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Lego's popular standalone games won't end with Marvel's Avengers

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Lego Dimensions won't mean the end of one-off Lego games. In fact, we could be hearing what the next one will be as early as January.

While the development of Lego Marvel's Avengers essentially paralleled the creation of Lego Dimensions, Avengers game director Arthur Parsons said everyone remains committed to both Dimensions and other future Lego games.

"One million percent this is not the last Lego standalone game," Parsons told me during a recent interview.  "The first day Lego Dimensions was announced internally, we were told there will be a standalone video games alongside Lego Dimensions.

"People love Lego video games and we will continue to make Lego video games."

Lego Dimensions, which hit earlier this month, includes a number of brands that have also received their own Lego standalone games. That could leave gamers open to some confusion about what they're getting when they pick up a Lego Dimension expansion pack or Lego standalone game.

But Parsons said he doesn't think that will be the case.

"Dimensions is in a different space," he said. "Take last year, we made Batman 3, but there's also a Batman in Lego Dimensions. We also made a Lego: The Movie standalone game and those characters are in Dimensions

"It is just a case that they're in separate spaces. I really don't see it as an issue."

Just because developer TT Games makes a standalone game, that doesn't mean that property will always show up in Dimensions.

Currently, that's the case with the next standalone due out: Lego Marvel's Avengers, which hits on Jan. 26.

There are no Marvel characters in Lego Dimensions, despite the fact that this is the second Lego Marvel game TT Games has made.

I asked if the current lack of Marvel characters in Dimensions had anything to do with the fact that Disney, which owns Marvel, has its own toys-to-life game in Disney Infinity. That game, which does include Marvel super heroes, could easily be seen as a direct competitor.

As more companies get into the toys-to-life game business, especially those that use existing properties, this could become a bigger issue over time.

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But Parsons says that hasn't been an issue to date.

"Ever since we've been owned by Warner Bros. we're not stuck with who we work with," he said. "We'll make the best Lego games we can."

And Lego Marvel's Avengers does seem to be a case in point, at least for the standalone titles.

The game is a massive undertaking that touches on not just the Avengers movies, but on the entire second phase of Marvel movies as well as a little bit pulled from comics.

The main storyline has players guiding the central Avengers characters through the story of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. That bit is canon, main story elements pulled directly from the movie. In fact, even some of the movie's dialogue is being used as well, though often paired with delightful Lego animations that result in some inspired humor.

The opening of the game is a shot-for-shot (nearly) Lego remake of the attack on Strucker Castle in Bavaria &mfash; the opening scene of Age of Ultron. Jumping into the game halfway through the story allowed Parsons and the team to give players a taste of just how over-the-top the gameplay will be, he said. The game then jumps around a bit, hitting the major moments of the two movies as gameplay, but also occasionally filling in some of the duller moments with plot summaries told in static, comic-book style panels.

The game is, as all Lego games are, packed with Easter eggs, running jokes and fun little things to find. It also has an enormous selection of characters, many of whom have alternate costumes pulled from Marvel movies and comics.

For instance, Thor appears in a variety of costumes, including the most current which has a woman wielding the hammer. Parsons said they've also hidden classic comic book covers throughout the game, each recreated with Lego minifigs. There are about 20 as of now, and the team is hoping to include more.

The game adds a new element of play to the Lego franchise, allowing players to team up super heroes to deliver special attacks. These team attack moves help illustrate the game's theme of team work, Parsons said.

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Because Lego Marvel's Avengers was developed at the same time another team was developing Lego Dimensions, Parsons said they took some of the lessons learned from that game and brought it over to Lego Marvel's Avengers.

Chief among them seems to be how Lego Marvel's Avengers manages to pack not two movies, but six and at least one TV show into one game. While players can content themselves with playing through the storyline of the two Avengers movies, they also have the option to leap into open worlds connected to those other movies.

"It's similar to Lego Dimensions Adventure Worlds," Parsons said. "We saw they had multiple things and we thought why not do the same thing.

"We wanted to up our first Marvel game."

So there are a number of these sandbox worlds that include content from Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, TV show Agent Carter and, as Parsons put it, "a whole load of comic book content."

"You wouldn't necessarily think of Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy walking around in this game," he said. (They do.) "The main story is canon, but the freeplay is anything related to this. So there's Defenders content, Jessica Jones, et cetera, et cetera.

"If you were to look at the Marvel universe through Lego glasses what you would see is this game."

Lego Marvel's Avengers doesn't include just Marvel Easter eggs, it also continues the tradition of Lego game Easter eggs.

The biggest, perhaps best, of those are the post-credit teases that the last few games have included.

In 2013's Lego Marvel Super Heroes, a post credit scene showed the back of a character that looked an awful lot like Batman. But when he turns around it's Black Panther.

The head fake, gamers later realized, was a tease to TT Games next title: Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, which came out in 2014.

That game ends with a silhouette of a group of super heroes standing together, a group that looks an awful lot like the Avengers. But when the lights come on, it turns out to be a bunch of DC characters.

Another head-fake that turned into a tease for TT Games' next title: This one.

So what can we expect at the end of Lego Marvel's Avengers?

"There's a tease at the end of this one too," Parsons said. "But you'll have to play it to find out what it is."