It doesn’t seem as though one can blink before a new LEGO game or Marvel movie is announced, not that that’s a bad thing of course, but following the success of the colliding franchises with LEGO Marvel Superheroes, it was only a matter of time before a sequel made it’s way to shore. Unlike a band of other LEGO games, LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 doesn’t rip or follow a plot from the big screen and instead offers up something fun and fresh to sink into. The big question is, has TT Games changed-up the tried and tired formula? Or have they played it safe and stuck to the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” concept? Sadly it’s the latter, which is a shame when you take into account that the recent LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game was so compelling and engaging. It’s a solid experience, for newcomers especially, but for returning LEGO game fans it’s not going to do much that you haven’t seen and played before.
Kang the Conqueror has stepped up as the antagonist in the place of Galactus from the first game. Kang’s taken several cherry picked worlds across different timelines and realities and has mashed them all up together to create a new world, outside of time, known as Chronopolis. Due to this weird and somewhat intriguing mash-up, a vast variety of superheroes have been swept up from all manners of eras in the aftermath and are itching to get some payback. The impressive scope that LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 utilises means you’ll be seeing a range of well known and not-so well known heroes and villains thrown into the mix. The most dominant characters are naturally the MCU heroes such as The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy, but other oddly named characters including Man-Ape, Klaww and Man-Thing (really? Stan Lee…really?) get some screen time to flex their plastic muscles. It goes without saying that inspiration and traits for the better known characters have been ripped from the movies, whereas the rest have been scraped from the bottom of the Marvel barrel to flesh out the cast.
Despite the basic premise the game does allow you to travel across a heap of different locations and eras. The problem however is that the aforementioned impressive scope of the game is one of the biggest downfalls. Often I found myself trying to keep up with the plot, or at least try to wrap my head around what the hell was going on, to shorty thereafter lose care for it completely. It just seems as though TT Games have bundled up too much in an attempt to boast a bigger game, but bigger doesn’t always mean better, as is the case with LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2. Granted the locations are diverse and well designed, despite most of it not being made out of LEGO, and the environments house those iconic secrets that sits well with the replay value, but it’s a few mash-ups too far to be considered well structured. Several variations of Manhattan are present, an alternate future Asgard, New Attilan and Egypt are but a few of the places the game will steer you towards, and back again once you unlock free play.
Voice acting in this game seems to have taken a turn for the worst, with many of the MCU characters sounding nothing like their movie counterparts. This isn’t a huge complaint but it’s certainly something that will have you scratching your head if you follow the films. As expected there’s no shortage of simplistic puzzle solving to break up the pace of play and hidden areas to entice you back for closer inspection with unlocked characters. You’ll even be collecting pink bricks for (wait for it) Gwenpool, whoever the hell that is. Outside of that you can take on a wide selection of quests, racers, and offer help to those in need, should you stick around long enough after doing this a gazillion times already either in this game or prior LEGO games. There’s no denying that this is a game that certainly plays better with a friend, which again can be achieved locally or via drop-in / drop-out online, because playing alone just feels so repetitive and bland. You can also take to some multiplayer fun in the form of Colour Clash and Battle Arena, which serves as a neat way to pass the time when you’re tired of the single-player sections.
Combat is as it always has been, but TT Games have done well to ensure that each of the countless characters within are well rounded and diverse enough to stand out. Boss battles on the other hand is fairly tedious and lacks much imagination, often challenging you with simply beating back grunts and laying an occasional backhand to the boss until it falls. It would have been nice to see more thought going into these encounters, more so when your thumbs are already tired from smashing up LEGO and roughing-up level enemies non-stop. When you are given the occasional thumb rest, there’s usually a puzzle to solve or someone to help, which as alluded to above is simplistic to the point of it not being considered a puzzle at all. Why? Because the game practically stuffs the solution to each puzzle in your face. This once again is a small thing to complain about given the target audience, but come on, at least provide some degree of difficulty rather than handing out the proverbial get out of jail free card.
Chronopolis is a hub that’s full of chores for you and your friends to take on, which will in-turn reward you with new characters, studs and more. I dare say there’s north of thirty hours worth of gameplay outside of the eight hour campaign, so you’re certainly getting a return on your investment if you enjoy maxing titles out. Another massively irritating downside is how the AI behaves and reacts to what you’re doing. Need help with a co-op themed puzzle? Don’t expect much from your AI companion, which (and I don’t say this lightly) is the worst AI companion since those found in Resident Evil 6. In fact don’t expect much of anything from your AI companion, because that’s exactly what you’re going to get. It doesn’t make the situation any better when you factor in numerous bugs that impede progression, such as getting stuck in the map or having your Ernest P. Worrell-esque companion getting stuck for you, again impeding progression. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 is a good looking game that does go on to pitch that iconic LEGO charm and humour, crammed with heaps of content and replay value, but none of that means diddly-squat when the game just isn’t compelling, exciting or problem free.
LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 is a step back for the franchise, which is a shame given the excellent recent release of LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game. Sure, there’s plenty of content to dive into and a massively impressive roster of characters, as well as several diverse and well designed environments, but this means very little when the actual gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. AI companions are shocking and absolutely irritating to the point of forcing you to plug in a second pad to get the job they were tasked with, done. There’s also far too much going on to comfortably digest the plot in the sense of where you are going and what you’re doing. Boss battles are nowhere near as inventive as they could have been. Puzzle solving is present but practically pointless due to the fact that everything is basically answered for you. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 is a good looking game that undoubtedly throws heaps of content on your lap, but it’s a game that lacks imagination and comes with very little challenge. It’s time for TT Games to truly reinvent the formula and bring something new to the table, because this is ten steps back following a steady step forward. It’s not a rubbish game, it’s just not particularly interesting, especially for returning fans that have seen this all before.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.