The Lego games have long since been a source of light-hearted entertainment, fun and a chance for adults and children alike to revel in a pixelated world of make-believe. And with the opportunity to play as your favourite characters from the Avengers and the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe Lego Marvel’s Avengers is no different.
Besides the events from the films, both the original and Age of Ultron, the plot is fairly loose overall, with the game featuring an open world that you can explore at your leisure. But what works well in this iteration of the very familiar franchise is the inclusion of dialogue from the Avengers’ film itself and the ability to live out moments from the film, albeit with a Lego twist. Dialogue from various scenes comes across in almost seamlessly timed situations, almost identical to the movie. Want to live out the first few ten or so minute of the film as Agent Coulson? Not a problem. Jump in his shoes and try to reach Fury just before Loki arrives, with the exact same dialogue being uttered by the characters.
Thor, sporting cape and blond hair, passes the familiar ‘Avengers Tower’.
There are moments like this throughout, tying in your personal efforts with events from the film, which goes down well with kids, at least that’s what my son thinks. But the overall effect is remarkably entertaining and helps to add a hero-orientated atmosphere, with you firmly at the centre, complete with spandex trousers or a metal codpiece, depending on your choice of characters.
And speaking of characters, the game features more than two hundred playable characters, ranging from the obvious inclusion of Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America to Captain Universe and Daredevil Yes, that’s right, Daredevil. You get to dish out the pain as Matt Murdoch’s alter-ego. Without the R-rated stuff obviously.
Graphically, it’s business as usual. And that’s not a complaint. Everything is well presented in its blocky beauty, as you would expect, but it’s pleasant to look at, especially on the larger, open-world sections. And you get a real buzz from flying around New York as Ironman or Thor, taking in the scenery. Though there are areas where the buildings could do with a little more work to bring them to life. But there are other worlds to explore, including Asgard and Washington D.C.
But it’s the gameplay where the game succeeds. Along with the dialogue and the wealth of characters, missions are thoroughly enjoyable, even more so when played with friends or family. And if, like me, you have a son who enjoys anything Marvel related, teaming up to take on the bad guys can be thoroughly entertaining. Make no mistake, though, this game is primarily aimed at a younger audience, but it features enough humour to entertain those a little older. Okay, a lot older.
The Tony Stark anti-green mean machine.
Though my son thoroughly enjoys the loose approach to the plot and missions, as an ‘older’ gamer it can be a slightly jarring experience. Jumping from location to location is to be expected in a typical video game, but the sheer number of characters on offer and the fact that the game draws from several different films with different plots tends to spoil the flow of an otherwise enjoyable yomp around the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And occasionally, if played in Co-op, the strict adherence to a particular scene results in one player duking it out with the bad guy, while your cohort stands around twiddling their superhero thumbs, or trying to complete a series of menial challenges under the guise of them being there to aid your progress. Hulkbuster vs Hulk springs to mind.
That being said, there aren’t too many of these one-sided missions, so you’re able to enjoy the opportunity to try some truly unusual hero combinations.
My biggest gripe about the game is in the open world sections. On more than one occasion I was alerted to a crime being committed or a villain terrorizing a small part of whatever map location I was in, such as Manhattan. Unfortunately, trying to find the perpetrator or villain proved extremely difficult as the small map literally displays thousands of collectables and side missions that can be obtained or undertaken. At one point when playing as the Hulk, I was notified by Agent Coulson that something was going on in a part of the city, I ended up chasing what I thought was a master villain only to realize that a woman’s handbag had been snatched. My pursuit of said ‘bag-snatcher’ can only be described as overzealous.
The way around this is to explore and be familiar with the environment around you. Something that could prove difficult in the larger locations that are filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians.
That being said, it is nice to freely explore the locations at your disposal, something that I’ve rarely had the opportunity to do in previous Lego games. In a way, both gametypes — the open world maps and the plot derived missions — provide polarized versions of the game itself, with the ‘campaign’ being somewhat obstructive at times and the open world being, well, open.
All in all it’s a decent title that allows you to indulge in a wealth of superhero goodness, but drops the ball when it comes to clear mission direction.