Lego’s video games are released with such regularity that perennial franchises such as Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty seem positively snail-paced. Lego Marvel Avengers is but one of a thronging mass, but also, rather miraculously, my first real entry into the world of Lego games.
It speaks to the franchise’s all-encompassing popularity that my complete lack of experience with Lego titles was tempered by a pre-existing knowledge of how they work. There’s platforming, gentle puzzles, light combat and of course,
advertising products building things from Lego.
I had this game’s number down. So as someone who’s turned off by most cinematic tie-ins, could Lego Marvel Avengers make a master builder out of me?
Much to my surprise, my introduction to Lego Marvel Avengers was an awkward affair. For some reason, I just wasn’t grasping the basic logical leaps the game asks of players. Frustrating minutes would be spent searching for the ever-elusive solution or fruitlessly attempting to interact with objects that would spit coins in my face, seemingly in disgust at my ineptitude.
Now I’m sure my missteps were due to two factors: firstly, my ignorance of certain conventions from previous games - smashing up the scenery to find constructible bricks is a must - leaving me trawling the screen for clues that didn’t exist. Secondly, the all-important bricks, which are in most cases are the key to overcoming any puzzle are not always clearly signposted.
The smash game
When bricks can be assembled into something new they gently hop to indicate their desire to form a new object. Unfortunately, this behaviour sometimes fails to activate if a small piece of the pre-existing scenery hasn’t been destroyed. One particular incident atop a bridge in Manhattan had me begging to the gods for a solution when all that was standing in my way was one, tiny destructible rock which I had failed to attack during a smashing spree.
Lego Marvel Avengers, for the most part, offers fun, simple puzzles, but I found my initial experience mired in small inconsistencies such as this. As I continued to play, this loggerhead confrontation with the game’s design did ease. Mercifully, I began to feel like I was on the same intellectual par as a pre-teen.
'Hulk say cheese'
Fortunately, Lego Marvel Avengers exudes enough charm in its reenactment of events from the films to absolve itself of such design gaffes. The tongue-in-cheek satirical tone for which the games have become well known returns, and there are plenty moments which give cause to chuckle be that Hawkeye’s recurring obsession with Slush Puppies or The Hulk’s predilection for taking selfies.
The recreation of the Marvel films’ many environments and set pieces is also a pleasant distraction. Lego Marvel Avengers’ tendrils stretch out across both phases one and two of the MCU. That’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe for those of you who aren’t quite such a nerd as I am.
Events from Avengers Assemble, Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are all available, taking the player to New York, Asgard, Iron Man’s Malibu home and beyond. TT Games’ miniaturised reconstructions are both joyful and impressive.
THE NOT-SO-BIG APPLE
There is, however, a tension between the game’s desire to mimic the films it’s inspired by and a desire to provide an open world to wander about in. As with Lego Marvel Superheroes, players are free to explore a modestly-sized Manhattan at their leisure in Free Play mode. With the exception of encouraging players to fool around with new heroes as they are slowly unlocked, there’s not much reason for this mode’s existence.
A smattering of mini-missions can be found across the island, and instances of robbery and assault randomly spawn across the map, but save for these brief distractions there is very little to do. Disney Infinity’s persistent online worlds and ample construction tools make this kind of explorative play enticing, but I found little reason to return to Manhattan in Lego Marvel Avengers.
WHO IS AMERICA CHAVEZ?
As you’d expect, heroes are this game’s principle sell. Collecting coins allows players to unlock the intimidatingly large bank of crusaders from across the Marvel universe. Luke Cage, Fin Fang Foom, Ultron, and even a family friendly version of Jessica Jones (as her alter-ego in the comics, Jewel) makes an appearance.
Mechanically speaking the differences between each hero aren’t all that great. With such a gargantuan cast, bestowing each and every one completely unique abilities would have been a superhuman (guffaw) feat. Stars like Quicksilver and The Hulk are granted some truly individual powers, but much of the masked cast is restricted to flying, super strength, or some variation on a laser beam.
Regardless, fans of both the cinematic universe and comics will undoubtedly delight in unlocking each and every one.
If like myself you’re not no superhero swat then there’s a massive cast to research and become curious about. Who is America Chavez? Until yesterday, I had no idea. Now I do.
There have, of course, been casualties of the transition from Lego Marvel Superheroes, which devoted itself to the comics, and Lego Marvel Avengers, which is bound to the MCU. Your Spidey sense won’t be tingling any time soon nor do any of Xavier’s mutant protege make an appearance. The complex web of licensing that Marvel has spun for itself over recent decades is undoubtedly to blame for these glaring absences.
Lega Marvel Avengers verdict
After a painful start, I must admit that I became much fonder of Lego Marvel Avengers as time drew on. Annoyances such as muffled dialogue (a result of lifting much of the audio directly from the films) and the absence of my beloved X-Men were overcome by the game’s frivolous charm and easy to master mechanics.
I had more fun with Disney Infinity thanks to its construction tools and more sophisticated approach to combat, but Lego Marvel Avengers is also a sound pick for those seeking something a little less involved.