Both Ross and Sean weigh in on LEGO Marvel’s Avengers.
Sean Davies – Review Editor
Let’s get this out of the way with up front. LEGO Avengers is not a follow up to LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Sure, both games heavily feature Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the massive Manhattan world hub returns but that is where the similarities between the 2 games end. You see, while LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was based on the entirety of Marvels comic book characters, LEGO Avengers is not. It’s based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the two Avengers films – Assemble and Age of Ultron – taking centre stage. For fans of the MCU, you probably already know the limitations this imposes on the games pool of available characters. No Fantastic Four (Movie rights owned by Fox). No X-Men (also, owned by Fox). No Spider-Man (because even though he is to appear in the MCU, the web-slinger’s movie rights are still owned by SONY). No Deadpool (yep, Fox again). None of the characters that are related to any of these IP’s appear in the game. Thankfully, Marvel and Tt Games have made the most of what characters they do have access to. All of the Avengers are playable and all get their fair share of the limelight.
LEGO Avengers main story line follows the plot of Avengers Assemble and Age of Ultron, beginning with the assault on Baron von Strucker’s Sokovian base from the beginning of AoU before playing through Avengers Assemble from beginning to end. At first, this felt a little disjointed. Starting with the most recent Avengers movie only to flash back to Assemble and then back to AoU again felt odd, but after playing through the campaign it started to make sense. The start of Age of Ultron, where the whole gang is taking down Hydra, is the perfect place to introduce all of the Avengers and how their powers can be used in the game – and that is exactly what this first mission does. All of the staple LEGO games mechanics – Gold blocks melted by lasers, silver blocks destroyed by explosives, etc, etc – are explained in this first foray into the game to help new players get to grips with them. My 6-year-old sons friend who had never played a LEGO game before LEGO Avengers was helped along by an array of floating “A’s” which pop in to provide hints whenever the game thinks you might need a helping hand. These “A’s” appear whenever a new game play aspect is introduced or you have spent a little longer than the game expected trying to figure something out.
Clocking in at around 10 hours, the main campaign lets you re-tread the footsteps of Earths Mightiest Heroes, recreating the most memorable moments from their two ensemble films and throws in a few side missions from Iron Man 3, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World and even a flash back to Captain America: The First Avenger for good measure. Of course, as with any LEGO game these days, the main campaign is only a portion of what’s on offer with the “hub worlds” making up the rest – and Travelers Tales have gone all in with this aspect of LEGO Avengers. The mammoth Manhattan hub from LEGO Marvel Super Heroes makes a return (sans the Baxter Building, The X-Mansion, the Daily Bugle, etc) and is joined by a generous helping of separate, more compact hubs – Washington DC, Asgard, Sokovia, Malibu and even Hawkeyes farm are available to explore. Each Hub is packed full of side missions, fetch quests and collectables that will keep the obsessive/compulsive among us – *points to self* – busy for weeks.
Now, it would be too easy to say that LEGO Avengers is “just another LEGO game” and while it shares much of its DNA with its predecessors, there are some subtle differences between LEGO Avengers and its older brothers and sisters.
Firstly, there is the combat. For the first time (and I’ve played every Tt LEGO game to date) I struggled with the combat. It’s tough and enemies are often flooding into a screen to beat you up while you are trying to build something or complete a puzzle. To counteract that, the game has a “team up” system. Defeat a few enemies and a bar around your charters portrait fills and once it’s full, you can pull off a devastating attack combining the powers of the two Avengers currently under your control. Combining Hawkeye and Vision allows the pair to rain down quivered destruction around them. Buddy up Black Widow and Cap and they pull of the iconic shield leap-frog from the Avengers Assemble movie. These combo moves are brilliant but are poorly explained. I can’t remember ever seeing a dialogue box explaining how to trigger them and I was almost half way through the game before it became clear. I’d been mashing Square for so many hours before that…
Also, the combo meter returns in LEGO Avengers. Defeat enemies in quick succession and it adds a multiplier to any studs collected for a limited time. For those who like (or is my case, feel compelled) to unlock everything these games have to offer, each scrap can turn into a mini-challenge to beat foes up quickly and collect as many studs as possible in the aftermath. More studs means more unlocks players.
While many of the recent LEGO games have been relatively glitch free, LEGO Avengers is missing that extra polish and the bugs are showing. My characters got stuck in the environments a few times. A countdown clock of enemies I needed to defeat ceased to function meaning I had to restart the level. A side quest became impossible to complete because the quest giver (A-Bomb!) was standing on the marker I needed to reach. Some of the audio (lifted directly from the films) is dulled and full of static, like it was recorded while Chris Evans was taking a shower. Visually, LEGO Avengers looks splendid on the PS4 but it definitely needed more QA testing before it hit the shelves.
Even with these technical blemishes, it’s hard not to love LEGO Avengers and the smile plastered all over the face of my children when they are playing it says it all. The trademark slapstick humour and self-awareness that Traveller’s Tales inject into all of the LEGO games have had my family and I in fits of giggles and level of fan service here is incredible. Fans of the Marvel films and TV shows from all ages will find moments of hilarity to suit them – Clark Gregg AKA Agent Coulson stating he is too busy to help out because he is “recording lip synching videos to popular songs… for research, of course” made me laugh so hard, it gave me stitch. My son, on the other hand, likes it when LEGO people fall over or get hit with a LEGO chicken. We’re both catered for in LEGO Avengers.
