Week 4 of #52Games52Weeks and Sean tackled the Earth’s Mightiest building blocks.

Game: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Brothers

It’s almost an obsession at this point. “I must get the Platinum trophy for every LEGO game…” and I’m pretty close to scratching that itch with only 4 games left on my “to-do list”. I’ve started LEGO Hobbit with my wife – she loves Tolkien and all his works so we are playing it in co-op. I have LEGO Star Wars 3 sitting in my pile of shame. I’ve not taken the leap down the LEGO Dimensions rabbit hole just yet (my wallet couldn’t take it) but will soon. And then there is LEGO Marvel’s Avengers that launched this week.

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t unlock that Platinum trophy for TT Games’ latest bricktastic adventure this week but I did complete the main story line, all of the side missions and managed to reach 74.8% completeness . A few more days and I will have added it the list of LEGO games that I have unlocked the Platinum trophy for, satisfying that obsessive/compulsiveness bent for a short while at least.

Ross and I teamed up (much like the characters in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers do in the game) to write a review for the game, which you can read here, so I’m not going to bore you by re-writing what we wrote there. Instead, I’m going to try to explain why I love the LEGO games and why I spend so much time playing them.

My wife an I have spent more time with the LEGO Harry Potter games than we ever dare admit...

My wife an I have spent more time with the LEGO Harry Potter games than we ever dare admit…

After playing 14 LEGO games – from Harry Potter to LEGO Chima, Ninjago and the LEGO Batman games – you would think I would be bored with the formula that TT Games have built and use for every one of their games. I was recently asked “Don’t you get tired of doing the same things with just different characters?” and the honest answer was “No, not even slightly”.
The truth is, I’m a 29-year-old father to 4 and as such, the time I get to play the more adult orientated games – the Resident Evil’s and Call of Duty’s of the world – is limited to between the hours of “All of my kids are in bed” and “Oh damn. The sun’s coming up. Better get an hour of sleep before work”. I’m spending less and less time playing shooters, survival horrors and mature action/adventure games in favour of games that are far more family orientated.

In steps TT Games and the LEGO Games.

The LEGO series is something quite rare these days. In years gone by, almost every movie blockbuster had a tie-in game. GI Joe. Captain America. Thor. Batman Begins. X-Men: Origins – Wolverine. Family friendly animated flicks would get a by-the-numbers game shoved out the door to make a quick buck. Mega Mind. How to train your Dragon. Up. Monsters vs. Aliens. It was licencing-gone-mad and the vast majority of these games were sub-par, thrown out there to capitalise on the hype.

While there are still some movie tie-in or licensed IP games being released on consoles today (Alien: Isolation, Shadow of Mordor, Disney Infinity) it’s not as common as it once was – except for the LEGO Games. TT Games and their sister studio TT Fusion have pumped out multiple games per year based on movie franchises or original LEGO sets and by enlarge, they have all been brilliant in their own special way.

It’s my belief that the LEGO games have become such a huge success because they really know their audience – probably better than most other studio that create big budget games at least. They’ve mastered that “universal appeal” factor that so many movie/IP tie-in games failed to acknowledge in the past.

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Let’s take LEGO Marvel’s Avengers as an example. This is smart licensing from the start. A game that re-treads the two tent-poll movies of the second biggest cinematic series in history, built from the world’s most popular building block system. The game could be terrible (it’s not – read the review) and it would sell a bucket load because of the names on the box alone – but it’s how TT Games use the characters, tell the story and subtly expand on its source material with fan service that make these games really enjoyable for a diverse group of people.

There are moments in LEGO Avengers that had my kids and I laughing but for entirely different reasons. (MILD AVENGERS ASSEMBLE SPOILER AHEAD). In the Avengers Assemble movie, Hawkeye and a bunch of troops mount an assault on the SHIELD helicarrier to release Loki. It’s a serious moment as Hawkeye proves his skill by firing an explosive arrow into one of the propellers of the flying HQ. The LEGO Avengers alternative – where Hawkeye’s arrow fly’s off in a different direction all together before ricocheting around and eventually hitting a LEGO bird which falls into the spinning fan – is hilarious and had both my kids and I in fits of giggles. It’s this slap stick humour, with its tongue pressed firmly into its cheek, that my children love.
Then there is the fan service. Not too long ago, Clark Gregg AKA Agent Phil Coulson and Hayley Atwell AKA Agent Peggy Carter went head to head in a Lip Sync Battle for charity. This real world event appears in the game via some new dialogue recorded for the game. While patrolling the Manhattan hub world, Agent Coulson will ask you to fight crime like beating down a purse snatcher or something similar and says he’s too busy to help because he’s “recording lip syncing videos to popular songs… for research of course”. The first time I heard this line, this “in joke”, I laughed *so hard*. Of course, my kids didn’t see the funny side but that’s the magic of the LEGO games – they cater for such a wide variety of people of different ages and backgrounds.

This is true of almost all of the TT Games. LEGO Jurassic World was a hit with my eldest son who was – and still is – obsessed with Claire, Owen and the Indominus Rex, while I enjoyed playing through the Jurassic Park movies that I have grown up watching. Yes, even The Lost World. The LEGO Batman games have always been a massive hit with my brood, playing in co-op and “accidentally” blowing each other up. The LEGO Movie game was just as AWESOME as the film (which still gets watched on an almost weekly basis – I still laugh at “SPACESHIP!”). Playing “Pass the Vita when you die” on LEGO Chima with my twins. LEGO Ninjago. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. LEGO Lord of The Rings. LEGO Harry Potter. LEGO Pirates. LEGO Star Wars. These have all been shared experiences that I have played (and laughed) through with my wife, my children or my friends and it’s because of one main aspect that TT Games have almost perfected – accessibility.

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The LEGO games are “easy”. You can’t “die”. At least not permanently. You instantly respawn sans a thousand or so studs that you can re-collect if you’re quick. You obviously don’t want to die (“studs means prizes” as Bruce Forsyth will tell you, or something like that) but my kids enjoy the LEGO games because they can make progress on their own without too much threat. My wife loves the LEGO games because of the fan service they pay to films that she loves (mainly Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) and she knows the formula – that silver blocks are destroyed with explosives, handles are pulled by rope, gold is melted with lasers or heat, etc. – so she can drop in and out of a game with ease. I love the LEGO games because I get to share my passion for gaming with my family without having to do it in the middle of the night. It’s familiar. It’s accessible. It’s funny and enjoyable. Are the games repetitive? Sure, sometimes, but nothing beats high-fiving you kids after defeating LEGO Ultron or that knowing smile of accomplishment my wife shoots my way when she crosses a LEGO bridge without falling off (it’s the only thing that ever gives her trouble. She hates bridges. Don’t ask). I don’t think that something I will ever get tired of.

With the announcement of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I already know what game my family and I will be playing for the #52Games52Weeks entry at the end of June and between now and then, I will most likely be tackling some of the other LEGO games I have still yet to conquer – but I won’t be doing it alone.

For first time visitors, Sean is attempting to finish 52 games in 52 weeks and is trying to blog something insightful about each one. You can see all the games on this feed or follow the links below:

Week 1 – X-Men: Destiny
Week 2 – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Week 3 – LA Noire