Walking into a demonstration of LEGO: Marvel Super Heroes at Warner Bros.’ office, I already knew what to expect. After all, the LEGO format has been well established since the likes of the LEGO Star Wars series and new innovations like voiceovers have been in titles like LEGO Batman 2 and LEGO City Undercover.
This isn’t a bad thing, mind you -- it just gave me the freedom to see what Marvel’s heroes could offer to this already proven formula.
I was treated to a half an hour hands-off demo that was the same shown at GDC in San Francisco. The demonstration revolved around three main Marvel heroes -- the Hulk, Iron Man and Spider-Man (are you sure that's not Richard Branson in the image above? - ed). Each, as you’d expect if you’ve played a previous LEGO title, had their own quirks and special moves.
The voice actor for Iron Man has tried to make the character his own, and hasn’t opted for a Downey-like impersonation. I’m all for that.
The Hulk towers over the other mini-figures (maybe he’s classified as a figure, unlike the rest?) and has super-strength abilities that allow him to pick up and throw vehicles. Hulk can also perform a ground pound, freeing chunks of LEGO pieces from the world around him, in order to -- you guessed it -- lob them at enemies. There are limitations to his powers, of course; when fighting the Sandman, Hulk’s ground pound ability doesn’t work on LEGO sand; it just crumbles at his touch.
Iron Man is able to fly -- think Superman from LEGO Batman 2 -- and fires repulsor blasts at enemies and at intractable items in-world. He’s got the same cocky swagger from recent Iron Man and Avengers films, though he’s not voiced by Robert Downey, Jr. In what will be respected by some and not others, the voice actor for Iron Man has tried to make the character his own, and hasn’t opted for a Downey-like impersonation. I’m all for that.
Spider-Man pops up later in the level, and his powers revolve around web-swinging (a cross between Batman’s rope-swing and Superman’s flight, I’d say) and his spider-sense, which highlights intractable items so that Spider-Man or other heroes can progress through the level.
All up, it’s standard LEGO fare; move to an area, figure out which abilities need to be used to continue on, and then rinse and repeat. Collectibles continue to remain a main feature in the game, as does swapping characters on the fly for their unique abilities. Those LEGO staples tend to get old for me -- and fast -- but thankfully the series is a witty as ever, which helps to balance it all out.
You can’t deny that the game is adorable and hilarious. Hulk encounters his arch-nemesis, the Abomination, and the two throw themselves into a Benny Hill-like punch on. The Hulk can also transform back and forth between his Bruce Banner or Hulk personas, and watching Bruce’s arms and legs pop from puny human to huge green thing never got old.
Tt has even made sure to litter the game world with secondary Marvel characters, so if you’ve a good eye, you’ll appreciate that Damage Control gets called in to clean up the mess caused by Sandman.
In short, nothing about LEGO: Marvel Super Heroes should come as a surprise; the franchise is well-polished and will deliver the same open-world experience of LEGO Batman , this time using Marvel heroes. A roster of over 100 characters has been confirmed, so it’s safe to say that Marvel fans are already drooling over the likes of this title already.