I'd never really considered how carefully Tony Stark has to tweak each of his hands and feet to stop himself flying into a sixth floor window as Iron Man. In the movies they go to great lengths to show how a rocket-man might move in the air, constantly fidgeting and countering thrust. But I'd never appreciated that, either, until I saw it in Lego Marvel. Ever since Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, TT's animation has been some of the most beautifully detailed around.
Lego Marvel is not the best Lego game. Its flight controls are disastrous. You have to push buttons to fly up or down while using the analogue stick to go left and right. That the buttons are then double-mapped to other flight functions, namely speeding up and dropping out of flight entirely, makes flight itself a misery. Some of the challenges are almost impossible, and goodies like the X-Jet are so horrible to control that you'll quickly forget you unlocked them. It's hard to imagine a single worse flaw in a GTA-like sandbox so otherwise geared for flight.
Not ideal then, but still a lot of fun thanks to a ridiculous number of lovingly drawn characters pulled from every corner of the Marvel universe past and present, film or comics. The story campaign follows the same rigid formula as most Lego games, and is linear like Lego Batman 2. It's by turns gorgeous (you visit Thor's home of Asgard), technically stupefying (you regularly base jump off the Avengers Helicarrier through the clouds to the streets), riotous (like, there's an actual riot in a prison), and rewarding (as you can imagine when defending the X-Mansion).
Thing is, though, it's seldom out-and-out better. Clone Wars is better structured and has better vehicles; Batman 2 has better level design, story and (somehow) flight; Harry Potter is convoluted but more magical. Just ask my eldest, for whom Marvel was just an amusing break between Batman and Clone Wars careers. He knows his stuff: he's not even four yet but will tell you Lego Indiana Jones is rubbish.
Adults and older kids will probably vibe with the GTA-like open world a bit more, though the basic physics and challenges make it very 'GTA-lite', too. What's urgently needed, though, is a patch for the flight controls that make it a game best enjoyed from the ground, ridiculous as that is for a superhero game.
By Duncan Harris. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes launches today in the UK and Europe, and is out already in North American and Australia. It will also release on Xbox One on 22nd November in the US, and from 29th November in Europe.
The most eclectic and nuanced character roster yet is let down by some very linear puzzling, unremarkable vehicles, and totally ruinous flight controls.
- Impressively detailed animation
- Doesn't live up to the other Lego titles
- Did nobody test the flight controls? Absolute disaster