Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2
TT Games has released a slew of Lego games over the past dozen or so years, but Lego Marvel Super Heroes was easily my favorite. It had a massive roster of powerful heroes and an equally sizable hub world for them to explore. The sequel builds upon that solid framework, but stumbles on the execution. The pieces of a great game are here, but they’re shattered by near-constant bugs, glitches, and technical issues.
The situation is frustrating, since so many great components are in place. The campaign, in which our heroes have to stop Kang the Conqueror and his time-manipulating ways, has some of the funniest writing that Lego games have seen, and the sight gags are similarly top-tier. The minifig heroes are animated with such care and so many little visual flourishes that it’s hard not to be impressed – from the way that Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit seemingly has a mind of its own to Hit-Monkey’s hyperactive simian lope.
The X-Men and Fantastic Four didn’t make it to the sequel for whatever reason, but I didn’t miss them too much. In some ways, their omission made room for TT Games to take even deeper dives into Marvel’s archives for the 200-plus characters on the roster. You may not get Wolverine, but Cap-Wolf is here, and he brought a host of similarly tiered heroes. The goofiness is a delightful change of pace from getting more of the same Spider-Man, Thor, and Hulk we’ve come to expect from Marvel games, and I couldn’t wait to see who’d be the next obscure unlock.
Each hero has his or her special arsenal of attacks and abilities, and returning players know that means a fair bit of swapping out your team to solve basic puzzles. TT Games made it easier than ever by pulling context-appropriate heroes from your roster with the press of a button. Say you’re using Peter-Porker (The Spectacular Spider-Ham) and you find a gold brick that requires an energy beam to melt. Sorting through the vast array of heroes might be daunting, but holding the character-select button opens up the screen with an appropriate hero, such as Iron Man, highlighted. It’s a little detail that makes completing objectives far more efficient. Considering how much there is to do in Chronopolis, it’s a huge relief.
Chronopolis itself is probably the biggest highlight. Rather than focus on one familiar location, such as New York City, the campaign’s time-traveling setup gave the team an excuse to create what’s essentially a massive theme park. The hub world is split into a variety of different eras and locations, such as slices of past, present, and future New York; ancient Egypt; the old west; a Hydra enclave; and more. Once the initial load is done, you can seamlessly zip through each location in the air, on the ground, or even underwater. You find a host of side activities and collectibles along the way, all of varying quality. The side missions are generally fun – or at least funny – and they unlock new characters and silly Gwenpool stages. Driving is terrible, as usual, and I loathed every time I had to race the unresponsive vehicles through rings. Fortunately, unless you’re looking to 100-percent the game, you don’t have to spend too much time behind the wheel. The open world is tailor made for when you don’t want to commit to spending a great deal of time on one particular thing, but want to dart around and make a little bit of progress across a wide spectrum of challenges. You also aren't likely to lose as much progress as you would in a story mission when technical snafus pop up, either.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 has a lot to like, but unfortunately the whole package is marred by a shocking lack of polish. I’ve come to expect a few bugs scattered throughout a Lego game at this point, but it’s never been anything like this. Without hyperbole, every session I’ve had with the game has ended not because I was ready to take a break, but because another game-ending glitch popped up. The character-select screen refused to go away, obscuring the gameplay screen. The main map has stopped functioning. Characters have routinely gotten irrevocably stuck on geometry or trapped in endless death cycles. A rescued Stan Lee blinked out of existence without giving a reward. A.I. controlled characters have mysteriously transformed without my intervention. And on and on and on.
Taken individually, these are all annoying. When they come at such a frequent and relentless pace, I can’t ignore them. This is a game aimed at children and younger players, and I imagine that far too many of them will think they’re doing something wrong when a boss battle doesn’t end – not realizing that the trigger to activate the next battle phase didn’t flip for some unknown reason. Perhaps a patch will come and address these issues. Unfortunately, it’s not here yet and I have to review the game in its current state. As it stands, I can’t recommend it to anyone, no matter how deep their love for Lego, Marvel, or past glories from TT Games.