Hands on with LEGO Marvel Avengers

Being a fan of LEGO and Iron Man, was there a shocker as to why I’d get this game?

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After a number of trade-ins to build up my store credit (and make packing easier during the move), I decided to pre-order the newest LEGO game. After the fiasco with the 3DS version of LEGO Marvel Superheroes (hint: don’t buy it!), I decided to go with an actual console version. As pre-ordering it for a console and not the PC netted me an awesome LEGO Silver Centurion figure, I went with the Wii U version of the game.

As my router has been really weird with my Wii U, I couldn’t get my own screenshots, so I snagged some from LEGO themselves and went from there.

==Pre-Order Bonus==

One of my primary reasons for pre-ordering this game was the sweet-looking bonus of an Iron Man Silver Centurion minifigure. As I’ve been slowly collecting Iron Man Minifigures (both official and unofficial; the high costs of the new sets are keeping me from the newer ones), this was a no-brainer.

The opened bag! *gasp*
The opened bag! *gasp*

The figure itself comes in a polybag of 12 LEGO pieces that will allow you to build the Mark 33 Silver Centurion. In the bag, you’ll get the minifigure itself as well as the parts to build the chest piece.

The figure itself is well-detailed. On most normal figures, we see just the chest and the front of the legs printed, but on this figure the arms and sides of the legs are also printed with additional details fitting for the character design.

Note the details. On a normal figure, we only see plain red on the arms and side of the legs.
Note the details. On a normal figure, we only see plain red on the arms and side of the legs.

The face is also rather amusing. Lately, we get one face that is “normal” and one face that is “angry.” This time, we have a normal face and one that shows that our pal Tony has been beaten up.

Did you tell Cap that you accidentally set fire to a flag while flying by?
Did you tell Cap that you accidentally set fire to a flag while flying by?

The chestplate on this figure consists of three parts: the plate, the reactor, and a panel on the back that I’m assuming is tied to thrusters. These additional panels are also well detailed, making this a gorgeous figure.

The back panel of the armor. Looking good!
The back panel of the armor. Looking good!

One last perk of getting the figure is a little code on the corner of the package. If you don’t want to open your package to see the figure in person, if you missed getting the chance to pre-order it, or if you just want to see the minifigure in action in the game, this code will take care of that for you. It was a nice touch adding the code to the package that can be used in-game.

Oh, and if you like the way it looks and want to see it in the game, the code is: 4AKZ4G.

Now you too can take this bad boy for a spin!
Now you too can take this bad boy for a spin!

The figure is currently selling on ebay for anywhere between 20-30 still in the bag. If you want the real figure, buuy the one in a bag. Trust me on this, as SY (one of the bootleg companies) just released their own Silver Centurion figure that looks almost identical to the real deal. I don’t have a bootleg to compare it yet, but some people are unscrupulous enough to sell the bootleg version as the real deal for a major markup (when you can buy the figure and 7 others for $8 after shipping if you know where to look). If you just like the way it looks, snag the bootleg, otherwise, get the bagged version.

==The Pitch==

Like most LEGO games, this is taking a beloved franchise and putting it into LEGO form. In this particular game, you are following the Avengers of the cinematic universe through The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

While LEGO Marvel Superheroes technically took place after the first Avengers, it was a pure spin-off. This one is staying true to the films by including scenes and lines from the movies, with a LEGO twist.

==What You Get==

If you’ve ever played ANY of the LEGO games released in the past decade or more, you should know what you are getting. The game is a LEGO rendition of the two films with nods to a number of the side films between them, in addition to including a number of well-loved Marvel characters in LEGO form.

==The Good==

It’s LEGO and Marvel’s Avengers. Already, that’s a good note and a one-up in my book. This particular version of the game is using direct lines from the film (literally), so as you play, you hear the original actors. Granted, the majority of the voices are archived directly from the film, but you get Clark Gregg (Coulson), Hayley Atwell (Agent Peggy Carter), and Cobie Smulders (Agent Hill) adding some fresh lines here and there. There’s quite the collection of voice actors for this game, and it’s nice to see a number of the original characters coming back instead of random voice actors like in the previous round.

Like most LEGO games, there’s quite the cast. I went ahead and bought the season pass, giving me another 40(ish?) characters, and I don’t even know how many in total there are to unlock as I’m still playing it. If it’s anything like the last round, I’ll probably be seeing somewhere between 110-150 characters, if not more.

Stan Lee even gets his own buster!
Stan Lee even gets his own buster!

Again, like most LEGO games, you get to see some figures and vehicles that exist with LEGO sets. This game included some new characters/figures that were literally just released, such as the Iron Skull (Red Skull in Iron Man armor), as well as some characters that are making waves but have yet to come out in a set (like Ms. Marvel).
It’s times like this I really wish LEGO would just release a batch of minifigures so I can buy a bunch of Marvel heroes I like to adorn my wall (and NOT have to buy bootlegs).

If you’ve ever played a LEGO game, you’ll be right at home with the controls. Outside of a few tweaks, the game will control just like the previous ones: move, jump, attack, special, and character swapping.

Even though you get a lot of the old, there’s a few new things tossed into this one. For example, as you fight, you build up a special gauge, and you can spend it in parts as a solo attack (an insta-kill on standard foes) or as a joint attack (which is normally an area attack).

Some abilities have also been tweaked, and it seems like the characters are more capable than before. As an example, in LEGO Marvel Superheroes, if you wanted to finish a level at 100%, you needed someone with explosives, heat, electricity, flight, mind control, digging, super strength, ranged attacks, intelligence, telekinesis, super senses, and shrinking/phasing, just to name a few. Depending on who you unlocked, you could be playing the same level multiple times or swapping character often to get it all done. Now, some of the character fulfill more than one role.
For example, Hawkeye can shoot various arrows that can explode silver bricks, melt gold bricks, act as a web (for pulling), and sonic arrows break additional things. Black Widow is not only agile and uses guns, but she can turn invisible and, thanks to her gear, fulfill an electronic requirement, including scanning areas (which replaces super senses).
Oh, and Tony Stark can swap armors mid-level in free-play with an amusing animation for each, giving him quite the plethora of powers at his disposal; one suit gives him stealth powers, while another allows him to run quickly for footraces. He’s also a mechanically inclined character, which allows him to repair broken objects, as well as scan areas.

Some movement powers have also been improved this round. While flying, you can use the second stick to steer where you are going, which makes climbing, diving, and racing so much easier. Every character that can fly can now “charge” their first jump, which sends them to a rather high height (over most buildings) for easy flight. The Hulk also gets an ability that lets him do some major leaps in the same vein. Quicksilver is probably one of the more amusing ones, as his entire power is to allow him to run quickly, allowing him to ace most road races with ease.

If you have been following the various Marvel lines, you will notice that this game combines the classic comic nods (including a number of characters that I had to look up) with the Cinematic Universe (including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and tosses in the newest Marvel comic lines. You can play as Thor: Goddess of Thunder, Falcon as Captain America, Ms. Marvel, the classic Doctor Strange, and of course Squirrel Girl (with her own Squirrelbuster armor!).

Beware her unbeatable powers!
Beware her unbeatable powers!

This doesn’t end with the characters. For example, when Coulson is killed by Loki, Nick Fury shows up and puts a vacation ticket on his chest (a nod to project TAHITI). Coulson also makes a joke about not putting marks on the walls anymore when you stop criminals in free play mode (another nod to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). You also see some of the side films and shows in action with regards to characters and gimmicks. I already had to help Luke Cage with some SHIELD rookies, and I’m sure I’ll be running into more shenanigans soon enough.

One of the best parts of the game is the LEGO-inspired comedy. All of the characters are easily recognizable, but major tense scenes are a bit more light hearted thanks to LEGO.

"He's Adopted."
“He’s Adopted.”

As an example, when Banner ends up Hulking out on the helicarrier, it isn’t just Loki messing with his head as we see in the film. It starts that way, but when something explodes, Banner gets hit in the groin, bumps his head, and even gets hit in the face with a broom, causing him to lose control.
This adds a new spin on most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is much appreciated so it doesn’t feel like it is pure regurgitation (which it can as you are literally playing along with the film for a chunk of the game).

