I should love Lego Marvel Avengers. I’m a nerdy dude who really enjoys the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I’ve been building Lego since I could read the instructions. I even have a 1/2 scale Lego Yoda. I like a lot of it, I like the humor, I like just how much Marvel fan service they have in form of unlockable characters and vehicles. However beyond the slick presentation Lego Marvel’s Avengers is just a quick, digestible experience that Lego game fans will be satisfied with, but doesn’t justify the price tag for most gamers.
Lego Marvel’s Avengers does what it says on the tin. We start out at the prologue scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron rendered lovingly in Scandinavian children’s toys. From there we move through the first battle and subsequent levels as one of our six (later nine) primary heroes; Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Hulk. The combat works the same as previous Lego games, having you hammer the square button until the bad guys violently disassemble. Each of your brick based Avengers also has their own special move. Cap can throw his shield, Thor throws his hammer, Iron Man shoots a laser beam, and so on. Each Avenger’s special can also be combined with their teammates for a super move reminiscent of the movies’ best scenes, with Iron Man shooting his beam of Cap’s shield or Thor hitting it with a hammer.
These special moves also form half of the game’s puzzle system. Like past Lego games, when you find an obstacle your first move should be to break everything and see if you can build something when the pieces fail to disappear. Failing that there will be a switch, section of wall or trigger that requires the use of these moves. Thor needs to electrify panels, Black Widow sneaks by cameras and you would be surprised how often the bad guys set up switches that need to be activated by Captain America’s shield.
It’s a simple system that works well to bust up the combat which can get especially monotonous when you have to take down waves of enemies to move on. However, it can get quite frustrating if you look away from the screen and miss the “look over here it’s the easily missed thing that triggers the entire puzzle” camera pan, to the point where you’re wondering why this is in a children’s game.
From a story standpoint the game doesn’t take any dramatic left turns. The story mode takes you on a “just the highlights” tour of six Marvel movies, skipping most of the awkward Hulk/Widow love story for Lego fighting. The story is chock-full of fan service and humor, the wacky self-referential Lego jokes still hit and the goofy tone of the game’s cinematics had me laughing out loud several times.
Unfortunately when characters open their mouths, it’s a completely different story. Lego Marvel Avengers is at its heart a movie tie-in, so all the voiceover is ripped from the films, cut to make the scenes go quicker and edited so anything kid-unfriendly is absent. For example, Quicksilver is not hit by bullets, but ice cream. This chopping of movie audio sounds stilted and awkward in the story but it’s much worse in-game. Characters will throw out little quips in combat while doing special moves or after being killed and because they’re ripped from the movies they always sound out of place. Again, won’t bother your eight year old daughter or son, but after thirteen hours of it, my eyes were rolling pretty hard.
To go with Story Mode, there is a somewhat sizeable open-world with several areas to explore. You have Asgard, Sokovia, Washington DC, the Helicarrier and Manhattan at your disposal. It’s impressive to have this as such a large feature considering the target audience probably would have been satisfied with just the story missions. These open worlds are where you unlock the majority of the game’s characters as well as gather collectibles and resources that allow you to use cheats for replays of story mode.
I was actually surprised when I discovered the open world section. It’s very easy to just play through the Avengers I & II stories, completely missing open world content as well as the content from Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3. Traveller’s Tales might be well-served to draw a clearer line, especially considering the age range of their target market.
Once you find them however, there’s an impressive amount of stuff in these sandboxes. There are races, random crimes to stop and heroes to help every few feet. Unfortunately, stuff is not the same as content. While each of these little activities will give you a new Lego superhero to run around with, or a new ship to fly, the activities themselves wear quite thin after an hour or two. So, unless you’re a collectible junkie and hardcore completionist, you’ll probably run out of gas pretty quick.
Lego games have always handled collectibles strangely and Lego Marvel’s Avengers is no exception. All throughout the story missions, you’ll see shiny bricks, locked characters and *sigh* “Stan Lee in Peril” locations that you’re unable to interact with until you clear the game and come back with the right character. It’s like the game’s an etiquette teacher. “No no, you can’t break that cracked wall with Iron Man’s rockets! That wall only breaks with Thor’s Hammer! Don’t you know anything!?”
Lego Marvel Avengers is cute. It’s fun for a few hours, and definitely a game to buy your superhero crazy kids, nieces or nephews. If you love the other Lego games, then you’ve already bought this title and I’m just talking to the wall. If you didn’t enjoy past Lego titles then Lego Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t do enough for you to give it another shot.
Lego Marvel’s Avengers was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy sent to us by WB Games
Lego Marvel Avengers is cute fun with a familiar concept. Buy it for your kids if they want it, but don't break the bank for this iterative entry.