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Video game review: 'Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2' is fun but flawed

POSTED December 21, 2017 8:20 a.m.
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“Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2” is both a serviceable celebration of all things comic books and plastic bricks, and a somewhat dated Lego game. While each Lego title by Traveller’s Tales generally follows the same basic format, “Marvel Super Heroes 2” tends to reach just short of greatness.

There are a ton of characters to play and a huge world to explore, but the lack of tight mechanics, unique abilities and top-tier voice acting ultimately hurts what would otherwise be an excellent Lego Marvel game. The game will adequately entertain its young target audience and fans of recent Marvel films, but anyone looking for more than a nonsensical comic book story might be a little disappointed.

“Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2” follows the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy as they face off with Kang the Conqueror, a time-traveling dictator who is looking to rip various Marvel locations out of their proper timeline to create his ultimate kingdom, Chronopolis. Players will control a number of Marvel heroes across a number of levels to find various artifacts of power, which will allow the Avengers to properly defeat Kang.

The game’s story and world are perfectly serviceable, and navigating to objectives with various superheroes is a joy. There are close to 200 playable Marvel minifigures, not including any additional DLC characters that will be released at some point in the future. While popular characters like Star Lord and Captain America feature prominently, lesser-known heroes like Howard the Duck and Koi Boy are given the chance to shine through a handful of goofy side missions.

Unfortunately, the X-Men and Fantastic Four are completely absent in the game, with the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Inhumans filling in. The sheer number of characters is great, but Wolverine and the Human Torch, who appeared in the first “Lego Marvel Super Heroes,” are sorely missed.

Another critical aspect missing from the game is voice acting associated with each Marvel character. Thanks to the recent SAG-AFTRA voice actors’ strike, every character is given a voice different from any past incarnation of these characters. While some characters like Peter Serafinowicz’s (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Tick”) Kang are a joy to listen to, many sound pedestrian at best and annoying at worst. Any children playing the game will likely not notice or care about voice acting, but adult fans and gamers might be turned off by the lack of SAG voice actors. Additionally, the lack of a greater variety of character classes tends to leave most characters feeling boring. While Spider-Man is fun to swing around Chronopolis, the fact that several other characters move the exact same way robs the webslinger of feeling unique.

Each level challenges players with a number of objectives, but generally boils down to solving puzzles, breaking things and fighting supervillains. Most levels were fun to play through, but more than a few are pulled down by confusing objectives and spongy enemies. On some occasions, I found myself frustrated with a puzzle that I wasn’t sure how to complete, and found myself continuously beating on boss villains who kept taking hit after hit with no noticeable effect. Many of these moments become frustrating and tedious.

While every Lego game for the past few years has generally improved on the past formula (solve puzzles, smash bricks, rinse, repeat), “Marvel Super Heroes 2” feels dated. While the game has a huge open world to explore, it doesn’t improve on the basic, clunky combat system like this year’s “Lego Ninjago” game did. Additionally, the multi-build puzzle mechanic introduced in “Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is noticeably absent. These omissions leave the gameplay feeling somewhat stale and grating after a long play session.

“Lego Marvel Superheroes 2” is a fun game held back by dated game design and industry politics, holding it back from being a truly great game. The game’s story is entertaining and Chronopolis is incredibly fun to wander around, but the clumsy combat system, obscure objectives and subpar voice acting feel akin to stepping on a handful of Lego bricks. While there’s a great game in there somewhere for younger audiences and fans, “Lego Marvel Superheroes 2” could leave some gamers bored and frustrated.

Game: "Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2"

Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Price: $59.99 (base game), $14.99 (Season Pass)

ESRB rating: E10+ for cartoon violence

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