Oh, and there’s a special bit of fan service after you finish the story mode. They listened to fans and mad Stan Lee a janitor for an extra scene. If you don’t know where they were going with this, you should look it up!

==The Bad==

One of the biggest gripes with the game is the similarities to the previous games. You have the same controls and almost identical gameplay from game to game, with the biggest difference being in the theme. Sure, you get the specific theme and upgraded graphics, but you aren’t getting a major game. In a way, it’s similar to Call of Duty or Street Fighter: if you’ve played one, you’ve almost played all of them.

Another issue on that same vein was the recycled elements. While running around the helicarrier in free-play mode, I noticed that it is almost 100% identical to the previous version with the exception of Deadpool’s room (now a room that connects you to the Collector’s Room) and maybe a few minor elements. I had the same feeling while running around New York City: not much has changed outside of looking (and running) a little bit smoother. I can’t really tell if it was laziness, smart programming practice, or something else, but I did feel slightly cheated with an almost identical open-world setting from the previous game.

The next big gripe I’ve run into is actual the voice acting. Yes, it’s great they pulled from the films, but they didn’t do it WELL. Throughout the game, you can tell which lines are from the film and which are new, because the sound quality is a dead giveaway.
During cutscenes, the voices sound a bit distant, like they recorded the movie as it was playing. You can still hear everything, but it’s not as loud as expected. When my wife asked a question while the voices were going, I actually couldn’t hear them over her. My cat meowing was louder than that.
This situation is even worse when you are not in a cutscene. It’s almost as though the recorded the line from their TV speaker and then ducked it into the game but made the sound effects of the gameplay louder than the voice acting. If I didn’t have the subtitles on, I wouldn’t know what any of the lead characters were saying. Amusingly enough, if it’s new dialog (like Agents Carter, Hill, or Coulson), there’s not an issue. Clearly it’s a problem with the archive recordings, but I don’t think there’s a way to fix that.

Having subtitles is a double-edged sword, as there are times I’m running around NYC and I see random text from a passer-by, but there is no one on the screen to say it. Apparently it picks up on people speaking from blocks away, and I can’t find them.

And on that note: glitches. While this game seems a bit more stable than previous versions, there’s still a number of random snags that I’ve faced. There are invisible and silent NPCs talking to add subtitles to the list (sometimes cutting off actual conversation needed from a major character), flames that won’t entirely go out that you can’t see but will still burn you, etc. One time, I was hitting a car for studs and Captain America got stuck until it until I swapped to another character and ran far enough away to get them out. Another time I was running through a level as Black Widow, but when I needed Iron Man, he was glitched in a wall and couldn’t get out. A bit frustrating, but not nearly as game breaking as the fiasco I had in previous LEGO games (like when a boss is out of health but still keeps fighting).

Free-play mode is rife with glitches (studs disappearing, characters vanishing, Iron Man “free falling” upward instead of downward), but it is especially obvious when you are playing as Quicksilver. I’m not sure if it was on purpose or not, but the character is just all over the place. Moving normally isn’t a big deal, but as soon as you use his powers, the physics engine simply falls apart: if you jump, hit a ramp, or even hit a wall you’ll just go flying around. Turning is crazy, and I have had times I would run and as soon as I hit a hill, I’d go flying into a wall at the bottom of the hill. Some weird physics going on here, and I can’t tell if it is buggy or something they did on purpose.

While the game has been cleaned up, there are some inaccuracies with the controls. It is easy to fall off edges during combat due to certain combat animations (this makes Quicksilver almost unplayable in certain areas and stages), and if you are trying to aim a beam weapon for any reason (this includes lightning), you need to be facing it almost exactly and THEN fire the beam. Otherwise, you can have the cursor on it but nothing will happen as the beam is hitting something else. It doesn’t break the game too often and is easy enough to remedy by changing your approach, but it is rather frustrating.

The final concern I have is the repetition in gameplay, both in mini-games and QTEs. Every time you wish to scan an area, there’s a little mini-game that goes with it. This isn’t bad on it’s own, but when you have to do it three or four times within a five minute spurt, it is frustrating and slows down the gameplay. The quicktime events are sporadic as well, and they often repeat the animation multiple times.

