The latest Lego title, much like all of Traveller's Tales Lego games, appeals to gamers of any age group. Here's our Lego Marvel Super Heroes review
There's a moment early on in Lego Marvel Superheroes that lets you know you're in safe hands. After the opening battle in which players use Spiderman, Iron Man and the Hulk to take down Sandman, a cut-scene plays in which Nick Fury demands that Agent Maria Hill order lunch for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s team.
“Let's get shawarmas,” he says. “Stark knows a place.” Hill responds by waving a menu in his face in such a way that leaves no one in doubt with what she thinks of Fury's order: you want shawarmas, pal, you can get 'em yourself.
The fact that Traveller's Tales is confident enough that anyone playing this game will know about Stark's interest in shawarmas or who Agent Hill is or even the dynamic that plays out between her and Fury speaks volumes.
Lego Marvel Superheroes is a game made by Marvel fans for Marvel fans. It's a testament to the solid foundations of the Lego games that this overriding factor won't eat into your enjoyment of this title, even if you don't know who the hell any of these characters are.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Gameplay
One of the reasons for this is that the basic template for Lego Marvel Superheroes is comfortingly familiar. Anyone who has played one of these games since Lego Star Wars back in 2006 will know what to expect.
The lion's share of the player's (or players') activities are bashing blocks, collecting studs, knocking over enemies, platforming, building Lego contraptions, picking up collectibles and solving the odd puzzle. It's a formula as rigid as it is tried-and-tested.
That having been said, one of the reasons Traveller's Tales has been able to get away with leaving the core experience of most of its games unchanged is that the developer tosses enough new kinks into the mix.
So, for example, while you still collect studs and smash enemies with Iron Man, you can also fly about and use his repulsor rays. You can fire trick arrows with Hawkeye. You can smash things with Hulk… yes, all right, that one is a bit obvious.
The gameplay isn't perfect. For example, we found ourselves stalled early on in the game when we were trying to navigate our way through the Baxter Building with Mr Fantastic and Captain America; we came across a door which, when highlighted, told us we needed a web-slinger to continue. We didn't realise for quite a while that Mr Fantastic could fulfil this function quite adequately.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Features
The other reasons players will easily invest in Lego Marvel Superheroes are that it's front-loaded with fan-baiting content and the writing is as sharp as a tack.
First up, the game is simply bursting with hidden content. Like other entries in the series, players will find areas where they'll need a character with a certain ability to access it, who won't be available on their first play-through.
They'll find Lego sets and Gold Bricks. They'll be inspired to scour all the levels again and again for collectibles. Stan the man Lee is even hidden about the levels and it requires some exploration to dig him out. The depth of content to uncover here is quite simply staggering.
Second, the game is both funny and inviting, regardless of whether you're a fan of the Marvel Universe – although if you are, you'll get far more out of it. Traveller's Tales takes its main visual stylistic cues from the recent spate of Marvel films – hence the shawarma gag – but it also digs deep into Marvel's back catalogue, tossing references, plot points and esoteric characters into the mix. This is probably the only game you'll play this decade where Howard The Duck is an unlockable character.
The developers also give players the opportunity to simply tool about with the characters they've unlocked by providing an open-world city as a hub. Players are able to explore a huge Lego version of New York using any of the multitude of characters they have unlocked and the map itself is bursting with collectibles. You could spend days in there.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Verdict
In other words, Lego Marvel Superheroes is exactly the sort of game one would expect from Traveller's Tales if you'd had any experience with any of the developer's previous efforts. If this developer's previous work has left you cold, this game won't change your mind.
However, if you're a fan of the Marvel Universe or if you even have a passing interest in the recent Marvel films, this game will scratch any itch you happen to have. It's a stunning piece of games craftsmanship and any gamer of any age is likely to be seduced.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes release date: Out now
Lego Marvel Super Heroes price: £39.99 (on Xbox 360)