Review: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

The LEGO games have tackled numerous film-based franchises over the years. From Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings, Traveller’s Tales have done it all, except the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Following 2013’s successful LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Traveller’s Tales is dipping back into the world of Marvel. Instead of an original story, LEGO Marvel Avengers adapts the two Avengers films and a few solo films into LEGO form. Is LEGO Marvel’s Avengers the superhero game Marvel fans have been waiting for, or do Hawkeye and team miss the bullseye?

If you couldn’t tell by the title, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is a strict adaptation of Disney’s two Avengers films, The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Aside from a prologue chapter from Age of Ultron, the story is mostly told in chronological order starting with Loki’s entrance from The Avengers, and ending with a final battle against Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. As a strict adaptation, don’t expect to see any new content not previously released in the films. If you loved the two Avengers films, then you’ll probably enjoy replaying them in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. If you were left wanting more, then you’re unlikely to find this adaptation satisfying.

Though advertised with content from Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers does little to tie these films into the narrative. Aside from The First Avenger, the other films are treated as side-missions and can’t be played during the main campaign. Not that there’s much content in each of these solo adaptations, as each film only gets a single level. The Avengers films were given top priority, a disappointment considering how good some of these solo films are.

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Of course, this isn’t to say that LEGO Marvel’s Avengers lacks content. In fact, it’s bursting with content. Like any good LEGO game, Avengers comes jam-packed with over 100 characters to unlock and play as. Many of them are variants (i.e. many different Iron Man suits), but it’s nice to have the variety. These characters are unlocked by playing the story missions, finding their hidden tokens in missions, or purchasing them from the giant open-world. Yes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers contains a huge open-world and a few smaller locations.

New York City is completely open for players to explore, fight random crime, and play around in. In addition, there are seven smaller areas – Asgard, Malibu, South Africa, the Helicarrier, Sokovia, the Barton’s Farm, and Washington D.C. – for players to run around in. Though there are no random crimes in these smaller areas, but players can still find and unlock new characters, collect a ton of studs, and destroy a lot of LEGO objects.

There’s a lot of content, but it’s not hard to feel the absence of numerous Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor feel missed, especially since The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron require players to understand the ongoing narrative and relationships between key characters. Guardians of Galaxy, one of Marvel’s most popular films, is completely absent. A free Ant-Man DLC mission is currently planned for release on PS4 and PS3 later this year (other platforms are unknown), but it would have been nice to have that content at launch. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a lot to offer, and it feels like a missed opportunity not to include these films.

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This is a LEGO game, and as such you should expect it to play just like a LEGO game. You’ll punch, kick, solve simple puzzles, and use different character’s special abilities to progress through the game’s chapters. Iron Man and Thor can fly and reach high-up objects. Loki and Scarlet Witch can levitate heavy objects and trick NPCs with mind-control. Hawkeye can shoot arrows that break glass, blow up metal, and melt gold. Each character is unique, and players will need to their unique abilities to collect all the hidden goodies.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers does have one new trick up its sleeve, cinematic team combos. Two characters can team up to perform a flashy combo that wipes out all nearby enemies. There’s also an increased emphasis on QTEs, which give LEGO Marvel Avengers the most cinematic look of any LEGO game. While this all looks cool, these cinematic actions end up taking too much control from the player. The Hulk vs. Iron Man Hulk Buster suit was almost entirely a QTE, and one that got old as the same animations played out over and over again. The QTEs look cool, but the LEGO series was never built for QTEs.

Co-op play also takes a serious hit, as some levels just aren’t designed for the co-op experience. This is mostly due to LEGO Marvel’s Avengers’ strict adherence to the plot of the films. Some scenarios the heroes face in the film just don’t translate into a co-op experience. For example, in the Hulk battle mentioned above, the second player is forced to play as the Veronica satellite, which doesn’t do much during the mission. Now, there are some excellent co-op sections in LEGO Marvel Avengers, but this is the first LEGO game where co-op play can actually get downright dull.

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Traveller’s Tales’ strict adherence to the films seeps into LEGO Marvel’s Avengers’ presentation, for better or worse. First off, the game looks good with some surprisingly photorealistic environments. Locations like Asgard, Sokovia,and New York City look fantastic as LEGO bricks. Asgard, in particular, looks fantastic thanks to its impressive architecture and locales, which makes the small amount of time its available in LEGO Marvel Avengers that much more disappointing.

While everything looks good, it doesn’t sound good. Traveller’s Tales ripped the audio straight from the films, but it never sounds natural. This method worked in LEGO The Lord of the Rings, but just comes off as unnatural and poorly implemented here. There is a lot of awkward silences and line repetition because the original cast never returned to record new dialogue. Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), and Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) were the only original actors to reprise their roles for the game, lending new dialogue to sections that the main cast doesn’t speak. Traveller’s Tales did hire actors to read new dialogue for some minor characters (i.e. Pepper Potts), but the quality varies wildly with it sometimes being downright cringe worthy.

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Closing Comments:

LEGO Dimensions felt like much-needed innovation for a game series that has seen little change since its inception in 2006. Unfortunately, LEGO Marvel Avengers didn’t take many of those innovations to heart. This is the same formula we’ve seen for years, but done better in older games. Traveller’s Tales strict adherence to the Avengers films is admirable, but ends up hurting the game more than it helps. While a decent action-adventure title, Avengers does little to innovate or set itself apart from a vast library of superior LEGO games. If you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are fine playing solo and partial to the LEGO formula, then you might enjoy LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. If you’re not one of those people? Well, there’s a vast library of other LEGO titles for you to enjoy.