TT Games has made a lot of LEGO video games. After a while, it's reasonable to think that it would be a tired concept. Just take a franchise and slap some bricks in there and call it a day, right?

Friend, you best play with some LEGOs. TT Games' newest foray, LEGO Marvel Superheroes, takes conventions from the earliest iterations of the series and melds it with new techniques and ideas. And, man, it is fun.

The story is a fairly simple one. Galactus, devourer of worlds (and owner of one ridiculous get up), sends the Silver Surfer to Earth to herald his arrival. Iron Man chases the alien visitor but the Surfer is knocked out of the sky by Doctor Doom. The Silver Surfer's board shatters into several Cosmic Bricks which fall all over the world. Naturally, the villains, headed by Loki and Doctor Doom, want the LEGO MacGuffin to build Doctor Doom's "Doom Ray of Doom" to stop Galactus and rule the planet. SHIELD calls on the heroes of the Marvel Universe to stop the villains and keep Galactus from eating the Earth with a nice Chianti.

Like in LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes, the characters talk, as opposed to earlier games such as LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones, which conveyed the plot through pantomime. The voice acting is well done, although it's a bit odd at first to hear anyone other than Robert Downey Jr. voice Iron Man.  Clark Gregg reprises his role as Phil Coulson, however, and even Stan Lee lends his voice to his likeness (Come on, it's Marvel, of course Stan Lee is in it). The humor is fairly solid as well, although it's a little more serious than its predecessors.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes eschews online play. Instead, you'll need a buddy to play local co-op. In a gen where online play is the norm, it's fun to have someone beside you for a change. You will laugh, argue, and generally have a pleasant romp through the LEGO-ified MCU.

That isn't to say the game is free of issues. Unfortunately, the camera will occasionally get stuck, hiding an important piece of the level. I had to manhandle the camera in order to see what I was doing and it was usually when there was a puzzle that required precision. This problem may be caused by the vertical split-screen. I accepted the superiority of horizontal split screen long ago and the fact that the game doesn't offer the option to switch seems a little archaic, especially considering the fact that the dimensions of TVs lean more towards widescreen nowadays.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes functions like all of the previous LEGO video games. Almost everything in the environments is destructible and wailing on unfortunate LEGO bricks will bequeath precious studs, which you'll need if you want to purchase characters. The wanton destruction also allows players to build new LEGO pieces from the remnants of previous structures which rewards the player with more studs and acts as a puzzle-solving mechanic.

If you've played LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes, you'll notice some similar game mechanics. Fire-based characters can destroy gold bricks, rocket-using characters can destroy silver bricks, characters that can fly in the comics can fly in the game, and larger characters can manipulate objects that are too big for other characters to handle. That isn't to say that Marvel doesn't bring anything new to the table. The 155 character roster brings new abilities with it, and no two characters play exactly the same.

However, due to the large cast, you may not know how a character's abilities work at first. The game does its best to explain without holding your hand, but it falls to the player to experiment to figure out a particular character's limits.

You'll have plenty of opportunity to do so in the massive LEGO Manhattan and SHIELD helicarrier hub. The hub offers plenty of side quests and collectibles. On the downside, the Manhattan section is so huge, it's annoying to traverse without a flying character or one that can cross large distances quickly like Spider-Man. In addition, it's best to finish the campaign first before exploring and replaying previous levels. Like other LEGO games, there are character-specific puzzles and obstacles hidden in the levels and it's impossible to complete these optional objectives unless you've unlocked that character in the roster. On the plus side, the campaign is fairly short; most of the value of LEGO games come from the optional content and replay value that they offer.

All in all, LEGO Marvel Superheroes is great to play at any age, especially with a friend. The issues with it are trifling and won't detract too much from the experience. If you're looking for pure fun, Marvel has you covered.


Final Score: 6/10

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