Also On: Xbox One, Switch, PC,
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
How the Marvel franchise is utilized across games is a bit of a scattered mess (similarly to how the comics are currently). Some games feature the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU as I?ve mentioned in previous reviews), some use the Marvel comic versions and some use a hodgepodge of both. Unlike 2013?s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (which featured the Marvel comic universe), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 features the hodgepodge for better or worse. So in many ways this is a sequel to the 2013 Marvel Super Heroes, but also a sequel to the LEGO Avengers game that was mostly based on the MCU.
Taking the good with the bad on mixing the movie and comic universes is extremely subjective. Personal preference is key if it matters to you at all how the character mini figures look and act, but there?s also another side to the coin. You see, Marvel has had somewhat of an unofficial feud with featuring the characters that are licensed out to 20th Century Fox (or other studios). Since they can?t use these characters in the MCU, it?s believed (fanboy speculation) that they black ball said characters when it comes to using them in merchandise and, in this aspect, gaming. Just a few months back we saw the release of a new Marvel vs. Capcom, which is the 4th or 5th release in the series depending on how you view Ultimate MvC3. This was the first time that the series didn?t feature any X-Men characters, which lead to more speculation about the alleged banning of these characters.
Now we?re here at the release of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 and this release is adding fuel to the fire of fanboy speculation. Not only are there no X-Men characters, but the Fantastic Four and Deadpool are noticeably absent. This is a big blow to the in game lineup and story, as the first Marvel Super Heroes featured all of these characters and teams, while also making the main story involve them heavily. I don?t really know what Marvel thinks is to gain out of tactics like this because the only people that lose are the consumers; the people who spend their hard earned money on the games. If they think that not featuring these characters in video games is going to make less people go out and see the movies and in-turn cause Fox (or any other studio) to give them back the character rights, they?re fools. The characters don?t become forgotten by not being utilized, it actually becomes more noticeable that they?re missing, especially in a title that features hundreds of characters.
Now that the rant portion of the review is out of the way, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is exactly what you would expect from a LEGO release; it looks and feels like pretty much every title before it (read up on some of my previous LEGO reviews HERE). Like I mentioned earlier the game is a bit of a mix of the MCU and comic universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy are featured immediately and you can tell they?re extremely inspired by the movie versions, to the point that they use songs from the movie soundtrack. While other characters and locations are not; The Avengers utilizing the mansion and not the MCU tower comes to mind without spoiling anything. The story of both the DC and Marvel LEGO games are usually very good and this is no exception. We have characters from across the Marvel universe (even if that excludes X-Men and Fantastic Four), there?s plenty of different story opportunities and character mash up potentials. This is the real selling point to me, as a Marvel Fanboy… not only do I get to play as hundreds of characters, but I get to see most of them interact with each other in an original story.
The voice acting, while clearly not the actors from the MCU, is pretty good. Where other LEGO titles sometimes rip audio from movies for better (LEGO Dimensions, LEGO Avengers) or worse (LEGO Jurassic World), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 benefits from having audio created specifically for the game. This means less repetition in character dialogue and better story telling. Also, what would a Marvel property be without Stan Lee? He?s back and finds himself in all sorts of trouble, as usual. Tracking him down in levels and of course what would a LEGO game be without, open world areas (say hello to Nueva York 2099 fans).
As someone that plays nearly every LEGO release, there is one glaring omission when it comes to gameplay. LEGO Force Awakens introduced a new gameplay feature where you could use the same pile of bricks to make multiple items. So for one puzzle you might need to build a laser but you could also then destroy the laser and use those same bricks to build a ship to reach a hidden area. After a dozen plus LEGO games, this addition was refreshing and something I thought would surely be used in future releases… guess I was wrong. Not that there?s anything wrong with the gameplay in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, but it is a lot of just the same old, same old, and that is what most people expect, but something new would have been nice. There?s plenty of stuff to keep you busy as expected though, between gold bricks, story missions, side missions, minikits and more, if you get hooked; you?ll be hooked for a while.
I?m a sucker for the LEGO games and toys, and of course Marvel, so this release is a no-brainer for me. While I?m disappointed that characters were removed from the first game, they still fill the gaps with plenty of Marvel characters, even if some of them are questionable (Carnom). The cookie cutter formula of taking popular franchises or movies and making them LEGO games still works and until they don?t sell and/or play well, Warner Brothers will keep churning them out. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is better than the last Marvel LEGO release (LEGO Avengers) in almost every way. If you’re a fan of the LEGO Marvel games you will enjoy this release, but probably not as much as the first LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
Warner Bros. Interactive provided us with a LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 PS4 code for review purposes.