x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Chock-a-block with fun

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s Lego’s next ridiculous block-tastic take on the superhero world.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes does not restrict itself to superheroes. Lord of the Rings and The Incredibles get mentioned, too.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes does not restrict itself to superheroes. Lord of the Rings and The Incredibles get mentioned, too.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Warner Bros

PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, Vita

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It’s almost impossible to imagine a time where a blockbuster film wouldn’t be followed by a tongue-in-cheek Lego video game. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean; they’ve all been given a comically chunky, yellow adaptation. Having smashed apart last year’s box offices, The Avengers was an inevitable next step, especially considering there had already been two titles involving the D C superhero universe.

With Marvel, there’s now a new array of Lycra-clad superheroes and villains to cutesify, ridicule and break into colourful pieces.

If you haven’t played a Lego title before, then, one, get with the programme and, two, you’ve been missing out.

The emphasis is on the word “fun”; bouncy, multicoloured fun. You smash things, switch between characters, use different skills, knock baddies off the screen and you laugh – a lot – because at the heart of it all is a thick layer of comedy, with countless film references, cameos, quips and general tomfoolery.

Thankfully, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is no exception. The opening level has you playing Iron Man and Hulk, using their combination of technological wizardry and massive green fists to take on a cronies in the centre of New York. The final big-boss fight takes place next to Stark Tower, with some falling signage cueing up Iron Man to complain “Hey, I just replaced that.” Later on, we get Stan Lee cameos and more shawarma references than you can shake a mezze platter at.

As the name suggests, the story isn’t all Avengers-centric, with the likes of Spider-Man, the Silver Surfer, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men cropping up to battle against nemeses such as Sandman, the Abomination, the Green Goblin and Dr Doom (complete with his patented Dr Doom’s Doom Ray of Doom). And, in true Lego-game style, things regularly extend beyond Marvel’s remit; Lord of the Rings and The Incredibles get mentioned, too.

The entire game is set across an open Lego-ised Manhattan, although, there’s action to be had on the Helicarrier floating above, from which levels can be selected and characters picked to be sent down to Earth (instigating a cool skydiving mini-game).

It’s hyperactive, chirpy and supremely silly stuff, and the perfect antithesis to moody superhero offerings like the (very good) Arkham series. But for anyone who has had a go on more than a few Lego titles, it all seems too familiar. Sure, the characters and setting may be different, but it’s still largely the same jumping, shooting and smashing that you’ve been doing since the first Lego Star Wars shook things up back in 2005.

It’s also heavily reliant on superhero and film in-jokes. If you’re not a huge fan of Marvel or haven’t seen the recent blockbusters, you’re unlikely to get the endless references. There are bug problems throughout, too, with characters getting stuck on environmental objects, and camera issues that mean you sometimes can’t see what you’re supposed to be doing.

Despite these minor niggles, overall, it’s really difficult not to love Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Criticising anything so unashamedly fun is a bit like shouting at a clown. Here’s hoping, however, that the franchise soon moves away from the major blockbusters. Lego Argo? Lego Drive?

artslife@thenational.ae

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