Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: LEGO Marvel

I've stated before that, for the most part, the LEGO series of games are extremely fun little time-wasters, filled with humor without being too childish, and managing to stay true to the source material and digging deep into the minutiae without completely alienating everybody who isn't a die-hard fan.

That being said, LEGO Marvel is both the most fun I've had with a LEGO game and the most infuriating time I've spent with a LEGO game.

First off, let me state that this game does something that I really, truly wish more of Marvel entertainment would do.

There's a moment late in the game when you confront Magneto in Asteroid M.  He looks amongst the assembled characters (Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man) and says "None of my mutant kin here to betray their race?  Oh what a delightful change of pace."

My mind immediately clicked.  It's the Avengers ... versus Magneto.  That never happens in the comics unless it's a ridiculously huge crossover (which, to be fair, Marvel LEGO is, but still).

If I wanted to, I could have Iceman, Ghost Rider, and Groot face off against Sandman.  I can have Kingpin, Doctor Octopus, and Electro fight the Rhino.  I could have X, Y, and Z fight A, and why not?

Well, in the comics, it's because everybody's sequestered in their own little pocket and never the twain shall meet.  And it's something I've been sick of since the 90's.

I want to see Cyclops try to cash a check at a bank and have to fight the Sinister Six there when they rob it.  I want to see the Fantastic Four investigate some weird old Egyptian temple on a tropical island and discover Apocalypse.  I want to see Wolverine take a day off, so when a whole bunch of Hand ninjas show up, they discover Bruce Banner who simply grins and starts to turn green.  Or Thor.  Or Groot.  Or heck, even ROM: Space Knight.

It's one universe, so why does it always need to feel like it's six or seven universes?

Getting to see the battles between characters who, in all likelihood, have never met and never WILL meet is my fanboy dream come true, and on that basis alone, Marvel LEGO would receive my highest recommendation.

But it's not the only basis.  There's things such as visuals, game play, story, voices, and- you know what, those are all just fine as well.  The humor's sharp (and even a bit risque in places), the characters are pretty true to themselves (though nowhere near as dark as in the comics, I love that the Punisher wants to punish people with eco-unfriendly cars), and the story line doesn't seem like it wouldn't work in the regular Marvel Universe (in fact, I think it actually happened once where someone lured Galactus to a planet to just doom the people on it).

So, yeah, with all that taken into consideration, Marvel LEGO is an absolute blast and everybody should play it.


Yes, there is a "but."

Actually, it's more of a "however."

However (yeah, fits better), we need to talk about races.

Not, y'know, "black, white, Asian, white-non caucasian, raccoon" type races.  I mean ones where you need to get from part A to part B in a limited time.  The driving ones are all right.  The cars aren't as crisp as in a game designed around driving cars, but I can live with it.

The flying, though.  Oh dear lord, the flying.

The flying is terrible.  It is the worst.

I haven't been this angry at racing in a video game since F-Zero for the Gamecube, and that game cost me four (or was it five?) controllers that I broke smashing them on the floor.  I was fortunate that Gamestop sold controllers cheap.

I wish I was kidding, but when almost all I have left are flying races, it becomes rather infuriating to try to get all the characters so I can go "oh, hey, it's that guy!  That's awesome!"  Characters will kick in their afterburners and shoot off of the race without any notice.  They will land if you try to skim over the ground for a low loop.  They will veer left or right with the slightest touch of the controls.

And who on earth thought that assigning one button to "move up," one button to "move down," and requiring you to press forward when flying was a good idea?  The only way to "brake" in mid-flight is to let go of the controls and then reposition yourself.  There's no "fly slowly" action unless you draw back the control stick, but if you do too far, you'll swing around and fly back the way you came.  Or just screech to a halt and look silly.

Even with that, the game is still remarkably fun, and based off the good and the character flying, I'd still highly recommend it.


We haven't discussed flying vehicles yet.

Whoever designed the flying vehicle races must be a saboteur from another game company.  That's the only excuse I can think of.

You can move forward by pressing the stick forward, same as before.  OR...

You can use the right trigger to move forward and the left trigger to move backwards.  There is no reverse option for flying if you use the stick.  PLUS....

Once again, one button tilts you up, one button tilts you down.

How do we not live in a world where "push the controls forward to go down and back to pull up" is not default for EVERY FLYING THING IN GAMES EVER?

With the extra buttons necessary to press, your poor hands are going to get frustrated, forget what they're doing, and want to smash the controller on the ground to free themselves from this terrible prison.

It is, again, the worst racing I've seen in a long, long time.

So, with all that in mind, what's my verdict?

Play the game.  Just don't expect to get 100% unless you're a masochist.

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