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.

Lego Marvel 2

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.

Lego Marvel 3

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.

Lego Marvel 4

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.

  • fatdog21

    Great review! It did cross my mine to buy it till i heard it was the 3ds version. I can understand why they would just port that version onto vita (mainly because they not goin sale alot on vita) but it still sux…

  • Brian Sharon

    Spectacular review Paul! I keep hoping for a proper LEGO game on Vita, but I’m constantly disappointed.

    • André Rocha

      Honestly I think Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey is pretty awesome both visually (way better than its 3DS brother) and gameplay wise.

      • http://thevitalounge.net/ Paul Murphy

        Rhys reviewed Legends of Chima for us and loved it; I think it helps that it was built for the Vita and ported to the 3DS rather than has been the case for the other titles. :(

        • André Rocha

          I think they should make that standard. Everytime they make a dedicated handheld game, or even a console port, they should build it for the Vita and then port to the 3DS. I’m pretty sure many games would sell better on the Vita if they weren’t poor 3DS ports.

          I can only imagine how great the other LEGO games would have been if they were made for the Vita and ported to the 3DS instead of otherwise. LEGO Batman 2 cutscenes are just horrible :s

  • André Rocha

    When this game was first announced I was so excited because I loved playing with some DC characters on Batman and now I would be able to play some Marvel’s but then I saw the first ps vita version gameplay and it was like a huge black cloud came over my head and an ugly storm started ruining my shiny day. What in the world was that I was seeing!? Time to complete missions!? Wait, what!? Replay the entire chapter when losing all hearts? No “open” world alike (aka hubs) like LOTR, Batman, LOC:LJ and HP!? What a let down.

    Even if its a free ride for the platinum I wouldn’t pay €5 for the game. IF someone gives me the game, yes I will play it and get all trophies but after that I will get rid of it as fast as I can.

  • Lester Paredes

    Great review, Paul. I borrowed this game from a friend not that long ago and I totally agree with you. You managed to point out everything I had a problem with in it and all the stuff I actually enjoyed. As much as I am loathe to admit, I actually liked how they turned it into a sort of brawler with more exploration than your usual Final Fight/Streets of Rage game, But the levels are soooooo short, they’re over just when they begin to get good. Seeing an actual failure screen the first time I died was shocking, considering my history of previous Lego games. Still, I was desperately sad because it was just a port from the 3DS with prettier graphics, However, taken on it’s own (AKA Don’t compare it to the superior Console/PC versions), this is a pretty fun game. You are correct, though, in stating how it’s a hard recommendation at full price. Once it drops to $15 or less, I’ll buy it, but not before.

  • WhyWai

    thank for the review…

  • GeminiR

    Having played both the PS3 and Vita versions, certainly they are a Bifrost leap apart… however, the vita version is fun and portable, and I think the only outrageous part is the full price. Yet, last week this game was included in a ‘Superhero Sale’ event by Sony, and sold through the PS Store at USD 6.40! It was a great, great deal at that price! The Vita so far is proving to be a great machine, if only Sony managed to finally admit that portable games are limited, and stopped asking those ridiculous prices…