LEGO games have become very prevalent in the last several years, with multiple titles coming out each year. They typically release around the time the universe or movie they’re based off of is having a release as well, and the marketing synergy there makes sense to do it that way. Indeed, many popular franchises have been LEGO-tized, from Indiana Jones and Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter, to the DC universe, Jurassic Park, and indeed, the Marvel universe as well, which is the subject of the latest release in Marvel Super Heroes 2 (MSH2).
Of all of the LEGO games, I have only played a few. Let’s face it, they’re best played in couch co-op mode with up to four players and I applaud TT Games for continuing to keep couch co-op a focus. The LEGO games offer a potent blend of accessibility for all ages, especially among younger players, while still having enough humor and puzzles to make sure the beat’em up combat doesn’t get too stale for adults. The last LEGO game I played for any extended amount of time was probably LEGO City Undercover at the Wii U launch, but I have found in my time thus far with MSH2 that the tried and true formula hasn’t changed much, which is both a good and potentially not-so-good thing.
In this latest Marvel adventure, which I believe is the third LEGO game now counting Avengers, players find themselves facing off against Kang in a battle of space and time. This story is written by author Kurt Busiek and picks up right after the events of the original Marvel Super Heroes game. Kang’s ability to warp these has created a bizarre place known as the Chronopolis, which pulls in design and thematic elements from a variety of Marvel universe space-times, including traditional Manhattan, a future version, Egypt, 2099, Wakanda, Xandar, heck even the Old West; all told, there are eighteen locations (which you can thankfully fast travel between). Players will traverse all of these areas as they pit their superteams against Kang’s endless forces in an effort to rid the world(s) of his evil presence. Certainly plenty of kid-friendly combat, puzzles involving time-shifting, jokes, and a vast quantity of references and fan-service await, but it’s not without some hiccups along the way.
Few things are more frustrating in a game then not knowing what the heck to do next. For me, this shows up in two forms at times, and I recognize that to some degree both are my own fault. First, it’s knowing what abilities your character has, and what gameplay mechanics are at your disposal — for example, if you have played a game for a while, you’re in a zone, and you’ve found the edges, so to speak, of how things work. However, if you walk away from that game for a few days, as is often the case for busy adults, you might come back and find the game much less enjoyable and harder until you can remember those specific mechanics. For MSH2, I ran into this type of situation somewhat with juggling the characters and their abilities and remembering who can do what and when. Not knowing the right combination can stall progress. Similarly, there are sometimes events in the gameworld you need to trigger that can be hidden a little more than I thought necessary, especially if you’re playing co-op with younger players that may, or may not, have trouble being patient while you search. Worst still are when these issues happen due to glitches in the game, which I have a little experience with and have read about too, forcing players to restart areas. It doesn’t matter how fun the game is, if you’re having to restart areas due to glitches, the fun factor tanks, fast.
These issues are not common enough to break the game experience entirely, but they do taint it somewhat. Patches can resolve some of it, the other more design-centric woes may not bother you to begin with or can otherwise be overcome with some additional patience. So underneath those drawbacks lies a pretty textbook TT Games LEGO game that’s got all of the charm that you’ve come to expect, but the formula may be starting to wear thin for some. I maintain the view that there is always more room in the genre, or even within a series, for another compelling entry. While MSH2 does not innovate, it does, other than some glitching and sketchy design decisions, provide another fun LEGO romp that’s best enjoyed in local co-op.