LEGO DC Super-Villains review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

?I said the joker is a wanted man,
He makes his way all across the land,
See him sifting through the sand,
So I’ll tell you all the story,
About the Joker and the DC Villains of the night.”

If you don’t know Wolfmother’s The Joker and the Thief, you’re going to get an extreme dose of it. The song plays on the main menu and in the Hall of Doom in the game. I get using the song, as it’s a villains title and the Joker is one of the main characters, but it still struck me as a bit odd as they don’t really use licensed songs with lyrics in any other LEGO game. Music notwithstanding, it’s that time of the year again, LEGO time! Traveller’s Tales really has this LEGO schedule down; last we saw the Incredibles take brick form, and now we’ve come back around to the DC universe which hasn’t been utilized since 2014’s LEGO Batman 3 (if you don’t count LEGO Dimensions).

LEGO DC Super-Villains, you guessed it, stars the villains of the DC universe (but don’t worry, the heroes aren’t forgotten and are still unlockable). Within the first half hour we see the Justice League trapped by the Justice Syndicate and now it’s time for the villains to take the spotlight and figure out what they’re up to. In my opinion, the story in the LEGO games work best when they aren’t tied to a movie and can craft their own story and that’s why LEGO DC Super-Villains works so great. On top of an all new original story, we have an all new LEGO game feature. When you start up the story you’re tasked with creating your own villain. Now I know there are creation slots in the other LEGO games, but nothing as robust as what is featured here. On top of being a deep creation tool that includes giving your villain powers and abilities, he or she will also be featured throughout the story, which I really enjoyed as it wasn’t the same cookie cutter LEGO formula.

First you craft your own villain and then it’s time to team up with all of the DC villains and get to the bottom of this Justice Syndicate. Like any good LEGO title, there’s no shortage of playable mini figures and they really went all in on the villains and made sure to include some really obscure ones (hello Clock King and Kite Man). So you have a unique story, custom character (that’s featured throughout the story) and a huge cast of villains? it sure looks like they’re checking off all my boxes. What about the voice cast? This one gets another big check from me. You see, I was raised on Batman the Animated Series and love the Arkham games as well. Between those two, we have four voiced characters that I immediately recognized. My one true Joker, Mark Hamill, makes his LEGO debut and comes out of his self-spoken of retirement. Having him featured just adds so much more gravitas to the character and really makes the story play out that much more. The rest of the cast should not be shortchanged, but the Animated and Arkham voices just grabbed hold of me.

Moving on from the praise, we need to talk about the gameplay. LEGO gameplay is almost as cookie cutter as an annual sports game, but it has become expected. LEGO DC Super-Villains really doesn’t change much following LEGO Incredibles, it actually doesn’t even have all the features I spoke of in that review. The ?not broke, don’t fix it” mentality is at play here, and I realize these games are made for a younger demographic, I just wish some new gameplay mechanics would be introduced, or even existing mechanics shaken up. They did add the capability of recruiting goons in certain areas of levels. These goons are then used for solving certain puzzles or assisting on particular platforms. Outside of that, everything is pretty much the same. Collect studs to fill your meter then spend the studs on characters, red bricks, vehicles, etc.

At least we didn’t get a recycled open world environment from LEGO Batman 3 or Dimensions, and the open world is a decent size with many notable locations. Of course there’s plenty to do in the open world as well, collecting gold bricks and doing side missions. I wish they didn’t push you through the story right away and let you have more freedom to explore the open world, maybe with a handful of characters. A lot of times you can’t do much of anything in the open world until at least 3/4 of the way through the game, based on characters you have unlocked or where you are left via the story. LEGO Incredibles I felt gave you a bit more freedom, but this feels more like get through the story?then do whatever you want.

LEGO DC Super-Villains shows that sometimes it is good to be bad. Of course it doesn’t break the LEGO genre mold, but I’m fairly certain everyone who is reading this or buying this game, knows what they’re in for. While you have to push through the same tired mechanics, the game’s story and stellar voice acting will have you wanting more. Just remember to look out for the Joker and the villains of the night!

Note: Warner Bros. Interactive provided us with a LEGO DC Super-Villains PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B