Harry Potter. Star Wars. Lord of the Rings. Lego has firmly established a successful pattern of obtaining the rights to popular properties, building toys out of them, and then turning them into truly fun games. Its latest title, produced by Warner Bros., is no different. Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril ($5) is exactly what we’d expect from the collaboration, and that’s a good thing.
The game starts with — and is full of — fully-animated, voice-acted, cut scenes featuring characters from across the Marvel universe. Starting with Iron Man and the Hulk, you’re thrown into a beautifully rendered 3D world viewed from a three-quarter angle. As in the other Lego games, you’re presented with a choice of controls. You can either tap around the screen to move and attack, or use a virtual joystick and action buttons; MFi controller support isn’t listed for this one. And then, in the famous words of one of your playable characters, Hulk smash!
Pretty much every non-background element in the game’s levels, including frequently spawning enemies, is destroyable as you use melee and distance attacks. They’ll drop studs, a common currency throughout LEGO titles, which can be used to unlock additional characters as the game progresses. We found the studs a bit easier to collect than before. Instead of having to walk over them before they disappear, the studs are drawn toward your character as he or she moves. More than 91 characters are promised, including good guys, bad guys, and even alternate costumes and versions. Not only is there Spider-Man, but there’s Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Man (Future Foundation), Spider-Man (Miles Morales), and Spider-Man (Symbiote Suit). Comic fans will appreciate the depth.
Each level is split into three missions, with a main villain to defeat at the end. Starting in Grand, er, Sand Central Station, you battle Sandman and his minions. Next is the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building and Doctor Octopus. There are a total of 15 levels, which can be unlocked one by one as you beat the sub-levels, and collect Gold Bricks in each. One Brick is awarded for each of the ten objectives in any given mission. Objectives include beating a boss within a certain time, using certain moves to defeat enemies, or rescuing civilians.
The game is very clearly designed to have a high replay value. Because different characters have different abilities—Spider-Man can web sling, while Mister Fantastic can squeeze into tight places—you’ll have to play through levels multiple times to collect all the Gold Bricks. You’ll also need to earn enough studs to unlock all the characters, or pay $10 via an in-app purchase for the whole collection.
It’s hard to resist the appeal of these LEGO games. They’re full of clever humor for both kids and adults. The controls work well, and you certainly get your money’s worth when it comes to how many hours you’ll invest into it. We’d love to see LEGO branch out a bit with its licensed characters, as some of the actions can get to be repetitive. But overall, we’re once again thoroughly impressed with one of its titles. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril is a great game, and we highly recommend it if you’re a fan of LEGO, Marvel, both, or even neither. It’s just a lot of fun.
iLounge Rating: A-