An uneasy compromise.
I didn't expect LEGO Marvel Super Heroes to be anything like LEGO City: Undercover, but I was hoping that the achievements laid out in that Wii U title and the recent LEGO Batman 2 would bleed into this LEGO game, but I was incorrect. However, it’s not really like any of the older LEGO games either. Rather than traversing large, single levels, LEGO Marvel Superheroes is composed of very small, discreet mission-based stages that make the game perfect for portable gameplay. Unfortunately, some pretty severe technical issues mar an otherwise engaging experience.
As the game’s title suggests, the universe is in peril, as enemies from across the Marvel universe are collecting “Cosmic Bricks” in an effort to build Dr. Doom’s proposed Doom Ray of Doom. Through the efforts of way too many Marvel super heroes, their plans are foiled.
The game’s “levels” are three-part vignettes that chronicle the attempt by several super heroes to retrieve Cosmic Bricks from villains. The three missions usually have incredibly simple goals: beat this enemy, get from Point A to Point B, collect this many bafmodads, etc. However, wrinkles are added in that each mission has ten largely optional goals to meet. Find and save Stan Lee, collect so many studs, rescue all the civilians, don’t take any damage from the laser beams, etc. While many goals are mission-specific, others exist across most missions. This is where the meat and potatoes of the gameplay comes in. There are certain goals that can only be met by certain super heroes, and you’ll have to return after unlocking said super hero to meet the goal criteria. After beating a vignette, you’ll be able to run through its missions with any unlocked character in “Free Play” mode.
Let’s talk about technical issues, because there are quite a few. The game’s in-game graphics are passable but nothing looks especially sharp, and the isometric viewpoint can make it difficult to figure out exactly where you can and can’t go. Cutscenes look like ass. I’ve seen better-looking video on analog phones. The game’s sound quality is also poor as most effects and music sound tinny, and certain sound effects drown out every other sound. The touch screen is used for three things: activating your super power, activating a team attack, and swiping up and down to fly and land. Aside from the issues I had with recognition and delay, swiping up and down is hindered by the fact that this swiping must occur in a very narrow band of the touch screen—which happens to be directly between the gigantic icons for super power and team attack. Guess what happens more often than it should?
I’d also be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention the unusually long load times when starting up any given mission. We’re talking console-caliber load times here. In all, the technical problems of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes really make it difficult to recommend, although there’s no dearth of content. You just have to be willing to put up with a lot to enjoy it.