It struck me whilst playing Lego Batman 2 last year that a Marvel equivalent would be surely be a massive hit. I liked Lego Batman 2 and all, but I wasn’t as experienced with the characters from DC as I am from Marvel, both in the comic history and the recent blockbuster movies, so I was very excited when this title was announced and have been waiting patiently ever since, as I would imagine that many have been. The main thing I was concerned with (apart from whether it was any good or not!) was the version that we would see; would it be a conversion of the console title or simply a port of the 3DS version, as all of the previous themed games have been?
I’ll get that bit answered straight away as it’s not the console version and is the same as the 3DS one. The Vita version does benefit from slightly superior visuals and has touch controls built in – in theory you could play through the whole game using the touch screen, although I wouldn’t recommend it – but it’s not the console version at all, a heavily compressed and condensed version with many cut backs but still manages to fit a little bit of Marvel charm and character.
The story begins with an encounter with the Silver Surfer, who is being tacked down by S.H.I.E.L.D and Iron Man when his board is shattered into powerful “cosmic bricks”, Doctor Doom forms an alliance with Loki and with the other villains in the Marvel Universe they team up to do their usual bad guy stuff, before an appearance by Galactus – who is a little more more menacing than he was in Fantastic Four 2 – and thus you will spend the vast majority of the game using a variety of heroes to save the world.
If you are used to the previous Lego themed titles, you may be a bit surprised with the control set up and the way the game plays. There is no longer jumping at all – which is in complete contrast to its console equivalent – so to reach higher platforms you will need to use character capable of climbing, flying or swinging. Pressing X will make you dash rapidly, Triangle will use your ranged weapon (should you have one) and Square is your melee move. Some characters can also use the Circle to inflict harm on enemies. In a complete contrast to normal, you can also fail levels now. Previously if you lost all of your hearts you would respawn on the screen (minus a few lego studs) but now you will have to restart the level.
You have to fight your way through 15 different missions, starting in New York, and visits many other memorable locations such as Stark’s Tower, Hydra’s Lair, Xavier’s Mansion and Asgard. the game culminates with an epic face-off on the S.H.I.E.L.D Heli-carrier. All of these missions are broken down further into three bite sized chunks, with the third typically being a boss fight. There is no longer any character switching during the mission, you do have a set AI partner that can be called in when ready and uses a “tag” move to assist you when needed. Even when using free play you no longer have a squad of characters to choose from, you can select any character you wish, but the tag partner is always set per level. Thankfully you can switch between the two characters then.
This heavily simplifies the exploring mechanics and makes the objectives for each level far simpler than has been seen before in previous games, which was a bit of a disappointment. Before each level you are tasked with 10 objectives, which vary from completing the mission without damage or in time, rescuing civilians, Stan Lee (!), clearing all enemies or even character specific challenges. This serves as the long term replay value for the game and will be your main source of unlocking many of the sizeable character list.
Many of your favourites will be present, but what was a shame was how similar they play, many are essentially just reskins of each other or just multiples. I love Iron Man, but did we need seven different MK armours, as well as War Machine, Iron Patriot and Pepper in the suit? Especially when so many of the villains are not available. Perhaps they are saving them for Marvel Super Villains.
The visuals are simplistic, but it conveys that familliar Lego charm, and as is the norm for Lego titles these days the characters are voiced giving more strength to the plot during the cut scenes. The cut scenes themselves still look a little off on the Vita screen, but it is much better than previous efforts. It certainly has a comic book feel about it, which is supported by a very recognisable trophy list – many of the trophy names are nods to events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and you will have some fun working your way through them whilst aiming for a very achievable platinum.
It took me around 15 hours from start to platinum and I did enjoy the game, the new approach was very welcome in many aspects; Traveller’s Tales and TT Fusion should be commended for trying something new but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Lego Batman 2.
The game was overly simplified in many ways and I was left wanting so much more. I know that Lego titles are predominantly aimed at a younger audience, but there was little challenge in the game. It’s certainly worth playing, but for what you get at the full price, it’s difficult to recommend.