While a fun time for Marvel fans and young kids, some glaring character omissions and odd level pacing makes the brick-built world of LEGO Marvel’s Avengers feel like it’s missing a few pieces.
Developed by Traveller’s Tales and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers builds on the successes of previous titles the team has released in the past decade while adding a few new wrinkles to the familiar action/puzzle-solving gameplay formula. The game follows the plot to a handful of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While some films get their own levels (with a really condensed plot), levels focusing on scenes from other Marvel movies are cut into the plot of the Avengers films. I get that LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is meant to focus on the MCU, but the original story told in 2013’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes felt much more cohesive.
Speaking of previous games, there are a lot of fan-favorite characters not included in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers that were around the last game. Gone are the X-Men, Spider-Man, and Deadpool, whose movie rights are all owned by studios other than Marvel’s parent company Disney. Instead, there are 200+ characters to collect with an array of powers that make up for old standbys. Where Jean Grey used to be on my team for her telekinesis and mind control, I now rely on Scarlet Witch; it’s not that big of a deal, but kids may be asking why they can’t play as Spider-Man or his web warrior buddies. This may be resolved with the upcoming Captain America: Civil War DLC, but we’ll have to wait and see for now.
My favorite feature of the previous game in the series, the huge open-world hubs, have returned in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. In addition to Manhattan, players can also roam around Asgard, Malibu, and Hawkeye’s farm as seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. These worlds are filled with things to do, from racing down streets and finding character tokens to completing quests for other heroes and stopping a purse snatcher or two. There’s so, so much content that completionists will still have plenty to do after they wrap up the main storyline.
With so many brick baddies to smash, it’s a good thing that LEGO Marvel’s Avengers has introduced a new team-up attack mechanic. Whereas combat in previous LEGO games consisted of little more than button mashing, individual characters now have access to “finishers” that can dispatch enemies quickly. After building up your meter, while close to a fellow hero, characters can team up to perform spectacular team moves that can clear crowds of bad guys in one move. For example, when Captain America partners with Black Widow, he launches her into the air with his shield so that she can blast enemies surrounding them with her twin blasters. Discovering these team-up moves makes even obscure characters in the roster viable partners, if only to see what they’ll do next.
Sure, you can play the whole of LEGO Marvel’s Avengers alone, but playing with others adds a whole new layer of fun to the mix. The game features local co-op play, but no online mode (STILL?!?!) to team up with friends and save the world. Another aspect that bugs me is the inclusion of movie audio in the game alongside newly recorded voice work by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell). Commissioning the film’s actors to record new audio would have cost a fortune, but like last year’s LEGO Jurassic World, hearing the familiar actors’ voices come out of their respective minifigures takes me out of the world. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes’ consistency and high quality served as a great way to maintain immersion.
A quick side note: as this is a LEGO game, parents needn’t worry about some of the more violent aspects of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One particular scene in The Avengers, for example, where Bruce Banner talks about his “party trick” after some dicey dialogue, is covered in charming LEGO form as an actual party trick. It’s little things like that that makes LEGO Marvel’s Avengers and other LEGO titles from Traveller’s Tales enjoyable for the entire family to experience at once.
If you can look past the characters held back due to red tape and gameplay features that are still not part and parcel in 2016 (online co-op, por favor), LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is a worthwhile game to add to your collection. Parents and players looking for a title with tons of replay value, particularly fans of the Marvel films, will definitely want to assemble and give this one a go.
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Steam, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita.