If you’re a hugely popular franchise then chances are LEGO will be interested in collaborating for one of their regular video game outings. Having already partnered up with Marvel before, it came as no shock to see them doing a joint venture once again for LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. Can it build on the massive steps it took in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes with the huge open world to explore and the larger mini-figures to provide an even better experience for Marvel fans of all ages?

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers mainly follows the stories told in both Marvel Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age of Ultron which sees the Earth’s mightiest heroes teaming up to take on the villains who are causing a real threat to the world. Other tales covered within the main fifteen story mode levels of the game include those found in Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

As the old saying goes – ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ – and I think that’s something LEGO certainly live by, because the routine gameplay style of having to smash up anything and everything in sight, in order to find pieces for building useful structures to move forwards, has remained. To be fair to them, kids love to cause mayhem and so destroying the surroundings seems ideal for the target market.

There have been at least a couple of mini games included to test the old gray matter too.

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Will you be able to remember the sequence of three directional arrows? I’ll admit it, yes, they are pretty darn easy but it’s these small change-ups that lessen the tediousness of proceedings. Even if it just means I’m sat turning virtual cards to match pairs, it’s a welcome shift in the gameplay. Although there appears to be a heavy reliance on a certain mini game concept, consisting of clicking on a map where there has just been a series of radar pings, meaning that it occurs far too frequently.

One of the only real major changes I’ve noticed during the gameplay is an additional combat technique. When a special icon indicates the opportunity, players can perform a special double team move to cause a higher level of damage. Some can simply consist of the throwing of one character into a more powerful ground pound, however with a little experimentation using the likes of Quicksilver will lead to an awesome team-up manoeuvre.

Story chapters generally end with a boss battle that requires a little extra patience to complete; where even if you get a hundred hits on a boss, it’ll only deplete as much health as is needed for the next stage of the battle to be initiated. You may need to defeat a wave of minions (not those yellow hyperactive things) to get a shot at the boss or have to wait for the villain to actually provide the tools necessary in order to build a solution to the problem at hand. None are overly difficult to take down but there is still a sense of satisfaction when you do so and if an adult can feel that way then it’ll be additionally triumphant for a child.

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The animated cut scenes are based on memorable segments from the films, but with that wise-cracking LEGO visual humour thrown in for good measure. I’ve seen all of the live-action scenes, yet these LEGO animations of them still felt fresh due to the comical tweaks that were made to provide giggles. Unfortunately, TT Games decided to add the actual audio used in the movies for the sound of these cut scenes and it turned out to be a bad call, just like it was when they did the same in LEGO Jurassic World. It is really difficult to make out what the characters are saying without subtitles on as it all ends up low in volume and sounding completely out of place with the visuals.

After all the story missions are complete, you’ve got three options. The first of which is to switch off and move on to something else entirely… and that’d be a bad call because the other two choices bring forth the real enjoyment for gamers to explore the Marvel Universe and the characters within. Playing through all the missions again in Free Play is one idea, to use any combination of heroes or villains that you’ve already unlocked to reveal all the Gold Bricks, new characters, Mini-Kits and Stan Lees in distress for each level. Being able to choose who you want to play as is far more enjoyable than using the Avengers over and over again. And that’s why the third option suits me perfectly.

There are a number of free-roam areas to explore, full of side missions, races, more Stan Lees getting themselves into trouble and a shed load of Gold Bricks. Collecting more LEGO studs here is also important for future use in purchasing vehicles and characters that become available. It’s not just the massive open space of Manhattan that has been in a LEGO Marvel game before. Now there are the Barton Farm, Sokovia, South Africa and Tony Stark’s beachside home in Malibu, to name just a few of the eight included.

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Although differences from previous LEGO games are few and far between, the quality of the environments has gone up a notch. Manhattan is the easiest area to compare because I’ve seen it before in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and the design of the buildings and roads look much sharper this time around. I have a lot of love for creativity gone into making the Asgard area; it’s easily the best environment in the whole game due to it being so different to the rest.

Roster sizes are ever-growing in video games these days and LEGO always push these boundaries. LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is no different with its roster boasting over 200 characters (including a multitude of Iron Man and Captain America variations), with a range of normal and large mini-figures from Marvel films, TV and comics; many of whom are making their LEGO debut. Most of the fun comes from unlocking the more obscure inclusions such as Jack of Hearts and Fin Fang Foom but those not clued up about the depths of the Marvel Universe will certainly be satisfied with Hulk, Thor and the better known villains like Loki and Ultron.

I’ve come to expect an awful lot from the LEGO games these days but I think it’s time to face the facts that the core gameplay probably isn’t ever really going to change. Thus, judging it on the stories it tells in their own unique comedic style, the environments made from bricks and the massive amount of characters and vehicles, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is a great game. I’d dare say that the local two player co-op offers a lovely opportunity for some family bonding too and saves switching between characters. It’s only let down by a bad decision on the audio and the mindless button bashing needed for progression.

My love for LEGO games has been tested lately with the onslaught of franchises it’s been teaming up with but Marvel and all the possibilities it can bring is arguably their best partnership. LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is certainly worth your time and money as long as you are used to the slog of breaking loads of things.

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5 years ago

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