At random times, you’ll see a button appear above your character, and you are expected to mash it repeatedly, in time with an event, or hold it down (you often have to guess at it), to ensure that a specific thing happens. There’s seldom a sign that it’s actually working, as if you fail, you’ll often have to repeat an animation, and if you succeed, you’ll be repeating the animation as you’re supposed to do it a set number of times.

The part that I hated the most was one of the best scenes, in my opinion, of the film: Hulk vs the Hulkbuster. Outside of a few moments you can walk around as the Hulkbuster (often cut short by the Hulk randomly acting to push things ahead) or when you have to take control of VERONICA to send things to Stark, it’s one giant QTE that is on repeat. Each step is a repeat of the other: you dodge (or fail at dodging) the Hulk’s charge, blast him, grapple, break, tackle, repeatedly punch (“Go to sleep go to sleep”), get knocked away, and repeat. This wasn’t so bad at first until I realized nearly every scene of animation was the same thing. I don’t think I’ll play the scene again unless I forgot to unlock something, which is sad to admit due to my love of the scene in the film (and the Hulkbuster).

==The Mixed==

There are some parts that aren’t inherently good, but not inherently bad depending on how you look at it.

One thing that did irk me as I entered some of the free-play/open-world zones is the lack of a map. You still have your minimap in the corner, but you can’t open a larger map and set waypoints, so you are relying on the various little dots on the minimap to draw you around. A bit frustrating if you want to quickly unlock all of the characters, but it may not be too bad for anyone who wants to get the most out of the game.

The lines from the film are thrown in sporadically, and they often don’t make sense to what is going on. It makes sense for Cap to say “If you get hurt, walk it off” when he’s defeated (not the exact line from the film, but they kept it rated G), but when Widow shouts “I’m multitasking!” when she uses a special move to hit a SINGLE target, it’s a bit out of place. I was also running around a free zone and Widow shouted “It’s just like Budapest!” without any context. My wife hated the lines being thrown around in odd places, and for some of them, I had to agree, but others, they fit.

The fights have gotten a bit quirkier as well. Most enemies take quite a bit more to defeat, making the fastest way to defeat them your special moves. This makes fights more interesting, but a number of fights have unlimited enemies that come in rather large waves to keep you from getting to a non-combat related object (like a box with bricks to build something). It’s fun to kill endless waves of enemies, but it can get old fast, especially when you need to get to THAT ONE PLACE but need a moment to figure out how, with which character, and sold the puzzle in the process.

Bosses also benefit from this as well. Like before, bosses often have a requirement you must complete before you can harm them (defeat X enemies, use an item, etc). Unlike before, we have more QTEs being thrown around that make you wait until a set period occurs, regardless of what else you do.
In the fight against Ultron, you start by running around and getting items to build; easy enough there. It’s more frustrating, though, when you are fighting an unlimited number of enemies and have to WAIT for him to finally use his Crazy Death Beam that you need to have a QTE to dodge a set number of times before you can finally hit him.
It’s a mixed bag. Some fights it adds to the game, but others it just adds more time and feels as though it’s just padding the game.

==The Verdict==

Rating 4 Stars

I’ll give LEGO Marvel Avengers 4 buns.

The game is fun, addicting, and has a ton of things to do, whether it’s unlocking characters or just running around New York City causing problems for civilians. It can lose some appeal if you’ve gotten 100% on LEGO Marvel Superheroes, the glitches can get frustrating (but aren’t too game breaking), and it loses points for recycling assets to a major degree. I’m being rather critical with this review, and even with all of the nitpicking, it’s still worth playing.

You get a Squirrel Girl Squirrelbuster. If THAT isn’t enough to get you to play this completely ridiculous approach to the Avengers, then you clearly don’t have a soul.

If you want a game that you’ll be working at for hours to unlock everything, or even just a game that will keep you busy without feeling like you are grinding forever, go ahead and pick this up. It’s well worth the pricetag, and trust me: even with a guide, you’ll be at it for a long while.

Play it or New York gets it!
Play it or New York gets it!

LEGO Marvel Avengers is out now for Wii U (reviewed), PS4, XBox One, 3DS, and is available on PC via Steam.

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