Lego Marvel's Avengers review

Game Info
Box Art N/A
Platform 360, PS3, Win, Wii U, PS Vita, 3DS, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer TT Games
Release Date Jan 26, 2016

At first glance, Lego Marvel's Avengers assembles the right team.

Continuing developer TT Games' history of translating entertainment properties into Lego adventure sets, Lego Marvel's Avengers' 10-hour open-world campaign has plenty to do and a sense of humor that keeps the game entertaining. But technical and mechanical issues disassemble its charm.

Lego Marvel's Avengers is actually based on several Avengers movies, including Age of Ultron, and select moments and flashbacks from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World and more. TT Games doesn't stray from the film base, though the story's jumps between the present day and flashbacks of certain heroes' pasts make it feel a little fractured at times.

the story feels a little fractured at times

The mechanics are simple, and to returning Lego game players, familiar: Hit the things, fight the bad guys and build. Every level involves gratifyingly smashing an entire room's inhabitants and contents to build a tool or object to move forward. Splashing pieces around and building shiny new things felt like ripping open a new box of Legos.

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Levels strike an even balance between exploration and main objectives. The main backdrop is New York City, an open world filled with side quests and missions to be completed. There are also other locations to wander around in and explore, like the SHIELD base, Stark Tower and my personal favorite, Asgard.

Throughout the levels, players will create tag-team duos from over 200 unlockable Marvel characters. They can easily switch between characters, and pair any duo they see fit. There's a co-op option if a friend wants to tag along and play. However, I found that certain scenes tended to leave one player out of the action for the sake of cinematic battles.

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I often felt lost

Worse, I often felt lost, unsure of what the game wanted me to do, when to do it and how. Objectives often felt muddled and lacked direction; Lego Marvel's Avengers did a terrible job in communicating what I needed to accomplish. I can remember countless times running around a level, wondering what I was supposed to do, before finally stumbling upon some sort of direction that nudged me the right way. When all else failed, a help beacon popped up to nudge me on the right path ... but it felt a little too late.

This severely undermined everything Lego Marvel's Avengers does well. For example, the game introduces an X-ray tablet that you'll use to scan the screen for otherwise invisible Lego studs, which are required to progress. It's not always clear when to use this tablet, and scanning is tedious.

This led to a moment at SHIELD's headquarters that hit a particular nerve. I needed to find a car and drive to the location of the Tesseract, and I was stalled by a lock on the tire. I spent a good 20 minutes looking for clues on how to unlock it, until I accidentally hit the X button and brought up the X-ray tablet. Five minutes of trial and error later, I was able to find the missing studs that unlocked the car tire.

The only thing that saved me from these moments was seeing Iron Man sass Thor while sipping a strawberry smoothie, or an adorable Tony Stark waddle across the screen looking for his Iron Man suit. It kept the game lighthearted and fun. But those cutscenes, using dialogue ripped directly from the films, had their own problems.

Voices were often painfully loud, or lower than other characters in the same scene, which made them hard to understand. It also seemed that some character lines were cycled in at random, resulting in some phrases seeming out of place or entirely nonsensical, and some one-liners dropped during combat made no sense in that context.

Wrap Up:

Lego Marvel's Avengers is marred by a lack of direction

Lego Marvel's Avengers is often fun to watch, and some of the Lego magic is there. The humor and goofiness keep things moving when the rest of the game threatens to grind to a halt. But not even Lego charm can overcome all of Lego Marvel's Avengers' design and technical problems.

Lego Marvel's Avengers was reviewed using a PS4 copy purchased by Polygon. You can find additional information about Polygon's ethics policy here.

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