Thor-riffic? Or does the series need Drax-tic changes?
As an ode to the ever expanding Marvel universe, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is practically without peer. The characters you’ll play, the spots you’ll visit, and the references you’ll run into span the distance and breadth of the comic juggernaut’s history in comics, TV, and film, extending to the genesis of Marvel as Timely Comics in the past in the forgotten mists of time (the 1930s). Actually, beyond the exclusion of X-Men and Fantastic Four characters (for a few undisclosed and surely byzantine rights reasons), this game may be the most Marvel any Marvel game has been up to now.

It’s also virtually the most Lego game any Lego game has been up to now, which is to state all the charm and wit and simple play of the long-running series is here now, but also most of its little faults and idiosyncrasies. Beyond the dizzying selection of heroes and villains you’ll (eventually) manage to play, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 adds little to the franchise regarding innovation or transformation. There is merely more, but more doesn’t invariably mean better.

What’s here, though, remains appealing, especially if you involve some kiddos to share the knowledge with. These charm and wit of the Lego formula is now predictable and creaky after almost two dozen entries, but manages to retain that sense of simple joy inherent in seeing Lego-fied versions of a few of your selected pop culture characters bash around in a colorful world, quipping their cute little quips even while. Seeing a Lego Ms. Marvel embiggening while geeking out that she’s fighting alongside Spider-Man is merely delightful, as is seeing teleporting Inhuman dog Lockjaw flopping onto his back for a belly rub.

The game is filled up with little charm bombs such as this, but if you read that previous sentence and came away with questions like “Who or exactly what is a Ms. Marvel?” and “There are dogs in video gaming, now?”, then perhaps a few of this appeal will be lost you. Obviously, your familiarity with everything Marvel will impact precisely how cute you think all this is. And the cuts here run very deep. From the inclusion of cowboy characters from old Timely/Marvel series like Kid Colt and Arizona Annie, to newer characters like Spider-Man Noir from the Noir Universe (this Spidey uses guns, guys!), Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 appears tailor-made for the Marvel super fan.

That’s not to state those whose Marvel knowledge comes only from the recent big budget films (but who did start to see the last Thor movie and thought the rock guy was pretty funny) will be left clueless amidst a number of complex comic references. The overall game anchors it’s main narrative on the cinematic versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy, with Star Lord, Rocket, Groot (both baby and full-grown), et al racing to Earth to greatly help stop megalomaniac-from-the-future Kang the Conqueror from doing his thing (ie, conquering). It’s a doomed quest, as Kang quickly achieves his raison d’etre, ripping the fabric of the time-space continuum and creating Chronopolis, a mish-mash of worlds from different schedules and Marvel realities.

From here, it’s up to the heroes of the Marvel universe to band together and prevent Kang. The gameplay here will be quickly familiar to anyone who’s played a Lego game recently; it’s bash bash bash on enemies and the surroundings using simple combat mechanics, before solving various environmental puzzles that may or may well not involve bashing things even more (or alternatively by using a specific character’s special skills to advance). To its credit, the countless characters in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 do sport some interesting abilities, so much in order that you can generally look at night cookie-cutter nature of almost all of them and discover individual heroes with original skills. The combat, though, remains stakes-free. There are no “lives”, and dying simply means regenerating in the same spot not seconds later. Dark Souls this is simply not.

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But that ease-of-use is definitely the primary selling point of the Lego games, specifically for parents. As is usual with this series, the complete game could be played in co-op, and it’s really fun to partner with a developing gamer through these relatively stress-free adventures. The puzzles here will often get yourself a little obtuse, but that’s accurately why it’s an excellent shared experience. Your little kinds can have fun playing around and mashing buttons playing as the Invincible Iron Man, when you do the legwork of determining how exactly to actually progress through an even.

There’s also an extraordinary amount of things you can do in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2. In addition to the a huge selection of available characters (most you need to unlock) and the approximately dozen hours of the key campaign to sort out, the “world” of Chronopolis can be expansive, functioning as an open world where your heroes will get little sidequests, missions, racing events, and alternative activities if you are not chasing the key storyline.

Of course, these alternative activities aren’t all enormous fun, but if you are a Marvel nut or a completionist (or both), then this game’s basic cheerful gameplay and demeanour can make all those extra pursuits worthwhile. Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is reverential to its source material, regardless if the overall game that surrounds that adoration is needs to sag somewhat. In the end these years, the Lego formula continues to be a winner–but only barely.