Anyone who’s busted up their share of blocky bad guys, collected plastic studs aplenty, and unlocked every character from Gotham City to a galaxy far, far away probably knows what to expect from a LEGO game. While each new entry in Traveller’s Tales’ successful series does its part to tweak the tried-and-true template—whether by adding an open-world or a fully-voiced cast—they never stray too far from the franchise’s reliable formula.
The forthcoming LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is similarly playing it safe, following closely in the minifig footsteps of its predecessors. According to game director Arthur Parsons, though, what his team’s latest might lack in game-changing innovation, it more than makes up for in Marvel fan service. “The whole game revolves around personality. It’s basically our excuse to bring as many Marvel super heroes and super villains onto the screen and to a videogame as we possibly can. In effect, it’s equal to a kid having all these LEGO figures in a toy set and just playing.”
The main story—co-written by Marvel scribe Mark Hoffmeier—will see players kicking brick behind the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Spiderman through Marvel’s Manhattan (meaning it includes the metropolis’ most well-known landmarks, like Liberty Island, as well as fiction-supporting locales such as Stark Tower.) But these 20-plus primary characters barely scratch the spandex of the game’s 150-strong roster. The majority of the brimming Marvel cast is unlocked during both the campaign and free play mode. In fact, fans of more peripheral characters, from mainstream movie stars such as Ghost Rider to comic book cult faves like Howard the Duck, will probably have more fun fooling around in the latter as they will following the script of the former.
Nicholas Cage is really aging badly, wouldn't you say?
Stan Lee’s groupies, for example, won’t be able to unlock the comic book icon by simply sticking to the critical path. As Parsons explains, recruiting Spidey’s co-creator into your roster is one of the title’s most involved tasks. “We have 50 Stan Lee’s in various perilous situations. In one of them he drinks this toxic soda and transforms into Stan Hulk, and you end up having to beat him up; when you beat him up, he transforms back to Stan and he’s like ‘Excelsior, thank you!’, and off he runs. Once you’ve rescued all 50, you then get to unlock Stan as a playable character.”
While Stan’s fans could potentially get their money’s worth by repeatedly rescuing the silver-haired legend, Parsons explains how Punisher purists can help their favorite vigilante on an uncharacteristic quest. “Punisher has a really cool mission. We basically turned him into an environmental crusader, rather than a mass killer. So all the bad guys are driving around high pollution vans and he wants you to take the environmentally-friendly battle van to take them down.”
This doctor has a degree...in EVIL.
As this example makes abundantly clear—at the expense of The Punisher’s badass rep, no less—LEGO Marvel aims to retain the pop culture-skewering attitude of its predecessors, delivering an experience that tickles parents’ funny bones even as it blisters their kids’ thumbs. While I didn’t witness any of Frank Castle’s or Stan Lee’s LEGO-fied shenanigans during my demo, I did watch Mr. Fantastic transform into a tea pot. Working alongside Captain America, Mr. Reed Richards accessed various blocked areas—by also turning into a pair of bolt cutters as well as a screwdriver—while the Star-Spangled Avenger bested baddies with his shield. Parsons points out that the flexible Fantastic Four founder will also morph into an air traffic tower, a fire engine, and a wrecking ball over the course of the campaign.
Again, while the gameplay here isn’t particularly novel, it benefits nicely from the character-specific traits coupled with the series’ trademark humor. This magic mix also reveals itself when I see the Hulk shrink back into Bruce Banner’s body; the former can toss vehicles and buckle blacktop, while the latter can, well, pass through doors his angry alter-ego can’t fit through. More entertaining than the powers though, is seeing Hulk’s beefy biceps hung on Banner’s scrawny frame mid-transformation.
Batfleck's pre-Batfleck days.
If Wolverine dies in the game, he just turns into another Adamantium skeleton, but with Wolverine’s hair and sideburns.
As the Hulk and Abomination engage in an amusing slap fight outside of Sand Central Station (LEGO Marvel’s Sandman-infiltrated version of the NYC landmark), Parsons again stresses his studio’s focus on getting the cast just right. “Each of these characters is kind of like a distillation of that character. Wolverine, for example, is pretty much invulnerable to attacks and he regenerates. So, if he dies in our game, he just turns into another Adamantium skeleton, but with Wolverine’s hair and sideburns…you can run around and eventually he’ll regenerate back to a fully formed, healthy Logan. We’ve just tried to make sure every character is, above all, a visualization of what they should be.”
I’m looking forward to playing through this Marvel mash-up’s main story, but ditching the critical path to find Rocket Raccoon is what will keep me awake past the wee hours, ya know, when I’m not saving Stan Lee’s bacon for the 50th time.
Matt Cabral is a freelance writer for IGN. His superpower is being unbelievably nice. Seriously, you can't help but like this guy. You can follow him on Twitter.
Source : ign[dot]com