TT Games and Warner Bros. are back with the latest LEGO game which by now sees the developers reaching well into double figures with the LEGO franchise. Cue LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 which is a sequel to the previous game (released October 2013) although not directly as this is a new adventure. On this occasion there is a time based theme where the evil Kang the Conqueror has invaded Earth and placed various zones in close proximity to each other with the aim of total destruction. This is a perfect excuse for all the Marvel characters across the universes to come together and fight back in the aptly named city of Chronopolis. Interestingly it’s the themed zones which make the game rather than the content within the story and perhaps if you are a dab hand at these games then you will find very little that deviates from a well-trodden tried and trusted formula TT pumps out with each release.
In a nutshell, players dive into the story which after a neat intro sequence featuring The Guardians of the Galaxy characters in full effect, the game starts proper. It’s here where players can freely roam the open world zones which comprise of various Marvel universes including bite-sized Noire New York, Asgard, Neo Manhattan, Medieval, Ancient Pyramids and more. It’s rather cool being able to traverse the land and have the theme change on the fly with no loading screens, it’s also neat being able to activate maps which reveal tasks and challenges for each area – of which there are plenty. Players can then sink their time into hunting for collectibles, finding Stan Lee, taking on side-missions and much more. This aspect of the gameplay can’t be faulted and is an explorers paradise, the themed zones simply keep things interesting compared to the singular NYC of the previous game. TT has in a way perfected the open world exploration and side missions and in itself should be the main focus, except it isn’t and somewhere the story has to fit in. Unfortunately, the story is the weakest section of the overall experience and after so many levels (there are around 30) begins to grate.
Sadly for our heroes Kang the Conqueror has to be dealt with, which means wading through a large selection of story missions with set characters. It’s neat being able to choose a team and decide which order you will complete missions but the end result is usually the same. That is, the same as we have seen time and time again in the LEGO games. The formula relies on moving through the stages jumping and beating up any AI that get in the way, use individual hero abilities to progress or solve puzzles, then finish off with a boss battle. Sadly, some of the puzzles might leave you wondering what to do and in some cases there might be a minor sparkle you missed which is the missing piece of the puzzle. The vagueness here is awful and in some instances pad throwing inducing. This complaint has been made at previous titles and yet TT are quite happy to ignore these and carry on business as usual. Well, it scores no points in doing so and simply makes the game feel like it’s being elongated for no specific reason. Those with less patience might quit completely or opt to use a guide from Youtube which is just poor design.
As for the boss encounters of which there is usually one featured in each stage in some form or another. These could have been rather cool moments but instead are overly drawn out and begin to grate. On one side there are AI minions who attack the player controlled character only, leaving team AI to simply stand around doing very little which is frustrating to say the least. This is made worse by the fact the enemy constantly respawn with no limits. On the other side, the bosses themselves take too many hits to drop and enter modes where they are shielded before they take damage until a set action is performed. Coupled with non-existent hit detection when pummeling them with fists and it’s a mix of tiring repetition that doesn’t let up.
If you can get past the horrible bosses then yes the story features some great cutscenes which showcase moments from more recent Marvel movies. These are excellent with plenty of neat touches to look out for. It’s a shame players are forced to play through a load of nonsense to see them. Perhaps describing the stages as nonsense is a little harsh but patience is very much tested in the story mode. Therefore LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 can be viewed as a game of two halves with the main story being the least impressive of the two (aside from the cutscenes).
In terms of visuals these can’t be faulted either with excellent looking models and cool lighting/shadow effects. One moment sees you face off against Mr Big “Kingpin” with headlights from his vehicle literally blinding you which looks fantastic when playing on brighter displays even in the absence of HDR. The operation runs smoothly as well although appears to be locked down to 30 fps on consoles (including Xbox One X), it’s a massive improvement over LEGO Ninjago though. Audio is also quality with a funny script and great performances from the voice-over cast who mimic the original actors very well.
LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 doesn’t fall short on content and despite the elongated moments in the story mode, there is plenty to do post credits. With more unlocks to strive for via challenges, free-play, character customization, collectibles and some 236 characters to hunt down, players can lose themselves with what is offered here and will certainly get their monies worth. Aside from solo play, there is an option to team up locally for drop in and out two player co-op which is always a handy option if any viewing players have itchy hands. A battle arena mode is also present which allows players to take the fight with up to four localized players in split-screen for the ultimate battle-royale experience. AI opponents can also be selected as well if you are low on human players.
LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 is a fun game to play in places and in others seems to be rolling through the motions with no deviation to set it apart from previous offerings. Sure, the formula might work and offer an expected experience some fans will want, but a lack of thinking outside the box makes for a dull experience at times, especially versus the assortment of cookie cutter bosses. Vague puzzles or objectives also hurt the story experience testing the player’s patience to the full, but it’s the free-roaming of Chronopolis where the game really shines. Still, overall this is a heavily packed title with lots to see and do which means fans will likely have a whale of a time unlocking everything. Non fans will no doubt also appreciate the nods to the movies, quirky humor and ease of play.