The Lego games have always been more about fun and fan service than plot and gameplay mechanics.
The games seemed to be at the peak of their powers with the release of 2013’s Lego Marvel Superheroes. A fun story along with a cast of over 100 characters made the family friendly adventure a hit with critics and gamers. The ending guaranteed a sequel and TT Games delivered this year with Lego Marvel Superheroes 2.
Nowadays, it seems like if you are going to describe a game you have to include a disclaimer. “It’s a JRPG but…” or “it’s an indie game but…” Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 is no exception. This is a video game that can be enjoyed by all ages but that does not mean it is easy. There are puzzles and platforming sections that require thought. Still, prompts are abundant and Legos that can be used to build helpful objects clearly stand out.
Low level enemies encountered during the level are a fun distraction while boss fights are a mix of super powered battles and puzzle solving. Health bars are a welcome addition as now it is easier to tell whether your attacks as working as you progress through the level. It is unfortunate that this does not always carry though to boss fights (more on this later.)
The biggest draw for Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 is the cast of characters. The sequel has more characters that can be unlocked with the final list reportedly being over 200. This includes the bigger names like Spider Man and Captain America and lesser known heroes such as Throg and the Iron Duck. It is an impressive list just based on what developers have already shown. One noticeable change the second game makes is its willingness to focus on smaller characters. Where the first game had you immediately start story levels as Iron Man or Thor, the second game is willing to let you play as a Captain Avalon or She Hulk because as fun as it is to play as Star-Lord, it is exciting to play as some of Marvel’s more unsung heroes.
Regrettably, there is a rather big omission that the impact of will depend completely on the player. As deep and obscure as the writers went in filling out the game’s roster, it looks as if some of the Marvel Universe’s most persecuted champions will not be making an appearance in the game. (I have played around 20 hours and am nowhere near locking all the characters, so I may be wrong.) Again, this will not matter as much to some as it does to others, but it is definitely noticeable.
The hub world is also vastly improved. While there was nothing wrong with Manhattan in the first game, it did suffer from repetitiveness. There was the park, the Statue of Liberty, and lots and lots of skyscrapers. The second game eliminates this sameness by introducing Chronopolis – a hub world filled with locations as varied as Wakanda to Medieval England. The different areas in Chronopolis also have their own lighting and weather which adds to its beauty. There are still as many side quests and secrets to discover in a much more varied world. Manhattan was merely serviceable in the first game, while Chronopolis is actually fun.
As many of the positive attributes of Lego games are present, so are many of the issues that bothered fans. Camera controls are stiff and many times useless. The levels that use a static camera tend to place the it at an awkward angle. There are many moments where you will be operating more by what you hear than what you see and there are also still moments where the game does not provide enough information to the player.
While the main story is straight forward, some of the side quest puzzles can be infuriating. This is more due to lack of instruction and not overwhelming difficulty. For example, one mission tasked me to find some wandering pigs. This was easy enough, but once I found them I had no idea what to do. This happened in another optional puzzle in which I was using Ms. Marvel. I had to complete a maze using the triggers to rotate the view and open doors.
Once I got to the end Ms. Marvel looked at me and shrugged. I received no feedback from the game both times. By far, the most egregious cases are in boss battles. For some reason, not all of these fights have health bars. You are left running around switching between characters and hoping to stumble across the right plan of attack. It is almost as if a point was made to put indicators everywhere except where you need them most.
Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 brings many welcome changes to the series. Characters are numerous and charming. Unfortunately, the issues that plagued the first game are not only still here, they seem like they may be greater than before. You do not have to be a comic books fan to enjoy the newest Lego game, but it will definitely try your patience.