Price: £39.99 Platform: Xbox One (version reviewed), PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC Available: Now
It seems a long time since the first LEGO Star Wars franchised games were released and, after over a decade and what must be more than 20 titles, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 has been released to tap into the Christmas market and find its way into many a stocking.
The underlying engine and therefore gameplay remains unchanged and anyone who has played a LEGO franchise game before, or even LEGO City Undercover, will know to expect; a mix of battles, building, puzzle solving and the humorous cutscenes that have been the staple of these games since their inception.
The game is set four years on from its predecessor and the storyline (which was cowritten by Marvel’s own Kurt Busiek) centres around Kang the Conqueror who is travelling through different timelines and realities to kidnap the most famous cities and relocate them in a place he calls Chronopolis.
It’s the time travelling and alternate realities that starts to give LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 its depth as it has allowed the developers to pull together a line-up of iconic Marvel Super Heroes and Super Villains from different eras. The lineup is impressive and includes the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and the list goes on. As if this wasn’t enough, the game also includes Iron Duck (Howard the Duck in Iron Man’s armour) and Carnom – Venom meets Carnage creating a character that is exclusive to the game. There is clearly a lot to get through and I have had to write this review in the knowledge that I have several hours of gameplay ahead of me if we are going to unlock the wealth of characters available in this game.
And then there’s the depth of locations – the game is spread across 18 different Marvel realms including K’un-L’un, Attilan, a Hydra empire, a Marvel Noir version of New York City, Knowhere, Ancient Egypt, Planet Hulk and The Old West – Cowboy Captain America is a personal favourite.
The game can be played in either single player mode or the always enjoyable cooperative mode. In addition, the game also introduces a new four player battle mode across a series of themed challenges and battle arenas.
The new ‘time manipulation mechanic’ allows specific characters to move forwards or backwards in time, giving the opportunity for different versions of characters from different eras to meet up in-game, from Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Man 2099 to Cowboy Captain America and standard issue Captain America.
The game kicks off with the Guardians of the Galaxy characters, definitely a good move. The opening ticks all the boxes and is enjoyable from start. I don’t believe in reviewing these games in isolation and I took the same approach as I did with my LEGO City Undercover review, enlisting the support and insights of my 11 and six year old boys. And why not? One of the key strengths of the games has been their ability to appeal to gamers of all ages, and we all delighted at the opening level and tackled it with much excitement and gusto.
My six year old seemed fixated with switching between Baby Groot and Groot which he’d figured out how to to without any assistance while my eldest boy took on the numerous adversaries. The cutscenes and gameplay are impressive and the familiar format doesn’t distract from the fact that this is an excellent game where the writers and developers have clearly considered how they can raise the bar – and they’ve succeeded.
Yes, it’s a familiar format but it’s one that works as it is both enjoyable and has that aforementioned longevity. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is definitely recommended – if you can’t wait, then buy it now. If you can, then add it to your Christmas list.