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Lego Marvel Super Heroes assembles a cast of Marvel minifigs in the battle for Cosmic Bricks

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The Lego video game veterans at TT Games are tackling a new set of super heroes, this time in the merry Marvel style. Lego Marvel Super Heroes brings the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe together, sending Spider-Man, the X-Men and Avengers to locations far and wide: Manhattan, Asgard, Asteroid M and more.

In a gameplay demo in San Francisco last week, Warner Bros. and TT Games showed off an early level from Lego Marvel Super Heroes in which the Hulk, Iron Man and Spider-Man teamed up to take down Sandman and the Abomination. The two longtime Marvel super villains were holding a Lego brick version of Manhattan hostage, we were told, demanding payment of Cosmic Bricks, the game's MacGuffin.

Defeating the Abomination, Sandman and a horde of Lego minifigures made of sand required the three Marvel heroes to use their unique abilities. Hulk uses his strength to smash through walls and toss large objects, like police cars. (He can also revert to Bruce Banner form, accessing his human size and intelligence.) Iron Man can hover and fly, firing repulsor rays from a distance. Spider-man can swing to and fro on strands of webbing and climb walls marked by special bricks.

Hulk and the Abomination are categorized as big-figs, towering over the diminutive minifig versions of Iron Man and Spider-Man, besting them in strength and size.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes features the light puzzle solving, brick collecting and leisurely combat of TT Games' previous efforts with DC's super heroes, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. The same colorful charm and humor — Tony Stark and Peter Parker frequently cracked wise — appears present here. While the game is at times graphically simple — these are Lego bricks — the sheer number of bricks bouncing around on screen paired with some very nice lighting and shader effects give Lego Marvel Super Heroes a standout visual presentation.

The game's developers say they wanted to include more in-game dialogue than in previous efforts, so they're working to have characters chat with each other throughout each level. They also said Lego Marvel Super Heroes will highlight "classic match ups," pitting longtime arch rivals against each other. That was demonstrated by the Hulk versus Abomination battle, during which the two squared off in a quicktime event-style battle in which Hulk beat his longtime enemy into submission with his own fists.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes also promises to let players create their own unique super heroes with customizable characters, an aspect of the game we weren't shown.

TT Games says it plans to tap other recognizable characters from Marvel's stable of super heroes and villains, presenting Marvel team-ups including Captain America, Wolverine, Black Widow, Thor and Deadpool. While Lego Marvel Super Heroes draws upon some character selection and visual cues from Marvel's cinematic universe seen in The Avengers and other films, the game's storyline and set pieces won't be directly based on the movies.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes is planned for release this fall on PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS.

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