You May Not Marvel at Lego Super Heroes

Why the latest entry in the block-building franchise engenders a serious case of deja vu.

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"Sand for brain," Abomination mutters angrily under his breath when his partner in crime commits an evildoer's faux pas. The duality of that comment elicits quiet chuckles in the demonstration room. The hulking bad guy insulted Sandman's cognitive abilities and made a factual statement about the makeup of his cerebellum. A delightful pun. Such humor made frequent appearances in the brief demo of the Lego-themed Marvel adventure. Sandman growls, "I've already won, hands down," while trying to smash Spider-Man with his giant, sand-crafted hands. "He threw that car like a toy," Iron Man quips after having a Lego car tossed his way. It's this simple humor that stood out in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, mostly because the action was all too familiar.

The Marvel universe is overflowing with superheroes, evil villains, and innocent bystanders continually scanning the housing markets of cities not overrun with battling bullies. Lego Marvel borrows from comic books (and popular movies) to build its cast of recognizable characters. In the only stage shown thus far, Abomination and Sandman have formed an uneven duo as they hold unfortunate passersby hostage. The police department is obviously no match for the ruffians who rule the roost, which means any disciplinary action falls on the shoulders of those blessed with not only superpowers, but a tendency to stop evil in its tracks.

Hulk and Iron Man team up to smash minifigs, and they make jokes along the way. Later, Spider-Man joins the team, and he is also more than happy to provide some levity while he slings his webbing around. The developers said that combat has been thrust to the forefront in Lego Marvel in an attempt to show what these enhanced people can do, though the focus on bashing doesn't seem radically different from how Lego games are normally structured. Nameless henchmen run toward your powered-up team, and Hulk easily tosses a car or block of pavement their way, or Iron Man unleashes a swarm of homing missiles. Spider-Man likes his criminals sticky, so he wraps them in a tight cocoon before kicking them in their Lego noggins.

Once the good guys' progress is halted, it's time to solve puzzles. In the level shown, sand is everywhere, so you often have to figure out how to pass beach-based barriers. Spray some water toward a wall, and it solidifies, and then you can just bash through it with Hulk. The huge green guy was the focal point of the presentation. He represents a class of giant character called bigfig. These characters are stronger than the average superhero, but lack dexterity. When you need to build a Lego structure, you have to switch to someone with more nimble hands. This could be Spider-Man or Iron Man, or you could just say "Serenity now," become less angry, and turn Hulk into Bruce Banner. What Banner lacks in might he more than makes up for in smarts.

The hands-off demo certainly looked fun, but it also seemed very familiar. The Lego series has existed for eight years (starting with 2005's Lego Star Wars) and hasn't changed much in that time. The action combines platforming, puzzle solving, and combat in colorful worlds. Dozens of characters are available, most of which are squirreled away behind unlock requirements. Building is a side activity: you simply hold a button over dancing pieces that magically form into a predetermined structure. And a lighthearted tone keeps things feeling silly, frequently poking fun at the source material.

Of course, don't forget about the source material. One of the cornerstones of the Lego games is that, aside from Lego City Undercover, they are always based on a popular license. You might be aiding droids in Star Wars, or running from boulders in Indiana Jones. Maybe you're solving the Riddler's puzzles in Batman, or pining for giant eagle rides in Lord of the Rings. Possessing the Boy Who Lived in Harry Potter was fun for a spell, and now you can play around in the Marvel universe. Accessibility meshed with likable portrayals of beloved franchises leads to a winning combination. But how long can that formula be entertaining? Is there a point when bashing enemies and climbing ropes in a familiar world lose their appeal?

Witnessing the single level on display, it appears Lego Marvel doesn't veer from the established formula of its predecessors. However, it does seem to tap into the core appeal that has made the Lego franchise so popular. The humorous take on well-known characters is instantly endearing, and seeing how deep the developers will dive into the expansive cast of heroes and villains is certainly intriguing. The developers said that Wolverine would make an appearance, and would even square off against his (unnamed) nemesis. That Sabertooth might appear in the game created a mild stir in the demo room. And, maybe, those character cameos are just enough to ensure the same formula doesn't get too tiresome.

