You know what they say, you wait ages for a bus and then two of them turn up at the same time, I felt this way with LEGO games this year. Disregarding LEGO Worlds and the level packs for Lego Dimensions, we have had two LEGO games this quarter after a 12-18 month gap. The first we received was the rather refreshing LEGO Ninjago, which I reviewed here, and this month we were introduced to LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. The question is, do TT Games expand on the usual LEGO mechanics and create a different yet familiar game with new puzzles and abilities or do they stick to the tried and tested formula of previous games? Let’s suit up and find out.
The main story of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 focuses on the Guardians of the Galaxy rather than the Avengers from the previous games. I imagine this is either because we have already had two Avenger themed LEGO games (LEGO Marvel Super Heroes + LEGO Avengers) or because of the success of the Guardians franchise so far. The team are on a mission to stop a supervillain call Kang the Conqueror, who is voiced by Peter Serafinowicz, who has taken portions of 16 different Marvel universes and melded them all together into one big mega-city, which he calls Chronopolis.
The core gameplay follows the familiar style we have become accustomed to. You have the main story missions, which are presented a little different as you receive a branched choice of what arc to play next. You will go through 20 levels trying to collect over a certain number of studs, save Stan Lee, Find 10 Minikits and one character card. You may notice that the Red Brick is missing; however, these have returned but they are pink bricks as our host this time is Gwen-Pool and they are located within 10 bonus missions which you unlock whilst in free-roam mode.
The biggest gameplay addition this time around is the gameplay style and health. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens focused on gunfire and cover shooting. LEGO Ninjago focused on melee and martial arts. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is more focused on its boss and long drawn out battles. Whereas in previous games, the bosses would have about 3-5 hearts of health and you would have to do something to entice them to drop their defences so you can hit them and remove a heart, this game makes that process more long-winded.
The enemies have health bars instead of hearts yet your character never levels up or gets stronger so defeating these enemies can drag on. For example, one boss took me about 15-20 minutes to defeat as I was taking off about 1 mm of health with each hit. Whilst I was live streaming the game, the viewers actually preferred the health bar over the usual hearts style so I imagine it is just down to personal preference. I just felt like it was something different but a little too different to the LEGO formula to allow it to feel ‘right’.
If you complete the main story (which should take around 10-12 hours) or you decide you want to try something new then you can jump into the free-roam mode at any time. Once in free-roam, you can go anywhere you wish in the whole of Chronopolis, providing you have a selectable hero who can transport you there or a flying car! The newly created mega-city is absolutely crammed with side missions and hidden items and it’s impossible to go more than about 10 seconds without seeing another quest – Imagine trying to find a Starbucks/McDonalds in London, it’s the same thing!
The side missions do get a little repetitive after a while though as there only seems to be a few different types. You can participate in races, stop a gang of criminals, follow a character as they find their friends and take photos of various landmarks as Peter Parker. You also have a host of other missions within the free-roam mode such as destroying giant silver top hats, tracking Black Panther’s cat and destroying Kang’s propaganda speakers.
The loading times within the open world are non-existent as well. As long as you have found the fast travel computer, if you choose to fast travel to any point in the open world you will be instantly transported there. This is great as you would usually expect some kind of loading due to the size of the map. Upon completing the side missions, you will either receive a gold brick or a new character to add to your collection. To put it into perspective, you unlock ~80 characters during the main story yet there are 236 to unlock with a lot of them hidden behind free-roam missions.
This leads me to the characters – I was both surprised and confused by the choices within the game. As I said above, there are 236 of them and there are a lot of famous ones missing such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four (for obvious reasons) so they have had to be creative and pull out some of the strangest people in Stan Lee’s history! We have characters such as ‘Giant-Man’, Chipmunk Hunk, Cap-Wolf and even Man-Ape who appears to be a guy in an ape skin/suit. I actually found these characters delightful and welcomed in a game about the Super Heroes rather than just playing as the most popular Avengers all the time. You even have multiple versions of each of the main Avengers from each of the dimensions, the best being Spider-Man Noir who is in Black and White and comes equipped with two pistols.
The missions all take place across the various locations so they are also fully stylised based on the area they are in. This brings greater variety to the level design than we have seen in previous Avenger based LEGO games. In terms of the level design, I really enjoyed it. We have an open world which is comprised of 16 different universes, each with their own styles and characters. Universes from the 1920’s sepia style Noir-Manhattan where everything is washed out and stylised right up to the futuristic Xandar from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It feels quite surreal when you’re completing a mission in Medieval England when an NPC casually drives past in a flying car!
The only thing I didn’t like with free-roam was the way completed missions are treated. On your map you have a few hundred quest markers and once you complete a mission a small green tick appears inside the icon; however, when you only have a few left it makes it harder to find the ones you need to do. I would have liked the option to hide completed missions or just have them vanish when completed – there is no reason to keep showing them.
One thing I never really play with but was asked to look at constantly whilst live streaming is the character creation section. Now this part really blew me away as I was expecting to pick a head, body, legs and hands and then choose an ability and we’re done. But no, this is most likely the deepest part of the entire game! As above, you can pick from pre-created body parts (if you have unlocked the character) or choose a plain one and colour it in, then the customisation begins.
You can pick what happens when you press attack, when you hold attack, jump, and double jump etc.… You can customise every last part of your skillset including the best thing I’ve ever seen in a LEGO game – you can pick every freeplay ability and put it on one person. What does this mean? Well, your created character can burn things, lift heavy objects, walk through poison etc.… So instead of remembering who does what, you can give all the abilities to one person who can do everything. This may not seem like much, but in a game where it isn’t obvious what each character can do, I found this very useful and a great help.
Finally, just like LEGO Ninjago, we have a new multiplayer mode which is a separate option from the pause menu. Here, up to four players or CPU can play either capture the flag or colour clash (imagine Splatoon but all on one screen with 4 players) on one of four small battlegrounds. These are more akin to Mario Party mini-games than full-on multiplayer modes and will offer a limited distraction from the main game. Personally, I preferred the LEGO Ninjago multiplayer section more than this one, as the games were more varied with bigger maps.
LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 was a good addition to the franchise. The customisation and amount of things to do are spectacular and I can see this easily taking over 25 hours to see and do everything it has to offer. However, the switch to health bars with the influx of boss and long-winded battles pulled it down a bit for me. At some points, the game felt like a drag which was really disappointing as it had the basis of being something really good.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2
- Quirky selection of new Marvel characters to play with
- The character creation section is really deep and varied
- The level design and styles are great, along with the Dimension based characters
- No load times once in the free-roam mode, even if fast travelling
- Story is a little generic (if you take out the cool locations)
- The map in free-roam becomes confusing with all the different quest markers which never vanish
- The health bars seemed to drag out battles rather than making them more engaging
- The multiplayer area was nice but felt like an afterthought