TT Games set a high bar for themselves with LEGO Batman 3 and Jurassic World and it’s one that I don’t believe LEGO Avengers manages to reach. The number of glitches that have resulted in restarting a level, the occasionally duff audio clip, unexplained combat team-ups and the limited pool of characters (when compared to the previous LEGO Marvel game) mean that where this game has taken a step forward, it has taken a step backwards from previous titles. These flaws aside, LEGO Avengers is a family friendly, funny and enjoyable romp that will satisfy even the most hard-core MCU fan in terms of fan service.
Rossko Keniston – Games Editor
After reading Sean’s take on LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, I wanted to add a few thoughts.
I’ve been playing the game nigh-on non stop since last Friday and it’s become quite evident to me that TT Games have produced another strong, superbly fun outing in their unstoppable LEGO franchise. That they’ve taken our favourite moments of the two Avengers movies and smattered whatever it is in the LEGO fairydust they have over there and somehow made them even more entertaining is a testament to the talent over at TT Games. After the siege of LEGO Batman 3, LEGO Jurassic World, LEGO Dimensions and the proceeding Level Packs, I genuinely thought I had had just about enough of LEGO games to last me a lifetime – in the sense that they’re brilliant, but I needed to play something else. LEGO Marvel’s Avengers was on my radar but it wasn’t as exciting to me as whatever the next Level Pack would be for their brilliant toys-to-life game. Still, as the trailers appeared and more tidbits were appearing, it became clear that this was another huge project that was worth checking out, and I’m very glad I did.
After spending a few weeks thinking that I needed a break from the LEGO formula in my gaming, it turns out all I needed was a break from Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle. As great as Dimensions is, nothing beats tearing it around the Manhattan skyline as Iron Man, and after a couple years away from LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, it was about time I threw myself back in. LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is almost the ultimate TT Games LEGO experience. In the sense that it’s taking a story already told – or in this case, six or seven – and remixing almost everything to turn serious moments into hilarious sketches. Now, this is a LEGO game so nobody gets murdered or shot in the back by robots, instead they get attacked by ice-cream, which is quite hilarious how sad Hawkeye gets about Quicksilver being taken out by a load of the cold stuff. That being said, the LEGO version of Ultron is still rather creepy, with this adorable little character producing the terrifying voice of James Spader still ringing in my ears, I couldn’t look at him for too long for fear he would come and turn me into a pile of LEGO pieces at any moment.
Talking of the voiceovers, as Sean mentioned that they’re ripped straight from the movies can be a little jarring, although Clark Gregg and Cobie Smulders do appear to record some new lines for their respective characters (Agent Coulson and Maria Hill, respectively). Look out too for Ellie herself Ashley Johnson returning as Beth the Waitress, who was saved by Captain America in the first Avengers movie and had about two lines. She has plenty more here and is a great addition, further cementing the fact that TT Games really give a shit about those small details that will put a smile on the fans faces. It certainly did mine. Though I’m rather in love with Ashley Johnson. I digress..
My ultimate highlight (bar the fantastic hub worlds which I’ve spent hours finishing up) is the Age of Ultron levels, particularly Korea Prospects, where Black Widow, her trusty motorbike and Cap America are kicking the crap out of Ultron on a seemingly endless street road. I’ve never been so on the edge of my seat playing a LEGO level before, the whole sequence is blisteringly brilliant. The introduction of Scarlet Witch to proceedings makes the level all the more exciting, and without a single framedrop, technically, well, it’s a marvel.
I share the same issues with the game that Sean has mentioned, whilst adding that the controls and general handling of the characters and the vehicles are still pretty dire, the LEGO ‘engine’ still feels stiff and how they’ve managed to make the environments so damn unco-operative is a wonder in itself. Figuring out what you need to do in any given level can be a joyless experience (I’m looking at you, first half of Avengers Assemble), especially when endless waves of enemies are following you everywhere you go, and you simply have to stand in the correct spot on a huge circular pad in order to activate its function. Technically, Avengers still suffers in the same way that most of these games seem to do, with a little bit of ‘ack, nobody will notice, they’re going to be having too much fun enjoying the sight-gags and cute animation’. There’s plenty to love about Avengers, but how these issues are still present after being noticed in LEGO Harry Potter is truly beyond me. A little spit and polish would have done this game the world of good. Still, there’s a ton of fun to be had and though LEGO Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t reach the heights of LEGO Batman 3 or even LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, it’s still a terrific tour de force of these characters and movies we love (yes, even Age of Ultron). The sheer value for money makes this a worthy purchase, and with the upcoming Ant-Man DLC and the Season Pass, you’ll be playing this for a long, long time to come.
Well, until LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens appears. Excelsior!
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Brothers
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is out now on PS4 (version reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PSVita and 3DS.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided a copy of the game from the publisher.