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Discussion

93 comments
PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

I really wish they made Ultimate Alliance with all this cast. Playable Doc Ock, Green Goblin and probably Vulture, Sandman, Lizard., Kingpin.. If there's Mysterio, Venom and Shocker as well I'll have to get it just for the Spidey roster, even though I'm so bored of the gameplay.

BATRAX
BATRAX

 maybe the next lego game is world of warcraft for the wii u because i saw green goblin character and he can be come a character from world of warcraft that would be cool

klonoa53
klonoa53

Slowly but surely I'm waiting for that lego master collection that has every  lego game ever made. Then I can enjoy a giant collection of lego-ized movies that are fun to play.

duuuuuuude1
duuuuuuude1

This is the Lego game I've been waiting for.  I hope it doesn't freeze near the end of the game like all the other Lego games I've played.

EpicGilgamesh
EpicGilgamesh

I would love to see a Lego X-Men next. Add in all the X-Men 90's Jim Lee skins and I will definitely get it.

SamoanGrind
SamoanGrind

Beautiful Graphics, Lego Fun and a popular trend? Good Clean Fun for the Kids.

thps48
thps48

Huh, has the biggest news site in gaming always been this opinionated? I seem to remember why I'm not here a whole lot. :P

Jdude10
Jdude10

Is this the demo, and when will the demo come out on the xbox-360 in the U.S.A.?  I need something to do while I wait for this to come out.

Cappuccin0
Cappuccin0

By Lego StarWars 3 I was already tired of these games. That being said, whenever I played em I couldn't help but thinking: This would be awesome with regular models instead of Lego pieces.

andynorman888
andynorman888

I never have and never will understand why people buy these games. Theyre just a worse version of an already terrible movie-game knock off.

MrOrbitz
MrOrbitz

In a world where Dynasty Warriors, EA Sports, and Call of Duty continuously release "new" games to excited fans ( and in the case of Call of Duty, constantly shatter sales records) Why can't there be a game for Lego fans that hardly ever changes?

If the customers want it, let them have it.

DienMan81
DienMan81

This game looks awesome. Naggin about the all to familiar action just shows that some video game editors may be a bit fatigued with their job. They rejoice over anything with new impulses, even if its in the end some lame art crap. COUGH Journey COUGH ><

BARC_Trooper
BARC_Trooper

Its too bad people keep saying that this game is going to be the same as the other LEGO titles. I would be, or rather am, grateful that they don't change the core game style of LEGO games, simply because it would ruin the experience for what makes LEGO games fun. If they changed LEGO games to being 1st-person-POV style, that would be like changing CoD games to being Over-world-POV style like the Pokemon games. Neither would  come out very good if their game styles changed. Also remember: these LEGO games ARE targeted for children(E10+). Besides, who doesn't want to play as Spider-Man, with the Abomination following behind, in New York?

darkPSPfan
darkPSPfan

I get to play as lego Deadpool. Good enough for me.

Caldrin
Caldrin

From the very start i found the lego games gameplay very repetitive so i have never been a fan..

Courtawulf
Courtawulf

I agree that if you've been playing them since 2005 then the formula will be stale. But I also don't think you fall into the target audience. Sure these games are great for all ages, but they are best for parents and kids. And kids are very much like the lego games, they keep making more of them, and they are mostly similar. There are probably plenty of kids looking forward to this game that were born in 2005, and have thus never played any lego game.

Heil68
Heil68

I've only recently started to play lego games and I've enjoyed them a lot. Will be getting this one for sure.

megakick
megakick

Its the same thing over and over.... You have LEGOS but can you build whatever you like? POINTLESS...

b0sse
b0sse

The LEGO games are awesome.

You always wanna play it to 100%.

It's for those completionists out there.

I can't get enough of collecting all that stuff, and I've played pretty much ALL LEGO games. So addicting.

dbene
dbene

Lego games are fun.....but they are SOO played out that even my 6 and 7 year old are actually tired of them. 

Andrew1073
Andrew1073

Like a few have said already, I have never played a Lego game, and I do love me some Marvel...this may have to be bought.

bboyham
bboyham

Make Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 instead of this

1234ritchie
1234ritchie

I haven't played a Lego game since The Complete Saga and I love Marvel so I will probably pick this up. It also offers the chance to play as loads of super heroes which we haven't been able to do since Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2/

Keivz_basic
Keivz_basic

I love the marvel universe and haven't played a lego game in forever. Thus, this has me intrigued. I can see why someone who plays all the lego games could start to find staleness in the familiarity.

