When I was a youngin’, I was quite used to my mother howling in pain after finding some of my loose Lego bits lodged in the soles of her feet. Hour and hours were spent creating wondrous things with no determined endgame. Occasionally, I’d have kits for various movie IPs, but almost always they all found themselves mixed in a bin to be combined into a future mashup masterpiece. Nowadays the fine folks at Traveller’s Tales allow me to continue playing with my childhood building blocks without being a weirdo that collects toys. Also, a lot less jumping around on one foot cursing those bricks’ existence.

Upon completing Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, the definitive Lego DC Comic game, Traveller’s Tales decided they hadn’t conquered enough and so Lego Marvel Super Heroes was born. Say what you want about the cash cow, but even as a practically annual release (sometimes with up to three games in one year) almost any multimedia franchise is made infinitely more fun and approachable by gamers of all ages and backgrounds. It in all honestly does not matter how much experience you have going into this one. If you played a Lego game before, you’ll know to keep an eye out for secret kits and that you’ll most certainly be playing through one or two more times as other characters. If you’re new to the series, well that’s what I’m here for.

The pitch of Lego Marvel Super Heroes was probably along the lines of “a bad thing happens and every single character in the Marvel universe fights to put things right.” Silver Surfer is being pursued by Iron Man and as anyone akin to the comics involving him, his presence on Earth is a death knell. Doctor Doom takes out Silver Surfer during this pursuit causing a fairly rough impact for both him and his board which shatters into extremely powerful bricks. The rest is the story is simply to attain said bricks. That’s it. But story was never Lego games’ strong suit. It’s the amount of detail painstakingly included.

155 playable heroes and villains. One-hundred and fifty-five! There are so many characters in this game, I don’t even know who a third of them are. Of course you have your Marvel staples like Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Spiderman and Cyclops. Villains too like Magneto, Doc Ock, Loki and Red Skull. Then there’s the very obscure ones that only die hard fans of the the comics will know like Mandarin or Aldrich Killian. Each character has their own special talents. Iron Man can fire missiles to destroy silver bricks, Hulk can grab and throw large objects that happen to be in your teams way and Cyclops’ laser can cut through gold bricks. There’s so many more useful abilities than just those though and I’ll let you discover them on your own. Obviously like previous Lego games you’ll be required to play as whoever they give you at the start of a mission, but for your second (or even third) play through, you’ll find plenty of variety in gameplay by making an epic duo of your choosing.

The setting of the game is perfect. Naturally taking place in New York City, you pretty much have free roam of the entire game world. Playing as a character that can fly? Try skydiving off the S.H.I.L.D. Helicarrier (a very long way down) and flying all the way back up. Essentially if you see it, you can get to it! Run on foot, snag a car or swing between buildings on your own silk strung web. You’ll explore several well known Marvel locales such as Stark Tower, The Daily Bugle and the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Many real life monuments like Grand Central Station and the Statue of Liberty find themselves full of battles between good and evil too. When in the New York City “hub, it’s great fun to wander through and discover side mission run-ins with characters like Deadpool, Blade and The Punisher; all unlockable mind you. Although much of the game is free roam, realize there still are cut scenes and loading screens to actually enter buildings and start missions. That being said, a lot of time can be killed just traversing the “hub”.

As much as I enjoyed Lego Marvel, it wasn’t without it’s flaws. Switching characters can cause frustration as on many occasions your computer controlled companions like to explore the more lethal areas of the world causing an instant death upon selection. This can be extremely annoying when you’ve collected several studs and find yourself in a death loop losing your hard earned lego currency.

An attempt at showing off depth in levels can get fairly annoying in the camera department as well. Walls, pillars and random objects become iron curtains for your characters to disappear behind in certain areas which can make moving forward in a level quite cumbersome for completionists insisting on attaining every secret unlockable in the game. Secrets of which there are a plenty. You’ll be spending hours, days and maybe even weeks searching every nook and cranny for collectible studs, gold bricks and Stan Lee cameos. In order to find every little thing, you’ll be very much inclined to return to story missions playing as other characters to access unreachable rooms during your first run through, a huge plus adding to the replay value of LEGO Marvel and why chances are you’ll keep this in your gaming library for many years to come.

by Matt Clements JR