Review: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers (PS4)

lego-marvel-avengers-ps4-review-banner

Title: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (14.7 GB)
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is also available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 459 of the podcast at 115:00.

Gameplay:
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is the twenty-seventh LEGO game from Traveller’s Tales, twenty-eighth if you count LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga which was just a compilation of the two previous Star Wars games. That’s twenty-eight releases over eleven years, and you thought the release schedules of Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty were bad.

How is it that these games not only hold up, but seem to get better with each new release?

I was thinking about that a lot when I sat down to play this game. It’s interesting because back in 2004, LEGO was on the verge of bankruptcy. Licensing popular brands was one of the things that helped turn the company around to the point that they are now the number one toy brand in the world.

The interlocking LEGO bricks have been around since 1949 so at this point, pretty much everyone under the age of 65 grew up with them. There’s a deep nostalgia factor woven into LEGO with the memories of building new worlds (and never having quite enough of the right pieces).

LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160122222250LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160122222357

The development team at Traveller’s Tales has become masterful at combining the essence of the LEGO experience with the next hot licensed property to create a wonderfully fun and engaging experience for the whole family. They’ve become so good at it that they don’t even need a licensed property as I’d argue that LEGO City Undercover on the Wii U was one of their best games to date.

Seeing your favorite characters and settings come to life in LEGO form is at the heart of the experience as always but the humor is what really makes these games shine. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has had plenty of humor on its own so the Marvel branded LEGO games have been a perfect fit.

… entirely unexpected and a real joy when it happened …
I had talked about the expansive nature of this game on the podcast after both New York Comic Con 2015 and the PlayStation Experience 2015. Having played the complete story and all the non-DLC expansions, I can tell you that the way the massive timeline was presented was at times surprising, fun, touching, and somewhat disappointing.

You start with the opening scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron. In a strange move, the moment the assault ends you immediately jump back to the beginning of the first Avengers movie to play through that complete story. It was definitely an odd choice and one that I couldn’t make sense of at all.

What surprised me was the way they wove one of the other movies directly into the original Avengers. I won’t spoil it here but if you watch The Avengers again, it’ll probably jump out at you. It was entirely unexpected and a real joy when it happened. Unfortunately, it also set me up for disappointment.

After this first movie crossover, placed neatly within the framework of the story and game, my mind started to race ahead. Knowing that the events of Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier would all be included in the game in some way, I began to get excited.

… like really, really short …
Playing through the first movie was a lot of fun. It manages to hit all the high points while adding in the loveable LEGO humor. But then you finish that story and that’s when things get weird. Credits roll and you get a message saying you’ve unlocked three other levels, the three movies between the Avengers films. When you continue the story however you’ll be taken right into Avengers: Age of Ultron starting with the return to New York after the opening scene you played earlier.

It would have made the narrative so much better if the three movies between those two were actually played in order of the timeline. It actually would have been a nice way to break things up over the long Avengers stories as well since the Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America levels are really short… like really, really short.

LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160123124842LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160123141544LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160123162328LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160123165750

They’re set up a lot like the DLC in LEGO Batman 3 with a comic book intro and voiceover. Each one takes you through just one or two pivotal scenes in each of the respective movies. They even cut off the ends of some of the scenes just as things are about to get good. It’s definitely a disappointment but considering the amount of content overall I can’t really complain too much.

The Hub areas cover the entire planet and each is pretty extensive on its own with plenty of Gold Bricks to find, characters and vehicles to unlock, and so much more. Just wait until you see how big Manhattan is and how many items appear on the mini map. As of this write-up, I’m about eighteen hours in and only at 35% complete. It’s huge.

… a fun little diversion …
There are one hundred seventy-four individual characters in the game and a number of them have variants pushing the total number to about two hundred. Some of the wilder and more obscure characters from the Marvel Universe are included so if you’re not a fan with deep knowledge, characters like Fin Fang Foom, M.O.D.O.K., Devil Dinosaur, and Moon Boy may leave you befuddled. For the hardcore among you, you’re gonna love it.

Along with all the collectibles there are also crimes to stop in New York, if that’s something you want to do. Agent Coulson may come over the radio and tell you there’s a crime nearby but they can be hard to find at times. Hint: listen, it’s easier that way.

Other times if a vehicle is involved you’ll get an arrow which will lead you right to the offender. It can be a fun little diversion and it’ll net you a pile of LEGO studs so it can be worthwhile.

Flight is much better this time around as you can use the Right and Left Sticks exclusively if you want. The option to ascend and descend with Circle and Cross is still available but you might not ever need them. Speaking of which, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers becomes the latest game to mimic the once unique style of Resogun in a few places, and it’s pretty cool when it does.

… they make the characters feel more real and natural …
Upgrades in gameplay include team-up moves which involve hitting a button at the right time to allow two characters to play off of each other, such as Thor hitting Cap’s shield with his hammer. What’s cool is they all have these abilities and they’re all unique to the combination of characters you’re playing.

Traveller’s Tales has also done so much more in terms of bringing the characters to life. It’s the little details that you may not actually notice but you’ll subconsciously perceive and they make the characters feel more real and natural. It’s often something as subtle as Captain America switching his shield from one hand to the other as he moves around, ensuring he’s always protected and keeping it between him and the nearest threat.

LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160123193019LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160124005043

Visuals:
Each successive LEGO game gets better and better in terms of the look. The lighting and the attention to detail in the environments is just beautiful. I was thoroughly impressed at every turn. There is some pop-in every now and then but it’s mainly on the bigger levels like Manhattan.

It’s always fun to see a franchise get the LEGO treatment and even though we saw a bunch of this before in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes everything here looks even better.

… cleaning up and normalizing the audio …
Audio:
The recent trend towards pulling dialogue from the movies of whatever property they’re working with could be seen as troubling but I think they’ve found the right balance here. In LEGO Jurassic World the dialogue felt poorly sourced, leading to varying quality and volume levels even with two character speaking to each other.

While they’re still pulling dialogue directly from the movies here as well, this time around there seems to have been much more effort put into cleaning up and normalizing the audio. It’s not always perfect, but more often than not it works and the quality differences aren’t really noticeable.

Unfortunately, even with Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, and Hayley Atwell voicing additional dialogue specifically for the game, we still get way too much repetition during fights and such. I’m really getting sick of hearing Captain America yell out, “Hey! That’s enough!” and Thor yelling, “You want me to put the hammer down?” among others.

The rest of the audio is really great with music and sound effects pulled directly from the films. It all works well to put you right into the story and keep you immersed throughout.

Online/Multiplayer:
As with all LEGO games, local co-op is the only multiplayer option. It works well enough but I’d really like to see this grow into online co-op at some point since this game, especially, feel like it was made more for the co-op experience.

… enough to keep you playing for a long time …
Conclusion:
This is another massive LEGO game that will keep you occupied for weeks on end. Traveller’s Tales manages to balance the immersion of the actual movie dialogue with the fun, goofiness of the LEGO franchise, usually through sight gags.

The excitement of the game including all six movies is tempered somewhat by the stripped down reality of every one of them that doesn’t have Avengers in the title, but the overall package is really beefy, with enough to keep you playing for a long time.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook