Developer: TT Games / Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment / Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita and PC / Release Date: Fall 2013 / ESRB: Teen [Animated Violence]
While some game franchises start to become conspicuously predictable or outright stale around the third (or fourth, or fifth) iteration, the robust ‘Lego [Insert Spin Here]‘ franchise still finds ways to stay interesting, and doesn’t seem likely to run out of steam/appeal any time soon. Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be able to mine the width and depth of every other creative franchise/universe floating around out there (Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Batman, Star Wars, et al), either. We recently got a look at Warner Bros. Interactive’s forthcoming Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and so far it’s looking like the biggest and most versatile in the Lego lineup to date.
Developed by TT Games, Lego Marvel Super Heroes will offer action-adventure and puzzle-solving gameplay comparable to that found in many of the previous Lego titles, this time showcasing a character lineup core-sampled from the sprawling Marvel Comics mythos in all its multiversal glory. Nick Fury has enlisted the aid of superheroes from all walks—and flies, and stomps, and web-swings—of super-life to save Earth from the likes of prime antagonist Galactus, as well as Loki and other assorted threats both major and minor.
Tied to both the comics and the films based upon them—and don’t forget the real-world, construction-toy products, which do and will continue to represent a pretty epic collection in their own right—the action in Lego Marvel Super Heroes takes place in iconic (and literal) set-piece environments featured in the Spider-Man, Iron Man and X-Men universes, including the Avengers film and the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. Players can expect to see Lego-world versions of Marvel Universe locales such as Asteroid M., The X-Mansion, a Hydra base, Asgard and of course Stark Tower—itself located in an unprecedented open-world Lego Manhattan, which players will scour in search of the game’s all-important ‘Cosmic Brick’ Lego building-blocks.
Environment and lineup-wise, this is the most sprawling Lego game to date, boasting a super hero (and super-villain) lineup to beat the (super-) band. The game features a playable-character roster including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Hulk, Bruce Banner (un-Hulked, as we saw with our own eyes), Iron Man, Tony Stark (un-armored, evidently), Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Deadpool, and a veritable Marvel-Universe metric crap-ton of others; in all, the game will feature more than one hundred super-heroes and super-villains. Some of them, as in the case of Hulk or Abomination, will be rendered in their oversized, so-called ‘BIG Fig’ incarnations, considerably larger in size and capable of wreaking suitably Hulk-smash havoc on the game’s plethora of destructible objects, bits of fragile scenery and/or throwable vehicles.
This isn’t to neglect the skills of the more normal-sized Heroes. All of your favorite Marvel characters have unique (and super-cool) special abilities that promise to open up whole new cans of Lego-themed whoop-ass: Captain America can throw his legendary shield to deflect enemy fire, or even whang the thing edgewise into a wall to provide a stepping-stone ledge to reach higher objectives; Iron Man can fly, hover, emit a powerful beam from his chest, or let fly with a swarm of missiles; and Spider-Man can crawl the walls, sling about the environment (or disable/entangle enemies) with his web-shooters, or find/use objects invisible to others courtesy of his Spider-sense. There’s even call, occasionally, to use the non-super-powered version of some characters: Hulk is great when it comes to mindlessly smashing foes and walls…. but if you want the brain-powered hands of a scientist to quickly cobble together a useful device from Lego-bits, you need to revert back to the humble mortal (Lego) coil of Bruce Banner, at least temporarily.
The various Heroes’ special powers can be used in neat, creative combinations in situations that continually change: When Sandman has turned the area near Grand Central Station into ‘Sand Central Station’ with obstacles and threats composed of dangerous, constantly-manipulated particulated earth—well, Hulk can’t exactly inflict much damage there with even the Hulk-smashiest punch…unless said flowing sand-threat can be compacted into a destructible object by getting it good and wet first. Of course, you’ll need the decidedly-human Bruce Banner to construct the water-cannon necessary to wet down said sand in the first place—and he, in turn, will need yet some other superhero power covering him while he does it (before transforming back into the ‘BIG-fig’ Hulk…who frankly isn’t all the bright so you can imagine where things start heading). In yet another raging battle outside the heavily-damaged edifice of the Stark Tower (in-game Iron Man/Stark, upon seeing the newly-smashed ‘STARK’-logo signage: “Aw, I just had that replaced!”), Spider-Man can use well-aimed/timed web shots to grab and manipulate objects that would otherwise be well out of reach.
While visually as cute and cartoonish as ever, the original story also features– from what we’ve seen–regular and generous servings of alternately sly, dry and just plain snarky humor, with lots of verbal back-and-forth between the plethora of protagonists and antagonists. Between the game’s large roster of strong, established characters, its interplay of unique mechanics and its sheer, ambitious scale, it is already looking like the most ambitious Lego title to date—newcomer-friendly to be sure, but definitely loaded with tons of referential winks and nods aimed at the long-time Marvel Comics fan.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes is slated to swing/fly/smash into action in Fall 2013.