures rise. That formula has created a distinct brand, one far away from the world of the hardcore gamer. Indeed, many shy away from the Lego games due to their perceived ease of play and ‘kiddy’ nature but they have proved immensely popular taking in ‘Star Wars’, ‘Lord Of The Rings’, ‘Jurassic World’, ‘Indiana Jones’ and numerous DC and Marvel properties.
The latest in the Lego games is ‘Lego Marvel Avengers’, a follow-up to the popular ‘Lego Marvel Super-Heroes’. Unlike the previous game, which had an original storyline, this one uses the current Marvel cinematic universe for its inspiration. Playing through levels based on the two ‘Avengers’ movies plus bonus missions based on the likes of ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and ‘Iron Man 3’, the aim is to solve puzzles (often by destroying Lego pieces and making them into something new) by using characters of different abilities whilst also engaging in combat to defeat a number of bad guys.
Level progression is relatively easy and intuitive with only one or two puzzles resulting in ‘What the hell do I do now?’ moments. Combat is also relatively painless with even the ‘Boss’ battles requiring little practice before you’re able to advance. Fun is the watchword here rather than challenge. This goes down to the cutscenes. Re-imagining the Avengers movies with Lego characters it gives everything a more child friendly twist. In this world, no-one ever dies, they just get covered in ice cream. It also utilises dialogue from the films which sometimes feels a bit out of place in the world of the game. There is original voice work from the likes of Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill (which sometimes feels a little phoned in) and Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson (who has a lot of fun delivering some silly lines). There are also cameos from the likes of Hayley Atwell, Stan Lee (‘nuff said) and original TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno.
As with the majority of the Lego games, the storyline is merely a backdrop to exploring the game’s sandbox to look for hidden characters, vehicles and ‘Gold Bricks’ scattered around the levels and ‘Hub Sections’, which are basically open world. It expands on ‘Lego Marvel Super-Heroes’ by having multiple hubs, with Manhattan now joined by the likes of Washington DC, South Africa and Asgard, in which you have to explore and do tasks in order to find aforementioned characters and Gold Bricks. This expansion of the hubs certainly makes finding everything more varied and less of a slog. However, by releasing most of the bonus levels early in the game, you’re collecting everything just to try and get 100 per cent completion as opposed to using them to unlock bonuses. As such, the ‘grind’ factor starts to increase for those wanting to explore every bit of the game world.
There are 100s of playable characters, including the various iterations of those appearing in the Marvel movies. Trying not to repeat themselves from the first game, the makers have also delved into the obscure corners of comicbook history to give us collectable characters who many may have forgotten (the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond anyone?) but it’s this geeky referencing to comicbook history that will appeal to many and it shows a certain reverence to the source material.
There is also a chance to download extra levels and characters with two recent free character packs featuring heroes from the upcoming ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and the recent ‘Ant Man’ movie. There have also been a number of free new levels made available based on ‘Ant Man’ and it’s a fun little addition to the game as you have to utilise the shrinking ability to make your way through.
The game perhaps misses some of the joyous fun of its predecessors, mainly because it has to stick closely to the films on which it is based. ‘Lego Marvel Avengers’ still manages to provide a large dose of family entertainment that isn’t too taxing but will appeal to the geeky completest in all of us.
Lego Marvel Avengers is available for PC, Nintendo Wii, Xbox and PS4 and this review was based on the PS4 version
(pub: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. PS4 video game. Price: £34.83 (UK). ASIN: B00UAC3ZK0)