16/11/2013

Story-liners: Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)

Game: Lego Marvel Super Heroes
Release: 2013, Retail
System: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PC
Starring: Adrian Pasdar, John Eric Bentley, James Arnold Taylor
Directed by: Mark Hoffmeier
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: When The Silver Surfer is shot down on his trip to earth, his cosmic board scatters into powerful cosmic blocks. It becomes a race against time, when Earth's Mightiest Heroes are fighting the greatest villains in the Marvel universe, led by Doctor Doom, to stop them from using the new blocks for their nefarious purposes.

Hans' thoughts:

Lego Games. Starting with the Lego Star Wars games, the game company Travellers Tales has managed to turn simple retellings of movie storylines into both a major marketing success and a series of genuinely well-made childrens platformers. This game is the third of their licensed to be based on an original tale, following the two Lego Batman games. The game is pretty much the same formula from the previous Lego games overall, carrying over the open world hub and voiced cut-scenes from Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Thankfully, while the appearances of other superheroes in Lego Batman 2 amounted to not much more than cameos (save for the case of Superman) Lego Marvel Superheroes benefits from it's title not being bound to a single character. Besides the "must show" characters made popular by The Avengers movie, we have a surprising amount of lesser-known characters making an appearance in the game. I was actually baffled by how little the game banks on using characters and situations similar to the films. Of course you can't go completely without it and jokes like Nick Fury constantly eating Shawarma, or animations like Hulk throwing his enemies in a similar fashion to his most memorable moment in The Avengers can be found throughout the title, some of running gags are based on exaggerating the characters which means that they can become kind of grating on the nerves after a while. There are only so many times you want to hear Captain America make a pun based on his patriotism. Characters having a large part in the story is mainly that of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America.. and then out of nowhere: Reed Richards aka. Mister Fantastic. While not too obscure, it has been quite a while since The Fantastic Four made a major appearance in contemporary media. It just goes to show that the writers has not allowed themselves to be held back by a memo from the marketing depart which, considering the state of the competition over at DC, is really refreshing. The game even has some boss fights featuring lesser known Marvel villains. 

The look of the game, as you may have guessed, is entirely based on Lego's. In the former titles it could look very much off a times but thankfully this time around the higher quality graphics has really helped in making the game actually look and feel like you're looking at the toys interacting with the environments. The voice work of the game is, while not quite up to snuff at times, never too bad. The best one is Clark Gregg, once again reprising his role as Agent Coulson. I have to admit that I have never been much of a fan of the character but it is nice to have him around none the less. There is the occasional line from the others, especially the female actor for Maria Hill, that is read rather mechanically, but it never to the point where you are pulled out of your engagement in just how fun the simplistic controls for the game is. This is a major strong point for the lego games, when you have completed the main story once you're able to unlock tons of well-known characters and collectibles. There are hours to be spent on the game if you're going after 100%. A new addition to the game is additional side-stages, all narrated in comic book fashion by the fan-favorite character Deadpool, who sadly doesn't make an appearance in the main story aside from a small cameo. In the side-stages, you're exposed to mini-stories like The Vulture & Howard The Duck attacking Marvel Studios. These small amounts of Deadpool are at the very least fun to listen to, and of course he's also available as a unlockable character once you've completed the storyline. 

This game, while not encompassing ALL of the Marvel universe (Let's face it, that would be a 50+ hour game) it does manage to make the characters very approachable to even the untrained fan. For the bigger true believers, there are fun meta-gags scattered throughout the game which I'm sure you'll pick up on right away. To me, this was the game at it's finest. Jokes about recurring character tropes, fun (if repetitive) banter from bystanders and a story which managed to only become better and better as the story went along. All the major Marvel villains make a noteworthy appearance, and while it's kinda obvious what the end-game of the villains is, it still makes for a great moment when the jig is up and our heroes have to fight the big bad that's been looming over the story ever since before the title screen. The twists and turns the story makes to include as many well-established Marvel locals as possible also makes for a welcome surprise. There are a few places I would've loved to have seen (such as the African nation Wakanda) but on the other hand, forcing such places into the story would probably have made it suffer from it. As it is, most of the story takes place in the hometown of most of the Marvel superheroes: New York city. While I very much doubt that the interpretation of the city is accurate at all (I've never been there), the map is big enough to make it feel like you're actually making your way through a big city. MArvel Superheroes manages to give a quick introduction to a beloved group of characters, while still telling a fun story. the question "I wonder who's gonna turn up next" is probably gonna be on your mind as you play through this simple, yet enjoyable experience.
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