BlendThree
BlendThree

Honestly, I was less than pleased with those boards that separated player 1 & 2 onto different tasks (especially the ones where I was left stealthing around on the split screen).  Then to keep that dynamic during free-play mode- no thanks!  Hopefully this one harkens back to the earlier games of the series.

Lhomity
Lhomity

The Lego games have always been pretty much the same. Same controls, same one-button combat. Same stupid AI. Same brainless puzzle-solving. Same stud collecting. Still, they manage to be at least mildly entertaining.

Zero_Echo
Zero_Echo

I always wanted a Marvel Lego game when they announced a DC Universe one. 

MegaPyroFlame
MegaPyroFlame

If it isn't broke, then why fix it?  It certainly isn't an outdated formula or engine, especially compared to other long-running franchises.  I do see McShea's point, though; these games could start going the route of New Super Mario Bros. 2 if the series starts veering off in an unfavorable direction.

coop36
coop36

I mightve actually read this article.. but then I saw who wrote it.

ablerider
ablerider

GS did the same for tomb raider and they were wrong

StrippinChicken
StrippinChicken

@EpicGilgamesh Surely the X-Men characters will be in this? Or are you talking about a game solely based off the X-Men, the base being the X Mansion and so on?

debryson
debryson

@thps48 I prefer this style to generic articles most sites post. Just be honest and tell me whats good and bad and why. As  long as there are sound arguments, i like rather i agree or not.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@andynorman888 Except they're much more enjoyable than tie-in games ever are. They're colorful and always represent their licenses well. Plus they're parodies, too.

BARC_Trooper
BARC_Trooper

@andynorman888 Thats like saying "I never understand why dogs like treats. They're just a worse version of an already terrible dog-food knock off." Does it really need an explanation, lol?

Cappuccin0
Cappuccin0

@andynorman888 they're actually better than the movie tie-in games most of the time, but they've overstayed their welcome IMO.

BARC_Trooper
BARC_Trooper

@DienMan81  Lol, well this editor IS the "jerk who hates all the things you love" and vice-versa. Quite honestly: I'd like to see HIM make a lego game that is better than TT's games.

darkPSPfan
darkPSPfan

@Courtawulf i've been playing lego games since then and i still love each title. i do admit, in the end they are the same formula, but if something works don't need to fix it

dbene
dbene

Plus they were much funnier before speech. 

thps48
thps48

@DoctorsTardis @thps48 Depends who's being asked, I suppose... Spike said Gamespot one year, then I stopped watching the Spike Awards, plus I don't know too much of today's gaming journalism. ^_^

Being directly associated with GF gives off a certain air, maybe. :)

thps48
thps48

@debryson @thps48 One could argue the conservatory nature of the series is its biggest flaw, and others will say it's its biggest draw because the core elements have remained unchanged, the series remains highly replayable as if one isn't playing the same game over and over with different coats of paint. It could be the logic behind buying a movie that sells itself as a game which keeps the motor running because if we remove the game parts we're left with a carbon LEGO copy of the films and properties the game is derived. An interactive story with boilerplate interactivity still sells, obviously. Also, there's the part where Nintendo copies sell more because of the abundance of bugger-all for Wii (Wii U likely will fare better than its predecessor, but its still in its infancy.) It's most comparable to revisiting TTYD every year or two since, as mentioned, it's one game engine in its core. If we can't stop Barbie game sales, we sure as hell can't stop the TT series from selling, lol. :T

walterg74
walterg74

You've obviously never played any of them... ( besides the fact of not knowing how many installments there are)

MrOrbitz
MrOrbitz

@DaneGamer @MrOrbitz Very true! There's tons of games that continuously release new instalments that don't "break new ground" so to speak.. But they don't have to all be trying to innovate, which is what a lot of people in the gaming press seem to want games to do, Innovate even when it isn't necessary, If it's not broke you don't need to fix it.. is what I'm trying to say lol.

woodyfr
woodyfr

@bmart970 They only skipped speech because of the budget. It was awkward, it's better now.