bitparade: LEGO Marvel Avengers (PlayStation 4)

Since 2005 we have seen the release of 21 LEGO themed video games from Travellers Tales, ranging from the original LEGO Star Wars through a variety of popular licenses including Harry Potter and Batman. We’ve already had one Marvel themed game from the studio, but that was its own set adventure, this time out the focus is quite squarely aimed at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With this in mind, you’ll find yourself playing through elements of most of the movies released from Captain America: The First Avenger up until and including Avengers: Age of Ultron.

That’s a lot of ground to cover, the Harry Potter franchise was split into two separate games. It’s also a rather large number of characters, over 100 in fact, although 13 of those are different suits for Iron Man alone. Unfortunately it also means the omission of a bunch of fan favourites, notably the FOX and Sony movie characters, so Spider-Man, the X-Men and (thankfully) the Fantastic Four (I really disliked using them in Marvel Super Heroes.

The formula is the same as ever, work through each level beating the crap out of everyone and everything to release a whole bunch of LEGO studs and solve simple puzzles using the different characters abilities to progress through the level and unlock more content. I find it all to be kind of fun in small doses but I’ve never been one for games that put a lot of focus on collecting things, although the chance to play a game as using Ms Marvel, Wasp, Captain Britain or Squirrel Girl (all of whom aren’t MCU characters but are unlockable here) is enough to keep me chipping away.

LEGO Marvel Avengers features a handful of over-worlds, the biggest of which is once again Manhattan, here you can take on extra mini-quests and even be involved in solving random crimes that happen whilst you’re running around, it makes the game feel surprisingly lived-in, although getting around is a bit of a ball-ache as the vehicles are horrible to control. That’s one of the many problems I’ve always had with the series and the other two key ones that irritate are still here and have been for as long as I remember. The way the split-screen works has always been an issue for me.. The fixed vertical split leaves very little room for being able to see what’s going on whilst the reactive split-screen, where the split moves with the character, feels sporadic and far too intrusive and in my humble opinion the entire franchise would work better if bothy were dropped and you both had to stay within the confines of the screen, its not like you’re allowed a lot of freedom to go off wandering when in the structured levels, although the hubs they’ve introduced in more recent titles would definitely be affected.

The other thing that gripes is the games checkpointing. It often feels sporadic, and in a franchise that feels like its aimed at family members who want to play together, it leaves something to be desired that you may have to abandon the game at times that the game doesn’t want you to forcing you to replay whole chapters, which grates when you’ll find yourself having to return to every section of the game later on anyway in order to unlock everything. As I say, these are all issues that have been apparent for a long, long time now and with the schedule being roughly two titles per year or thereabouts, plus with Dimensions being a thing, it’d be nice to see them being addressed rather than each and every game feeling like a re-skin. I recently went back to the original LEGO Star Wars and whilst there’s been a lot of stuff added over the years, there’s still a hell of a lot of things that felt broken then that feel broken in Marvel Avengers, which considering the 11 years or thereabouts between them, is a ridiculous situation to be in.

That’s not to say that there isn’t fun to be had with this release, as per usual, if you’re a fan of the subject that’s being covered you’ll find plenty of content to keep you happy and the little jokes are as amusing as ever. But its just annoying to be criticising a series for the same thing again and again,

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