The LEGO series, developed by TT Games and published by Warner Brothers, has tackled previous film adaptations such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Batman, and my personal favorite Indiana Jones.
The developer’s latest iteration, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, showcases scenes from the previous two Avengers films as well as three other films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This isn’t the first time Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, and others have been featured in a LEGO video game, but it is the first time they have carried their own release.
In general the LEGO franchise is made to be accessible to younger players. Jokes in the various games tend to feature visuals gags like a group of chickens playing poker or actual “fish in a barrel.” Making a video game accessible doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun experience, it just needs to have a level of depth to make it rewarding. LEGO Avengers is overflowing with childish fun, but the game itself needs an injection of depth and challenge to raise it up out of the categorization of ‘children’s game’ and into the space of being a rich and engaging adventure game.
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers has twelve missions in the main story line that covers events from both Avengers and Age of Ultron. Three bonus missions are also available from the world view and those feature stories from Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Thor: The Dark World. The missions were fun and there was enough variation in level design to keep it interesting.
With such a priority to follow the original films’ stories, the developer went through the process of creating LEGO versions of the films’ cut scenes. The game even includes audio clips and dialogue taken straight from the movies. At first it was an interesting addition with time spent listening to the game also spent thinking back to the original films, but over time it became a chore and started to mar the overall experience. Ultimately, it took away any credibility towards claims of overall game creativity as they just copied the scenes of what happened in the feature films.
The cut scenes in the game were incredibly long and the inability to skip the scenes in the first play through only prolonged the time it took to complete it. The initial twelve missions took over nine hours to complete and the cut scenes started to feel more like filler than a feature. About half way through the campaign the desire to play the game far outweighed the desire to watch it.
Completing each mission unlocked free play mode which meant gamers could play through the levels again with the ability to change out their characters on the fly. This encouraged playing through each level again as many Minikits and character tokens were not accessible to the original characters. While playing through the game there were many points that there was absolutely no direction on what to do next. Multiple times game progression only happened after an accidental smash to a light pole or pull on an indiscriminate lever.
Some of the most fun in the game is had while patrolling Manhattan, one of the game’s free play locations. Players can fly around the island as Iron Man, run crazy fast across the city as Quicksilver, or use any unlocked character to interact with other heroes, citizens, or puzzles. Moving around the city at one’s own pace is relaxing and rescuing citizens is just as fun as running side missions.
Gold brick puzzles in the open areas are interesting and they have enough variation to them that the process of solving the puzzles didn’t feel repetitive. There is enough interesting content in Manhattan alone to keep gamers playing for a long time. Another great feature about Manhattan is that Stark Tower and the Helicarrier are both included in this area which means players can fly right up to either location and walk right into them without encountering a major loading screen. This only increases that feeling that it’s part of a bigger world.
Flying through the city is a joy and the controls of the LEGO characters are easy to use, but every once in a while a mission will require the use of driving a LEGO car. The cars in the open areas are sluggish and underperform in everything from their accelerating to braking and most of all their steering. It’s easy to miss turns or objectives when driving the cars at full speed.
Like any other LEGO game, Avengers features couch co-op with two players able to play at the same time. This is great for parents who want to play with their kids or friends who want to destroy tons of LEGO blocks together, but the inability to play online with friends is a missed feature.
Overall, TT Games has delivered a consistent version of what players can expect from the LEGO experience. There are moments in the game where smashing something with Hulk or flying around as War Machine is completely satisfying, but issues with level design and long cut scenes really hold the game back. LEGO Marvel Avengers could be something more than just a children’s game and rise to the status of a mainstream title, but it ultimately falls short of that task.
Decent. While there may be some good things about these games, the bad far offsets the good. Fans of the genre may be interested, but it’s a rental at best. This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 console.