Since 1997, 50 video games based on LEGO toys have been released. In 2001, Lego Creator: Harry Potter introduced games based on non-LEGO intellectual properties. Since then, LEGO has licensed several popular franchises for use in its video games, including Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Now, LEGO joins forces with Marvel Comics with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Developed by TT Games and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, this is a game that allows players to control more than 150 characters from the Marvel Universe, each with their own special abilities. The title features gameplay similar to other LEGO titles such as LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga and LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, switching between various action-based gameplay and puzzle-solving scenarios.
The game begins with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Iron Man in pursuit of Silver Surfer, who is knocked out of the sky by Dr. Victor Von Doom. Surfer's shimmering surfboard shatters into "cosmic bricks" that fall to Earth. Doom forges an alliance with Loki and commands an all-star squad of super villains that includes Green Goblin, Red Skull and Magneto. Harnessing the Surfer's cosmic power, Doom sets out to build a "Doom Ray of Doom" and take over the world. S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury assembles the Marvel Universe's mightiest heroes to retrieve the cosmic bricks before they can be utilized by Doom and his army. The player controls a dream team of spandex-clad heroes and navigates familiar locations from the Marvel Universe, including Stark Tower, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and Asgard.
In story mode, you'll play through 15 multi-part levels and, in between missions, explore a massive open-world New York City. The open-world areas are filled with secrets to find and additional puzzles and activities to complete. Once you complete a level in story mode, you can replay the level in free play mode. Unlike story mode, free play mode allows you to use any of the characters you have unlocked so far — not just the heroes assigned to that mission. This allows you to bring in characters with different abilities so you can collect hard-to-reach LEGO mini-kits and rescue Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, who, just like in the Marvel films, makes a cameo in each mission.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes features the same tongue-in-cheek humor and cheerful tone that's made the LEGO series (and The LEGO Movie) such a huge hit with kids and adults alike. It will take you a solid 30 hours to complete the entire game, so there's plenty of replay value to ensure you're getting the most bang for your buck (or brick). Experienced gamers won't find many of the puzzles to be much of a challenge; for the most part, they'll simply need to identify the type of puzzle they're solving and then hit the right steps in the right order.
The game's only real flaw is the frustrating, unwieldy flight system. Flying around Manhattan as Thor or Iron Man is cool, but the buttons used to control the pitch of your character's flight also control turning flight mode on and off. As a result, you may accelerate into the sides of buildings or accidentally turn off your boosters altogether and fall off the screen. For young gamers, this frustration may result in fits of controller-throwing and air-punching. Still, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is the best Marvel game since 2009's Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. This game is easy to recommend to both casual and dedicated comics fans, as it's a light-hearted adventure overflowing with charm and wit and promising plenty of action for those waiting for the next Avengers movie.
(LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.)