LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Preview (PC)

There’ll probably come a day when LEGO/Warner Bros run out of ideas, or when people get tired of their favourite IP’s getting converted into digital bricks, or perhaps even a day when people stop playing videogames altogether. It is not this day though, or any other day between now and whenever LEGO Marvel Super Heroes launches later this year. The latest title from those wonderful guys over at Traveller’s Tales (Or ‘TT’ as they go by now… I’m guessing in an effort to sound hip?) directs its focus on the Marvel franchise. Whilst it does take a lot of queues from the recent Avengers film, TT have said they want to offer a more complete Marvel experience, so expect to see characters and stories from a whole range of Marvel franchises, films and comics.

It’s still early days for the lego-fied superhero bonanza, but we’re already getting a picture of what the game is going to be like. The LEGO games have been pretty formulaic for a while now, with subtle differences relating to the IP, and Marvel is going to be no different. We’re told there’ll be 100 or more playable characters (heroes and villains), and this time it’ll be genuinely new characters, not just new skins as they’ve done in previous games (although there are a few new skins. Iron Man, for example, gets hold of his other suits throughout the course of the campaign). The game takes place in a central ‘hub world’ that is New York City. Similar to Gotham in Lego Batman, New York will be an open world that players can explore and search, whether flying around as Iron man, web-slinging as Spiderman, or taking the bus (that bit is probably not true). This is no ordinary New York though, it’s a Marvel New York, with everything from the Stark Tower and the SHIELD Helicarrier hovering above, to key buildings from Spider-Man, X-Men and more.

Tony Stark is just as much of a wise-ass in lego-form. Lego Marvel continues the new trend of using actual voice-actors for characters

Each of the locations also acts as a mini-level that you can explore and unlock, even with characters that wouldn’t normally be seen in that location (like taking Spider-Man to Stark Tower or The Hulk to the X-Mansion). It’s unclear at the moment how the missions will be structured, although you can look at other hub-based games for a clue – the special locations are part of the hub world, and there’s supposed to be a lot of interiors you can walk around and explore, as opposed to a world you can only view from the outside. This is all part of TT’s push to make the tech as good as possible. They also want to be able to have you jump off the helicarrier and fly all the way down to the ground level of New York, as they’re really pushing what they can do with the tech to make sure it’s a real open-world experience. Another new feature is the concept of ‘Big-figs’, which is something LEGO themselves are doing on the toy side of things. These larger Lego-figures have in-game abilities to suit their greater size and strength, and they can be used along with the other characters that you can team up with.

One of these days the Hulk is going to come up against someone who smashes harder than he does. But it is not this day

As far as the rest of it is concerned, so far it’s looking like your average LEGO experience. You play through levels with a combination of characters, and you have to use their abilities in order to solve environmental puzzles and also to defeat mobs and bigger enemies. Obviously the game still has the tried-and-true drop-in/out co-op (split-screen as well as online), and you can switch between characters on the fly in order to complete the level. True-to form, they’ll be bits you can only do with characters you won’t unlock until later in the game. We were shown the introductory level to the game, which featured Hulk, Iron Man and eventually Spider-man vs. Sandman and The Abomination. The Hulk could change back and forth between being Bruce Banner, and being the Hulk, with both characters focused on doing different things. The Hulk, for example, can’t build things out of bricks, but Bruce can.

As we mentioned earlier, the game is still a few months out from release and the character list isn’t set yet. We liked what we saw from Lego Marvel, and like all the other games it’ll probably turn out to be a fun game to play. Added in the re-playability that these games always have, and once again you’ll be getting a good enough bang for your buck – don’t expect anything brand new or exciting though. That’s not to say there won’t be any surprises, but like we said, these games have been a tad formulaic for a while now. You also probably won’t be seeing this game on the PS4 or other next-gen platforms, as TT want to focus on the consoles that everyone already has, as opposed to the systems some people might have at some point. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is due out in Autumn 2013 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC (And WiiU. There’s also going to be a separate 3DS/Vita version).

Most anticipated feature: It's Lego. What's not to love?