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LEGO Marvel Superheroes Next-Gen Review
There's a certain kind of irony through which one's brain immediately filters statements such as "LEGO Marvel Superheroes is one of the best games of the year". The narcissism and self-seriousness of our industry, and of society as a whole, couldn't possibly allow a goofy, heart-on-its-sleeve family adventure like a LEGO game to surpass the giants of Call of Duty and Battlefield and become a must-have next-gen launch title. But I'm here to tell you that it has, and even if you typically think yourself above the cheesy humor and bland combat of LEGO, you should give Marvel Superheroes a second look. It's the deepest, most satisfying LEGO game yet.
Like all games in the long-running series, LEGO Marvel Superheroes is an ensemble affair. The Marvel universe is intimidatingly huge, and while TT Games clearly couldn't fit in every character to appear in the comics over the years, they've squeezed in enough characters big and small to make you feel like the gang's all here. All the big bases are covered - you'll play as The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-man, and Wolverine in the game's early levels - and as you progress you'll unlock more niche characters like Ant Man and Ronan the Accuser. This being a LEGO game, the bottom-tier Marvel characters like Howard the Duck and Absorbing Man are often given the spotlight to amusing effect.
All characters big and small have their own set of abilities, and while some of them overlap (Hulk and She-Hulk will obviously share a few commonalities, for example) the game generally does a good job of distinguishing between characters with different movement styles or animation sequences. Some characters have secret abilties that can only be discovered by experimenting with pressing or holding certain buttons on the controller. Try holding down O/B with Mr. Fantastic for a hilarious shapeshifting surprise. It's even funnier when you decide to go skydiving off of the SHIELD Helicarrier in your new form.
LEGO's first Marvel game differentiates itself from past games in the series in its massive action sequences. In this rare case, the game didn't have to be based off of any books or films, and this gave TT Games the chance to let go with their character combinations and boss battles. The first level is a great example of this. The game starts you off as Iron Man and The Hulk, only you're downtown in New York fighting against Sandman and Abomination. As you progress through the sand-drenched streets, Spider-man will join your party. Sandman will send all sorts of obstacles your way, building up walls that only Hulk can smash through and using his massive size to toss helicopters through buildings. It may only be a family-friendly LEGO game, but it delivers the same kind of epic feeling that watching The Avengers for the first time did. Seeing these heroes and villains stack up against each other in unique and unpredictable ways throughout the campaign is exhilerating and oftentimes funny.
It's all made better with the inclusion of another player, and LEGO Marvel is hands-down the best splitscreen multiplayer game of either console launch. The addition of another player, whether locally or online, brings gameplay to a whole new level as you cooperate to work through the game's numerous battles and puzzles. It's a fantastic game to play with the kids, but it has enough humor and action to keep all but the most jaded adult glued to the screen, too.
It's kind of weird to call a LEGO game a visual showcase for next-gen consoles, but here I am doing it anyway. While nothing that happens onscreen will strike you as something that's not possible on last-gen stuff (in fact, the game launched a few weeks back on PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U), the crisp 1080p resolution on PS4 and the silky smooth framerate ensures that the game's vast array of particle effects and bendy LEGO physics are at their all-time prettiest here.
LEGO Marvel Superheroes is an absolute blast for kids and adults alike. It's clear that there's plenty of passion for the Marvel universe at TT Games, as even bit players like Howard the Duck get their moments before the credits roll. Furthermore, the cheesy humor nails the writing of oldschool comics, and the massive battle sequences are among the most thrilling you'll find on next-gen consoles. This is both the LEGO game and the Marvel game we've all been waiting for.