I have to declare an interest here, and explain that I have always loved a LEGO game, even from the early titles where there was no talking, and the characters had to do all the acting with their faces (take a bow, LEGO Star Wars). As time went on, speech was introduced, and the whole LEGO games evolution continued to move into the great games that they are today. Now, in this trip down memory lane, I’ll be looking back at the 2016 release of LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, all with my rose-tinted glasses sitting firmly in place – you see, my son and I were great fans of the films that this game was based on, Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and that means there is much love for the LEGO-based gaming titles.
Of course, the beauty of these LEGO games is the way that combat and violence is handled. There has to be conflict, clearly, otherwise how will the good guys win? What makes these so family friendly however is the way that the fighting happens, with enemies falling to pieces when they are defeated; no blood or gore to be seen. Even when the character you are playing as gets defeated, the loss of a few studs is not too traumatic.
It’s helped that the puzzles in these games are fairly straightforward as well, usually requiring something to be broken, so it can then be rebuilt into a useful item with our Master Building skills. These can help in the levels with gaining collectibles, or even sometimes in the boss fights where you have to build some weird and wonderful device to help take out the baddie. As a fully fledged graduate of the Skylander academy, having beaten all the games himself, my son didn’t struggle with these puzzles at all. He was also annoyingly better than me at the flying sections, but I put that down to my reflexes being somewhat on the old and creaky side.
The game premise was based, as I mentioned earlier, on the first two films of the Avengers, with levels covering memorable moments from both movies. All the best bits were there: Loki attacking the Stark building and getting thrown around by the Hulk (“Puny God!” still reduces my son to laughter even now), the climactic fight at the end of the first film when the Chitauri invade, battling Ultron in the boat in South Africa, and again at the end of the second film – every memorable moment is there. Seeing these massive setpieces, with their huge CGI effects recreated as LEGO, is as entrancing today as it was back in the day.
So, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers was fun to play, both in single-player and co-op mode, and it followed the story of two pretty great films very faithfully, so it must have been a hit with the critics, right? Well, not so much, it appears, as the majority of the reviews back in the day were actually pretty poor; Destructoid giving it only 6/10. Needless to say, I didn’t agree with these scores at the time and still don’t now. While the game admittedly didn’t do anything particularly new or ground-breaking, the memories of playing with my boy will ensure this is one of my all time favourite games. And while I’m on the subject, to me at least, there’s something comforting about a LEGO game being a LEGO game – you know what to expect, there’s going to be no unexpected profanity thrown in for the sake of being edgy, no over the top violence, just good, wholesome fun.
As with the other LEGO games, beating the story mode doesn’t mean that you are done with the game, by a long shot. As you play through, you will unlock extra characters with new capabilities, like destroying shiny gold LEGO blocks and so on. So, playing through the levels again, with different characters, will then lead to new collectibles being found and so on. Also, for the first time, there was more than one “hub” area, allowing you again to explore new locations and find more secrets. New York returns as the main area, as in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, but there are hubs set in Asgard, Malibu, The Helicarrier and Sokovia, amongst others. With over 200 playable characters to find and unlock, in addition to the character generator that allows you to make your creation, you’re never short of a team to play with. And Stan Lee’s in it too, as usual!
Graphically, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers worked perfectly well, and with the heroes all in LEGO form the team looked adorable. The soundtrack was something of a departure this time around, as instead of using vocal “talent” to voice the action, the developers used dialogue and even music from the films to make it sound as realistic as possible. This style had been used in the LEGO Hobbit and LEGO The Lord of the Rings titles, so while it did sound strange to have Robert Downey Jr.’s voice coming out of a LEGO minifig, with a bit of suspension of disbelief it all just worked.
All in all, I loved my time with LEGO Marvel’s Avengers back in 2016. It was a real father and son bonding experience, and since then our joint love of gaming has just gone through the roof. But how about you guys out there? Did you play the game, and do you also a soft spot for a LEGO title? Let us know in the comments!
If you need to pick up a copy of LEGO Marvel’s Avengers on Xbox, the Xbox Store will sort you out.