Some Avengers assembly required.
The character select screen in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is, frankly, ridiculous. A sea of tiny portraits and question marks swims up the screen, so massive that it seems almost counter-intuitive – is that Sakaar Hulk, medieval Hulk, or Maestro, the evil Hulk from the future? Ah who cares, let’s give them all a try. Hearing the developers speak about the game, I wouldn’t be surprised if that roster started a lot smaller, and they just got a bit carried away.
The best LEGO games have been more than the sum of their plasticky parts, and it’s that line-up, and the love that’s gone into assembling it, that looks like it’ll make the difference here. LEGO Marvel 2 is still a game designed to be a totally smooth ride for kids – I played through a boss fight against burning Norse demon, Surtur that amounted to a series of “square peg in square hole” puzzles; The Witness this is not. That means most characters have an ability or two at most – which is when having a retina-scrambling number of them comes into its own. It’s tough to get bored when there’s always something new to try.
Any and all of Marvel history is fair game – probably shown best by the story’s inclusion of the current Jane Foster Thor alongside a distinctly Hemworth-y version. Star-Lord nabs his tunes and dance moves from Chris Pratt’s MCU take, while Spider-Ham and Gwenpool have been pulled out of the stranger fringes of the comics. Marvel has even allowed TT to create its own characters by quite literally fusing some of the originals – Carnom is an unlockable boss that resulted from unwise experimentation on the Venom and Carnage symbiotes.
That’s not to mention their wholly original creations: there’s a Wild West Iron Man in a Steam Engine suit (in a lovely touch, it doesn’t build itself onto Tony Stark’s body – a little minifig helper runs on and screws it all into place), and a full Avengers line-up themed as Ancient Egyptians.
That wild, wide-ranging character roster is matched by the new game’s open world. The original LEGO Marvel’s Manhattan setting hid its references behind miles of grey masonry – the sequel is a little more overt. Chronopolis is a world created as multiple Marvel settings are ripped out of space and time, then jammed together. Noir New York and the Pyramids of Giza jostle for space on the horizon, Knowhere hangs overhead, and the world’s little ocean is actually the sunken Lemuria.
The pleasure of LEGO Marvel 2 will be in seeing how obscure TT can go. Characters can perform team-up attacks – Captain Marvel bouncing off of Captain America’s shield and flinging a concussive blast, for instance. You can guarantee more than a few of those will be references or one-off jokes. Story missions include cameos from characters you wouldn’t expect, and the world is promised to be packed with added extras for those who take the time to look around. For me, I feel like seeing exactly how much the devs have hidden might become the true core of the game.
Joe Skrebels is IGN’s UK News Editor, and he laughed way too much at Wild West Iron Man. Follow him on Twitter.