Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One (reviewed), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC
A couple of years back, TT Games proved that it could do more with a comic book universe outside of what DC Comics had to offer with Lego Marvel Super Heroes, a game that packed everyone from Deadpool to Wolverine in an all-ages adventure filled with great references, fun action and colorful visuals. For the long-awaited sequel, Lego Marvel's Avengers, the developers work a little differently, but most of the heroic magic we've come to expect from them is still intact.
This time around, the focus of the in-game events is based around the Marvel films, except Guardians of the Galaxy. That means everything from Marvel's The Avengers to Age of Ultron is fair game, along with some extra content from around the Marvel universe. It all ties together with a neat little bow, thanks to slight changes in combat and levels that are well worth exploring.
Avengers Assemble In Blocks
What makes Avengers such a fresh Lego experience is the gameplay. Yes, most of the basics remain intact – build stuff to move forward in stages, take on enemies until they break apart in bricks – but TT Games adds to the experience to make it feel unique from other games in their arsenal.
For instance, each character has something to offer in terms of combat. Hawkeye launches explosive arrows; Hulk simply smashes his way through everything (even cars!); Captain America can knock things out with his shield; and Iron Man, well, c'mon, he shoots plasma beams. They all feel very true to their characters. Even the smaller unlocks, like, uh, Lou Ferrigno (yes, that guy that was in The Incredible Hulk), has his combative moments.
In addition, new finishing moves add a bit of flair to the fighting scenarios, even if they tend to repeat. They add a nice little dash of personality to the gameplay, along with selecting characters for specific duties. There can be times you may be scratching your head when it comes to finding certain objectives, but there's enough to do that you won't grow bored.
Furthermore, like previous Lego games, Avengers is a blast when it comes to involving two players. Couch co-op is still one of the best experiences around, and you aren't regulated to staying within the same screen, as it splits up with an interesting revolving line tactic. It makes for a fun time with kids and adults alike, something you really can't say that often about games these days.
Building a Better Unit
As far as presentation is concerned, Lego Marvel's Avengers is about on par with what Super Heroes offered. That sounds like a step backward, but the levels themselves are devoted designs to what we witnessed in the movies, and the characters look great in Lego-ized form, from the current favorites to long-lost Marvel legends that haven't been in a game in, well, ever. There are times that a glitch or two can get in the way, and the camera causes havoc when it comes to certain platforming challenges, but with unlimited lives, it's not entirely a hassle.
That said, the team at TT Games made an interesting choice this time around, foregoing the usual comic cast that voiced Marvel Super Heroes in favor of sound bites from the films. Maybe this was a call by Marvel or WB Games, we're not sure, but it doesn't entirely fit. It's authentic, sure, but trying to build comical situations around super-serious dialogue doesn't always work. That said, the music still hits the spot, with plenty of heroic themes from the films.
An Abundance of Extras
On top of the single player campaign, which will take you a few hours to run through, Avengers also packs a wallop of bonus content.
First up are the open world hubs, which aren't quite as sandbox-y as we'd prefer, but still give you a ton to do in terms of bonus objectives, collectibles and just being able to trash traffic with the Hulk. Asgard is particularly shiny, making you feel like you're a god as you roam through – even if you're playing as Squirrel Girl. (Hey, Squirrel Girl can be a god, too, c'mon.)
On top of that, with over 200 gold bricks to find, hundreds of characters to unlock, and the ability to find Stan Lee in some form of peril in almost any given stage, it all adds up to far more content than you're used to finding in a Lego-based game. This one will certainly keep you and the kids busy enough until Civil War hits theaters in just a few months.