There’s not a lot of innovation here, but fans of Marvel and the LEGO series will find a lot to love in this game.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a game that is perfectly content following in the footsteps of its predecessors. Though it expands and mostly even improves upon much of what we saw in the original LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, you get the feeling that there’s not much new here. There have been dozens upon dozens of LEGO games thus far, and if you’re familiar with the series’ formula and all its trappings by this point, as many of you might be, then there’s not much new to see here. However, that doesn’t mean Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a bad game- only that it’s an uninventive one.
Once you look past that and resign yourself for another typical LEGO adventure, you realize that this game is, in many ways, perhaps the most polished LEGO game yet. Thanks to veteran developers Traveller’s Tales intelligently making use of their experience with this series, this game manages to stand out as perhaps the best realization of this well-worn formula yet. Though there’s no innovations or radical changes to look forward to, the game does offer a well-written, charming and incredibly enjoyable experience.
What’s most appealing about LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is the fact that no matter what level of familiarity you have with the Marvel lore and their history, you’re regularly going to find something that will grab your attention. From new fans of Marvel properties, thanks to the Cinematic Universe, to mid-tier enthusiasts who have a slightly deeper knowledge of their comic book characters as well, to full-blown aficionados, who are intricately familiar with even the most obscure Marvel publications, Marvel Super Heroes 2 packs in something for everyone to enjoy.
"What’s most appealing about LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is the fact that no matter what level of familiarity you have with the Marvel lore and their history, you’re regularly going to find something that will grab your attention."
Much of that is thanks to its narrative setup. This is a typically light-hearted story that is surprisingly coherent and can be quite amusing and interesting, and while a lot of that is thanks to the game’s excellent portrayal of large numbers of Marvel characters, most of it boils down to its setup. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 makes use of a lesser-known hero from the Marvel ethos- Kang the Conqueror, a villain who first fought against The Avengers in the 1960s. Though he isn’t as popular an antagonist as the likes of Thanos or Loki have become over the past few years, the game makes use of him perfectly. Like most other characters that have any significant screentime, Kang is smartly and sharply written and is very well voiced.
Kang the Conqueror has basically managed to rip a whole in space and time to build his own demented world, that of Chronopolis, which is basically of mixing pot of settings from all corners of Marvel lore. From Marvel Cinematic Universe locations such as Asgard and Xandar to Iron Fist’s K’un-Lun and Black Panther’s Wakanda, it’s all in there. But it goes beyond just that. While one area is like your regular midtown Manhattan, another area is based on Medieval England.
It’s almost like a virtual theme park. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 throws in all sorts of different Marvel worlds, stories, and characters, adds a dash of its own bizarre ideas, and brings it all together to create a world that is diverse and constantly entertaining. Every area has its own distinct flavour and personality, and making your way through each of these can be a lot of fun. What also helps is that there’s a lot of stuff to do as well, from hunting down collectibles to finishing side quests, a lot of which are quite well designed.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a massive or layered open world, the likes of which we see more in more in games such as Horizon: Zero Dawn or The Witcher 3. Marvel Super Heroes 2 is, after all, meant to be a highly accessible game, and while its world is full of variety and dense with plenty of things to do, don’t expect it to be the largest or even the most elaborate and complex open world setting you’ll ever see. What’s in there is all really good, but it’s all pretty basic, rudimentary stuff.
"LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 throws in all sorts of different Marvel worlds, stories, and characters, adds a dash of its own bizarre ideas, and brings it all together to create a world that is diverse and constantly entertaining."
Unfortunately, there were often times in my playthrough where, due to lack of adequate communication on the game’s part, I found myself at a loss for where to head next in the world. Since Chronopolis isn’t a huge enough setting for players to go lost in, I was able to proceed forward eventually, but such instances did still harm the game’s pacing. In fact, this issue is not just restricted to open world traversal- even during levels and set piece sequences, there are often times when LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 simply fails to communicate to the player just what it is it wants them to do. Again, none of these instances were too frustrating, and it didn’t usually take long to get past them, but they did ruin the momentum somewhat.
Level design itself, on the other hand, is quite solid. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 makes great use of Marvel locations, both obscure and well-known, and populates them with characters and references, also of both varieties. Every level has you playing as a pre-determined group of characters, combining light combat with environmental puzzles that involves using each character’s specific abilities based on different requirements. Unfortunately, it is in the combat the LEGO series shows some of its weaknesses once again.
These games are, after all is said and done, made with a young target audience in mind, and as such, they never try to be too complex or to be built intricate mechanics. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a simple and straightforward game, with pick-up-and-play mechanics that people of all skills and ages would feel comfortable with. That’s a great thing, of course. The downside, though, is that the combat ends up feeling like nothing but aimless button mashing, with no skill involved. Of course, this isn’t a new complaint- it’s one that’s persisted with this series for as long as anyone can remember.
If the style of combat in LEGO games is something you’ve grown comfortable and content with, then this might not be much of an issue with you. But for players who’re looking for something that involves skill and progression, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 does nothing to change its series’ ways. Thankfully enough, the other major aspect of the moment-to-moment gameplay, which is solving environmental puzzles, is quite enjoyable. The puzzles are not really mind-benders, and they’re usually pretty rudimentary in nature, but figuring out which character’s ability you should use, and why you should use it, can often be a fun exercise. It becomes doubly enjoyable when you play the game co-operatively with a friend- in fact, while playing co-op, even combat becomes a little more fun.
"Unfortunately, it is in the combat the LEGO series shows some of its weaknesses once again."
The charm and colourful personality that characterizes all of Chronopolis is also something that is reflected in the visuals themselves. Technically, this game is no masterpiece, but the visual palette has a vibrant charm to it that is simply undeniable. More importantly, the simple fact that you get to see all your favourite Marvel characters, as well as the characters they inhabit, made entirely out of Lego blocks just adds a unique personality to them. That’s not to say you won’t notice any oddities or blemishes in the technical department- there are quite a lot of noticeable performance issues in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. You’ll see quite a lot of jaggies, there will be plenty of frame rate drops, and you’ll often run into a number of glitches, some of which might even force you to restart your game to the previous checkpoint.
If you’ve been playing LEGO games for a while now and were expecting Marvel Super Heroes 2 to finally be the game that brings about a change in the formula, you’re going to be disappointed. This isn’t a new kind of LEGO game, and it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, it follows a tried and tested formula, and does so in a solid way. While issues with the sheer lack of challenge and requirement of skill exist, as well as some technical and performance issues, the game’s diverse theme park-like setting and its charming and silly humour are enough to make sure you have a great time.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Chronopolis is a mixed-pot theme park that is fun to explore and traverse; Plenty to do in the open world; Fun environmental puzzles; Co-op is very enjoyable; Well written dialogue and characters; Colourful and charming visuals.
Shallow combat takes away any sense of skill or progression; Game often fails to properly communicate with the player; Plenty of bugs and technical problems; Performance issues.
Amusing characters, sharp writing, and a diverse setting make for an enjoyable experience, albeit one with technical issues and shallow, unchallenging combat.