LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Review

The Good:

     Lego Marvel Super Heroes shows both how amazingly far Traveler's Tales has come in transforming famous worlds into Lego lands since Lego Star Wars in 2005, and how badly the problems still linger.

     Traveler's Tales have successfully recreated New York City in this game- it feels positively full and alive.  There's always a ton of Lego people and vehicles roaming.  An endless supply of denizens almost strategically in your path while going about their tiny brick business.  This city is absolutely loaded with people and vehicles, much more than the oddly empty Middle Earth map from Lego Lord of the Rings.
     This is where the game outshines all it's predecessors- in the capacity for free roaming New York City and the makers of Marvel Ultimate Alliance should take note.  They've moved towards an open world sandbox, but aren't quite there yet.  In truth the core gameplay could be reduced greatly, because many have grown tired of the old Lego game formula of having to replay every level at least twice to unlock the characters and items hidden within- which is really the only reason anyone still does it.

The Not-So-Good:

     It is fairly irritating that TT boasts that the game has "Over 100 Playable Characters," but makes you play all the story levels with a mere dozen or so.  I know they are tying it to the Avengers and other movie franchises which heavily influence the game.  Tons of X-men and Fantastic Four heroes and villains, with a few miscellaneous oddities like Howard the Duck and Squirrel Girl.  They even got Clark Gregg and Stan Lee to do voice acting, and Nolan North reprises his video game Deadpool voice.  Which leads me to another annoyance- Deadpool is a huge fan favorite, and he is one of the LAST obtainable playable characters you can get.
     Why can't we be given a large selection right off the bat?  By the time I've unlocked all the characters I like my interest has waned considerably.  In this case, not quite as much, but ONLY because of the free roaming.  Players want more initial character availability, not having to spend so many hours unlocking our favorites that we've grown bored with the game.

Things I really enjoyed:
1)  Venom's transformation both to and from Ultimate Venom.
2)  Pots hitting randomly Magneto in the head.
3)  Dormammu shoots flaming skulls that roll around after hitting things.
3)  Wolverine's healing from an adamantium skeleton to full bodied mutant.
4)  Black Bolt's "voice."
5)  Create-a-character.  The combinations of powers are mix-and-match.

Now the REALLY bad...

     One thing that TT apparently lacks is knowing how to map buttons.  Seriously, the bumpers and triggers are largely ignored in favor of having many tasks assigned to the 4 face buttons.  Having the "build," "action," and "context switch" buttons all being the O button is one of the most laughable mistakes possible.The triangle button covers both character swapping and character transformations- when the bumpers control swapping, why not leave the triangle button solely for transformations?!?  There are 4 barely used buttons- divide them up!  Seriously, this should have been addressed years ago, and not a persistant issue after so many games in the franchise.  I understand this is a game geared towards children, but if I have difficulty with these controls, a child will be that much more frustrated by them.

     AND THE FLIGHT CONTROLS!!!  Whoever decided to NOT use the 2 joysticks method that EVERY OTHER GAME EVER has used needs to be fired.  Instead we get the extremely counter-intuitive joystick and 2 buttons.  On PS3 it's X and O-  X makes you go upwards and will rocket you forward if double tapped, and O has the reverse effect of descending and if double tapped dropping you completely out of flight into a fall.  This is a horrendous choice for a control scheme.  It is awkward.  Not only that it makes the flight challenges ridiculously difficult.
     The remote control cars controls are even more absurd, but I'll let players discover how they are handled, because the game doesn't ever tell you- which is hilarious because it'll give you hints 1,000 times for something it tells you how to do in the first 5 minutes of the game, but won't bother to mention a completely different way to drive a vehicle, unlike anything else in the game.  All the repetitive hints get to be such an annoyance because they cover the lower 3rd of the screen.  And they happen every couple of minutes or so.  We need an option to shut them off.  (Possibly add the constant shift away mini cut-scenes that fill the levels, or at least make them faster)

     The biggest complaint I have- WHERE'S THE MULTIPLAYER CO-OP?!?  There is no reason we shouldn't have 4 player online co-op.  Especially during the free roam city time.  It's been long enough and needs to be added to the Lego games.

     In almost a decade and 20-some odd games, these are issues that should've been remedied years ago.  They've made a tremendous effort with Lego Marvel Super Heroes, most notably in the open world portion, but haven't quite made it good enough to compete with games like Skyrim or Far Cry 3.  The newer open world format is where the future Lego games should focus, complete with full multiplayer options, and for the love of whatever Lego deities might be out there- break up the button mapping.  Traveler's Tales has a chance to make something truly astounding with their next Lego installment- they just need to listen.

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