Ever since the release of the first Lego Star Wars game back in 2005, Traveller’s Tales has built a catalogue of really great, really fun Lego games. Most gamers you ask will tell you that, while they are certainly targeted at a younger audience, Lego games are surprisingly good on their own merits. They’ve tackled such franchise as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and, most recently, the DC Universe and Lord of the Rings. And, also recently, there has been a change in the formula of what Lego is doing with their games. Whereas before, we had silent games, with no voice acting, and simplistic puzzles combined with simplistic combat, we know have games that have more complex mechanics, as well as voice acting, which allows for better story telling.
Because of this, there has been a boost in quality amongst these games. Whereas Lego Pirates of The Caribbean and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars suffered from the issue of a formula that was starting to get old, Traveller’ Tales quickly fixed that problem. The fix was carving out a new niche for themselves in the gaming industry. Many of their early games were extraordinarily linear adventures, especially up until Lego Star Wars III. Now, I don’t have any problems with linear games. Just because a game is linear doesn’t mean it can’t be a great game. That said, once you’ve had a franchise that has used the same formula for eight games, it’s time to change it up a little bit.
Therefore, Traveller’s Tales took the hub that they had used so effectively in previous games, and transformed it into a sprawling open world adventure in Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes, and replicated that again in Lego Lord of the Rings, the most recent installment in the franchise. They have also added some great little mechanics into the combat system, such as counters and combos, which allow for fresh the game to feel fresh. With the addition of super hero franchises to the line of Lego video games, Traveller’s Tales really brought the full potential of new game mechanics to bear in Lego Batman 2.
They took advantage of the wide variety of characters found in the DC universe, and incorporated their specific skill sets into the game. For example, you have Man Bat, who’s shrieks allow him to shatter glass, or Mr. Freeze, who can freeze water found in the environments, or survive sub zero temperatures. Still, Traveller’s Tales didn’t fully capitalize on this in Lego Batman 2, as they didn’t take full advantage of the engine. Sure, I don’t expect the, to stretch it graphically, as Lego games have a unique look to them that makes them what they are. However, the inclusion of only 50 characters, in a universe so vast, felt slightly disappointing. As it is my favorite comic book universe (currently), I hope Traveller’s Tales remedies that issue with a third installment in the franchise.
But for now, I’m glad to know that they will begin to flex the muscle of their engine, with the inclusion of 100 characters in Lego: Marvel Superheroes. I expect it to play similar to Lego Batman 2, but at the same time, it will surely have a much different feel. Marvel’s an entirely different universe, and one that is much less grim than DC’s, so there will most likely be a subtle change in tone and mood. Obviously, these are kids games, so Lego Batman 2 couldn’t have Robin being skewered on a sword, a host of other grotesque occurrences that have inhabited DC’s comic books of late. Still, it was a perpetual night time setting, and Gotham City is a grim place. Will whatever city Traveller’s Tales decide to use in this city be brighter and more welcoming? Probably.
Now, on to the characters. I’m still awestruck at the fact that there will be 100 playable characters in this game, but it’s a pleasant surprise. Not all the characters have been confirmed so far, but we’ve already got Deadpool, Wolverine, Spider Man, Iron Man, and a host of others confirmed for the game, each with their own abilities. You’ll be able to swing from webs as Spider Man, fly as Iron Man, stretch yourself out as Reed Richards and (hopefully) go invisible as Invisible Woman. The variety of characters will allow for new, fun gameplay mechanics to come to the forefront of the latest installment in the Lego franchise.
I don’t doubt that this will allow Lego Marvel Superheroes to carve out it’s place in gaming, separate from other Lego games, as well as other games currently on the market. And that’s what I want in a game. I don’t want it to be completely original, but I want it to be different from other games that are out there. I want it to provide an experience that I really haven’t had before. I don’t care whether it does that through gameplay mechanics, characters, or plot, but I want it to take me places I haven’t been before.
Yes, there have been other Marvel games before, yes, there have been good Marvel games before, and yes, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is similar to Lego Marvel Superheroes. But that game didn’t give the player access to 100 playable characters, now did it? It also didn’t have Lego’s unique brand of humor either, and it wasn’t able to boast that it was a Lego game. I feel like recently, Traveller’s Tales has been experimenting with what they can really do with these Lego games, and this game is another wonderful experiment. It looks like a great game, and I’m sure that it will be able to distinguish itself from other games on the market. And that, above anything else, is a great thing.