Marvel Mash-Up Madness
A lot has happened in the Marvel pop culture universe since the first Lego Marvel Super Heroes was released back in 2013. Developer Traveller’s Tales has tightened their Lego brand of video games, testing out small new features while mostly sticking to the tried-and-true formula of taking a popular franchise and putting a whimsical spin on it with insane block-building mechanics and plenty of collectibles to sniff out and studs to amass. Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 has the luxury of not being confined to a movie script, thus allowing flexibility for the creative team. Though certain legalities have kept some prized heroes and villains out of the cast, the remaining 236 of them will keep you entertained.
The Avengers, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy crew hog a fair share of the spotlight during the Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 campaign. However, a sizeable roster of lesser known characters make appearances, staying true to their comic book heritage and providing plenty of nods for the most avid Marvelphiles to gush over. Unfortunately, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool, all Fox owned brands, are noticeably absent. Even Hulk (to my five-year-old son’s dismay) has eluded the brunt of the game, with She-Hulk filling his spot for the campaign. Iron Man has also taken a backseat, acting more as technical support back at the Avengers mansion and a New York City tour guide, rather than the lead on the front line. But this has opened our arms to embrace other interesting characters, like Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, and the Wasp, all whom bring their A-game to the campaign and become instantly memorable.
As expected, the story goes that the world is in the clutches of an evil supervillain, this time Kang the Conqueror. He does a fantastic job exuding power and dominance while tossing maniacally hilarious announcements out at the citizens of Chronopolis, the hub world of Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 . Your new sprawling playground is not the bland concrete skyscrapers of Manhattan of the first game. Here, Kang has carved out slices of history and alternate realities and smashed them together into one gloriously diverse open-world sandbox. Not one, but four Manhattans can be found: a modern style, a film noir throwback version, a futuristic 2099 recreation, and an alternate Manhattan mutated by Hydra. Toss in a section of medieval England, the American Old West, ancient Egypt, the underwater city of Lemuria, and a post-apocalyptic Asgard, and you’re always a hop, skip, and flight away from a different and interesting side mission.
Puzzles, races, character missions, and other tasks are sprinkled throughout Chronopolis, all granting you gold bricks and new heroes and villains to swap between as you wander around. None of the challenges, both in the campaign and around the hub, prove too difficult, but they are creative and enjoyable nonetheless. The hardest puzzle I found in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 was trying to figure out how to prevent a game breaking glitch from happening during a boss battle that caused Mordo to be permanently encased in a force field, and thus unable to be defeated. There were a few other troublesome bugs, such as random game crashes while exploring Chronopolis, Gold Bricks that remain incorporeal even after completing the objective, and characters skydiving through an endless fog after returning to the campaign from the lackluster 4-player arena mode. Hopefully an early patch will clean up these bugs, as some are frustrating roadblocks.
As in past Lego video games, each character has specific abilities to tackle exclusive puzzles. However, unlike previous iterations where character skills are limited to two or three, most of the cast members in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 are loaded with versatility. For example, Rocket, that lovable raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy , can destroy silver objects with grenades, shoot beams of electricity to charge panels, dig up items in dirt piles, use acrobatic skills, track hidden items, interact with technology panels, and repair damaged machines. That’s a lot for one little anthropomorphized procyonid. Practical use of these skills to solve problems requires little more than button prompts and enemies and bosses amount to button-mashing, but each character has their own unique visual spin. A typical character may just piece individual Lego bricks together to build a structure, whereas Doctor Strange spins them all together in a magical vortex. Spider-Man and Kid Colt can both tug out of reach handles, but Spidey slings his webs at them, while Kid Colt uses a lasso.
This sort of individual detail is a joyous tribute to the Marvel brand and a nod to the astonishing work the Traveller’s Tales design team performs to recreate a world and all its moving parts using the vast collection of Lego bricks. Even the individual touches to each character’s personality while standing around, such as Black Panther chasing a mouse and Thor playing catch with his hammer, are great examples of the creative team’s extra effort. There is a somewhat jarring distinction between the structures and environments that are Lego-made and those that are not, but even the juxtaposed look is well crafted, as are all the lighting and elemental effects.
Most of the generic sounds in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 are pulled directly from Traveller’s Tales audio archives, such as noises heard when building gadgets and collecting studs or bricks. It would be nice to see these stock sounds evolve, but there is a certain nostalgia associated with them. The music score befits any Marvel action movie found on the silver screen and works well with all the block-busting destruction throughout the entirety of the game. The voice acting is pitch perfect in some instances and generic in others. The voice work for Kang is especially plausible, as are Thor’s melodramatic thespian utterances, and Spider-Man’s boyish nuisances play well against the dour supervillains. Star-Lord and Captain America were two notable characters who simply didn’t fit the tone and attitude we’ve grown accustomed to with their Hollywood counterparts. Also, while most of the script flows nicely through the speakers, certain scenes come through loud, hoarse, and scratchy, as if done by two different editing teams.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 contains a diverse cast of thoughtfully created superheroes and supervillains, a fun-filled hub with many unique and interesting sites to explore, and a free-flowing campaign not bound by a movie script. The lacking Fox franchises don’t hamper the experience. What does, however, are the numerous glitches, many of which stunt the progression of the game, and the disjointed voice and sound editing work. The technical bugs will undoubtedly be fixed and, when accomplished, this will be an epic, fun, and laughter filled way to enjoy the wonderful mashing together of Lego and Marvel.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The blocky vs. realistic styles may seem an odd blend, but everything looks high-scale and exudes big budget. An extra nod goes to all the personal touches to each member of the robust roster. 4.4 Control
The button prompts and mashing technique makes Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 easy for everyone to pick up and play. The dual-stick flight mechanics are an improvement from past Lego games, but the camera still gets lost or constrained at times. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There is great musical score and solid voice acting for some, but recycled sound effects and disingenuous voice acting from others are also present. 3.8 Play Value
There is a wonderful campaign full of epic Lego action and spontaneous combustion of laughter, however it is hampered by several egregious glitches and some missing memorable characters. 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best