When it comes to the LEGO video games, you're almost always playing as the heroes. Titles like Lego Batman offer up playable heroes and villains, but still mainly focus on heroes. Now, the villains are finally getting their time to shine. LEGO DC Super-Villains gives the villains their own spotlight. Is their game villainously good, or as bad as the characters featured?
The name of LEGO DC Super-Villains is customization, and before you can start the game you'll be making a custom character that will play a central role in the story. Over time this character, who will go by the name Rookie, gains new abilities and tools. From the start, there's already a large swath of items and colors so you can make Rookie look exactly like you want. Furthermore, every single time Rookie gains a new ability, you can edit what that looks like. It's really cool that the custom characters have been overhauled from picking a few parts, and that one even plays a central role in the story.
As for the story, LEGO DC Super-Villains opens up with your character in, where else, prison. After springing an escape with none other than Lex Luthor, the Justice League show up to stop them. Then something strange happens. A second team of superheroes shows up. Calling themselves the Justice Syndicate of Earth-3, this strange band of Justice League knock-offs helps defeat the villains, then promptly turns on and causes the Justice League to disappear. What are their plans for Earth? Where did the Justice League go? And what is the deal with the Rookie and their ability to absorb powers?
All of this makes for a surprisingly interesting plot. It's not particularly deep (this is a LEGO game after all), but it's more than enough to keep me going through the campaign. It does a great job in actually feeling like a comic book plotline. Each character and revelation thoroughly entertained me. It helps that LEGO DC Super-Villains is a funny game. I laughed at jokes more than once, both elaborate setups that play out over the course of a mission or simple visual gags. Either way, I had more laughs than someone on Joker's laughing gas. This gets a big boost from some fantastic voice acting. The all-star cast, including greats like Mark Hamil and Kevin Conroy, always turns in a fantastic performance.
However, there are a couple of plot points that feel like they just get passed over or forgotten about. The first level focuses entirely on Lex breaking Metallo out of prison for some sort of villainous scheme. Metallo then promptly vanishes, and this plan is never mentioned again. Likewise, Rookie's power absorption skills never get an explination despite several characters making a big deal of the mystery. It almost feels like a set up for a totally different plot that the characters all forget about.
Each level sees you going through simple puzzle and platforming challenges to get to the end of it. You get a set of two to five characters, each with their own unique ways to interact with the environment. Some have lasers that melt gold objects. Others can use telekinetic abilities to build from a distance. Some characters still have the ability to convince henchmen to follow their orders. Usually, each character in the game has a handful of skills that you'll get a chance to use.
The puzzles themselves aren't very challenging. No matter which way you look at it, LEGO DC Super-Villains is still a kids game. The game always flat out tells you what powers you need to solve something, and often will automatically switch to the proper character. When a puzzle requires something like unscrambling a picture, the game will flat out highlight which brick you need to move if you take too long. Still, it's nice solving these puzzles and watching the Lego do some crazy reassembly because of what you did.
Combat hasn't really changed much from the last few games. You have a basic attack and can get through nearly every fight by smashing the attack button. However, there is a multiplier system that encourages you to change it up a bit. By varying it up with grapples, ranged attacks, ground slams, and more, you'll build up a multiplier that rewards you with more studs after you finish combat. It's not a game changer, but I did find myself doing more than pressing the attack and breezing through encounters.
You also need to change things up for the game's many boss fights. Most of them are on the simple side, requiring you to just dodge attacks or solve simple puzzles to create openings. There are a few that are just straight up slug-fests, but they're easily the weakest of the bunch. I do appreciate how many bosses have different ways you can hurt them. For example, an early fight against Batgirl allows you to dodge her jump attack and then hit her while she's stunned. Or, you can use Catwoman to rush her while she's throwing batarangs.
However, some of the boss fights drag out far too long. The clearest example is when Shazam and Mazahs team up to fight you. The game has you fight Mazahs, who has quite a bit of health. Then, as soon as you beat him, you have to fight Shazam who has the exact same health, attacks, and fighting style. There's no real reason to make you fight the same boss twice in a row, and many fights move into surprise second rounds that rarely felt necessary.
After you finish the story mode, which took me around 10 hours, you unlock the Justice League campaign. This is a bonus five mission arc that doubles as a story told by Lobo about what happened to the Justice League when they were captured. It's a much shorter campaign that only lasts a couple of hours, but it's a really neat bonus. It's especially worth it for Lobo's narration of the events alone, as the character is rather hilarious. You also gain the ability to replay the story levels with any character, allowing you access to even more areas for collectibles.
You also can play in the game's open world. There's plenty to do in LEGO DC Super-Villains. Fans of Lego games are ready to hunt down hundreds of collectible items and characters. Thankfully, unlike LEGO The Incredibles, you'll never find yourself forced to do repetitive side quests to advance the game, or even just to travel. However, exploring the worlds of Gotham, Metropolis, and Smallville will give you plenty to do. One side quest saw me helping The Ventriloquist repair his puppet Scarface, while another saw me assisting Vixen with a photo shoot in a swamp. There's also races, hidden objects, optional boss fights, statues you can deface with graffiti, and more. If you're going for 100% then you can probably spend 35 to 40 hours on the game.
This is assuming you don't run into any glitches along the way. Thankfully most of the ones I ran into weren't so severe. A partner AI might trap itself in the world, forcing me to swap characters to continue. In other cases, enemies just stare at walls in a confused stupor. However, I ran into a few situations worse than minor combat bugs. The game crashed on me on a few occasions. Once, my character got stuck in the geometry and the only way to free him was to reset the game. Seeing these issues sucks, but the frequent autosaves ensured that I never lost too much progress.
When I originally tried the game at E3 I was pleased to find LEGO DC Super-Villains was well worth playing. Playing the full game met those high expectations. A delightfully evil romp through the world of LEGO that takes some real love in all things DC, and in all things villainous. It's not without its issues, but for those looking for an enjoyable experience then look no further.
TechRaptor reviewed LEGO DC Super-Villains on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
While I doubt it will convince those bored of LEGO games otherwise, LEGO DC Super-Villains is a fun entry into the series that embraces its evil side for something a little more interesting than normal.
- Funny Writing
- Interesting Plot
- Smart Multiplier System
- Tons of Post Story Content
- Great Voice Acting
- Few Plot Strings Go Nowhere
- Some Bosses Take Too Long
- Occasional Glitches