Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review – Smashing and hoarding

“Hasn’t this been released already?” You’d certainly be forgiven for thinking as much. Lego Marvel’s Avengers certainly shares some similarities with 2013’s Lego Marvel Super Heroes. There’s a near identical open world hub based in Manhattan and enough comic book characters to make Sheldon Cooper’s head spin.

The story missions are all brand new though and the main campaign missions involve the key scenes from the two Avengers movies. Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Solider and Thor: Dark World are included as optional levels – condensed down to the key action scenes. The dialogue may be lifted from the films, but theatrics aim to make you laugh and provide plenty of in jokes for fans.

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Just to be clear, this IS NOT a Lego Dimensions title, so you don’t need a plug-in portal and you won’t constantly be pushed towards buying additional toys to unlock content or abilities. You’re getting the traditional full Lego game experience.

Like all Lego titles, gameplay involves smashing the scenery to bits and occasionally holding Circle to rebuild them as a means to progress. The extensive character roster is given a thorough workout as you control a different group for each level. As ever, despite the wayward camera, the game is best enjoyed in family-friendly co-op.

Naturally, individual character abilities play a key part in progressing, or unlocking those addictive collectibles. Thor can power up electrical switches (albeit in laboriously fiddly fashion), Iron Man blows up silver objects and melts gold, Captain America activates shield switches, Black Widow turns invisible, Hulk smashes and so on. Some characters share abilities and you’ll soon have a few ‘go to’ favourites in the freeplay mode. Hawkeye, something of a B-lister in the movies, comes into his own with explosives, gold melting, glass shattering and acrobatic abilities. Can’t fly though, so maybe you’ll just use War Machine.

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When not breaking up the environment to look for clues and collectibles, you’ll be fending off the Chitauri troops or Ultron’s sentries. There’s a collection of new recharging buddy attacks where two characters perform a devastating attack that clears the screen of enemies (naturally, more keep coming too). An individual finisher move can be activated at any time with the Circle button, but the animations are overlong and it’s usually quicker to just keep bashing them with the regular Square button attacks. That said, derivative minion enemies seem tougher than past games, requiring considerably more thwacks before falling apart. Frankly, most encounters go on too long and they really drag out the missions.

It’s about time the ranged attacks like Thor’s hammer throw, Iron Man’s blasts, Hawkeye’s arrows and so on got their own button, as melee and ranged share the Square button and react based off enemy proximity. You can hold the button to lock-on, but this mechanic seems to have become increasingly unresponsive.

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It wouldn’t be a Lego game without some infuriating bugs and glitches. So naturally, you can expect the interaction icon to not appear or crap out in the middle of a build. You’ll get stuck in walls. My personal favourite though, the last enemy in a ‘defeat X enemies to progress’ area won’t register as defeated, forcing a reboot, and the midlevel save points won’t have worked either, meaning you may have to replay a huge chunk. Using the shoulder buttons to pick from a selection of characters when replaying levels in freeplay mode is also broken.

Some design decisions will really test your patience. Where has the character select wheel for favourites/recents gone? The long-winded manual selection from the nearly 200 character selection screen is a pain in the ass when you need new abilities constantly. And why is it so hard to jump to the ground from a building in Manhattan? After leaping to the street, characters now bounce back high into the sky without you asking.

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By this point though, as much as Traveller’s Tales really should pull their thumbs from their asses and fix their miserably shaky code that they’ve allowed to hobble through multiple console generations, we pretty much expect this from every Lego game. So, know what you’re walking into.

As mentioned earlier, Manhattan returns as an open hub and it’s a fairly lazy remix of the 2013 game, but at least the flying controls have been improved. Additional smaller hub worlds to explore include South Africa, Asgard and more from the movies. There’s plenty to do though really.

If you’ve been growing a little tired of the same old Lego formula, Lego Marvel’s Avengers certainly won’t change that. There’s really nothing new to shout about gameplay wise, but let’s be honest, there never was going to be. It’s all about obsessively aiming for that 100% marker.

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Pros

  • Amusing take on the movies
  • Lots of content to explore for
  • Not as buggy as most Lego games…

Cons

  • …but still unacceptably poor
  • Character selection controls in freeplay are awful
  • Combat is mind-numbingly dull

The Short Version: A few typical Lego series technical gremlins will frustrate and gameplay is recycled again but overall, this is a game Lego and Marvel movie fans will enjoy. Experienced Lego treasure hunters will be able to blitz the campaign levels in seven to ten hours, but it’s those collectible-hunting Freeplay modes that will have you coming back for another 30 of smashing and hoarding. It’s the Hulk’s and The Collector’s favourite game.

6.5/10

Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) |Xbox One | PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 | Vita | 3DS
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher:  Warner Bros

   

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