Lego Marvel Super Heroes review

  • Open-world New York City
  • Tons of collectibles, including Stan Lee himself
  • Plenty of funny moments to keep the laughter up
  • Technical mishaps, including game-breaking glitches
  • Monotonous level design and mission format
  • Strange A.I. actions during open-world play

Imagine being a young kid playing with his or her favorite superhero action figures. Iron Man soaring through the air, defending the floor of the bedroom from the tyranny of Doctor Doom, while Wolverine and Sabretooth duke it out on the dresser. To the child, the floor is the streets of a big city, the dresser a skyscraper, and every sound-effect explosion from the kid's mouth is a real rocket crashing into a building. Lego Marvel Super Heroes feels like it's come right from the mind of that imaginative child, creating a superhero story worthy of afternoon playtime.

Taking a cue from Lego City Undercover, Lego Marvel Super Heroes encases its adventure in an open-world replica of New York City bulging at the seams with things to do (and things to destroy for some coveted Lego coins). There’s no rush in starting a mission; once your destination is set and you gain control, the Lego world is your oyster. After skydiving off of the SHIELD Helicarrier to reach the city (one of the coolest parts of the game, by the way), you can take Lego Iron Man for a quick jet through the skyline or take hold of Doctor Doom (once you unlock him, of course) and wreak havoc on some unsuspecting citizens in Central Park.

"...a superhero story worthy of afternoon playtime."

That being said, the fun of exploring the open world doesn’t exactly translate to the story missions. Each plays out virtually the same way: fight a wave of enemies, construct a switch or platform to advance, fight another wave of enemies, more construction, fight a boss, ad infinitum. Monotony abounds during the story, to the point where it felt more like a tutorial for the abilities you’ll use in the open world. Boss battles, which are to a one entertaining, are the light at the end of the tunnel to this repetitive gameplay; it's just a shame the drudgery leading up to these epic fights weighs them down.

Thankfully, trademark Lego charm makes it all more bearable, and the laughs are heightened by some clever comedy bits. You’ll smile as The Thing constantly gets interrupted during his catch phrase. Walk into Deadpool’s room on the Helicarrier and you’ll enjoy the glimpse at his insanity. Even the many Easter eggs will make you laugh, like a passerby on the street who exclaims “Something about that big rainbow road in the sky…it makes me want to race!” then wonders why no one knows what he’s talking about. These instances--especially moments in which you'll have to save Mr. Stan Lee himself--fill Lego Marvel with personality, and it works every time.

You'll face plenty of iconic villains in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, but the biggest one you'll encounter (sorry, Galactus) is one that has plagued video games forever: The Dreaded Technical Problem! First, while walking through the city streets, you’ll notice that the NPC AI has no clear direction or boundaries. Many times during the adventure an intersection will fill up with pedestrians that somehow get stuck under cars in the middle of the street. It’s as if they all became Nostra-Lego, predicted some kind of superhero mayhem, and assumed crash positions under cars before anything actually happened. None of it made sense.

"Lego Marvel Super Heroes couldn’t slay all of its technical villains..."

Even worse than pre-mayhem mayhem are the moments where heroes would glitch into the environment, getting stuck on something and running around without actually moving. Most of the time another hero is able to break the offending piece and the level can continue, but this behavior can still hamstring your enjoyment. At one point toward the beginning of a level, Lego Wolverine stuck to an unbreakable gate, requiring an ultra-frustrating level restart.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes couldn’t slay all of its technical villains, but there’s plenty of fun to be had despite those shortcomings. How often do you get to control legendary Marvel superheroes in an urban sandbox, flying around and destroying things as you please? Couple that with truckloads of pieces to collect and heroes to unlock, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes will serve as a terrific ally in the fight against boredom. Excelsior!

This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.

More Info

Release date: Feb 18 2014 - DS
Nov 29 2013 - Xbox One
Nov 15 2013 - PS4
Oct 22 2013 - PC, PS3, 3DS, Wii U, PS Vita, Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: DS, Xbox One, PS4, PC, PS3, 3DS, Wii U, PS Vita, Xbox 360
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developed by: TT Games
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Cartoon Violence
Jason Fanelli

WHY HELLO THERE! Name's Jason, hailing from right outside Philadelphia. I've been playing the vidya games for well over 20 years, starting with the NES and making my way all the way up to the Wii U. My mother tells people that I taught myself to read at age 3 using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. I'm the type of guy that will try anything once, but I do have a few favorite genres, fighting and RPG being at the top. I've been writing about video games since I finished my Broadcast Journalism degree at Temple University in December 2008, mostly for Since then I've been to three E3s, two New York Comic Cons, the first ever PAX East, and many more to come (I hope). I hope everyone enjoys my stuff as much as I love producing it. Hit me up on Twitter @bigmanfanelli, I love talking games with anyone and everyone.

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  • nineteen84 - October 25, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    Does anyone know if the 3DS version is scaled back at all or contains the entire game?
  • Shyplay - February 11, 2014 5:49 p.m.

    It is very scaled back. It's the Wii U game, as described in this review, without the open world or great boss battles. You have linear levels to complete, and after you beat a level you unlock the next one on if you have the right amount of Gold Bricks, which you obtain by replaying level's to complete mini-missions. You can also get other rewards from completing these mini-missions, but those are few and far between. It also has no multiplayer.
  • g1rldraco7 - October 22, 2013 8:05 p.m.

    Hmmm a fair and well written review, I'll wait until it's on sale, but it sounds really fun.
  • larkan - October 22, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    The problem with these games is that they get repetitive quickly. I played Batman 2 for a few hours and never felt compelled to come back. At some point, it becomes apparent that there is TOO much content in these games, but all is completed with simple moves and costume changes.
  • nineteen84 - October 25, 2013 4:41 p.m.

    Yeah, kinda wish I hadn't played through the Star Wars games so much, because gameplay wise its all the same stuff. But I love Marvel comics so much I think that'll be enough to keep me playing.
  • Darkhawk - October 22, 2013 11:47 a.m.

    I think the thing we all REALLY want to know is: Can you play as Squirrel Girl?
  • Boonehams - October 23, 2013 9:46 a.m.

    Yes, you can, believe it or not. Also Howard the Duck, too.
  • slimjim441 - October 22, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    I love the Lego games, but they've never been a flawless masterpiece. Glitches and bugs seem a tad heavy this time around, but I'll still grab it for my brother. We've played through all the Lego games and had plenty of good times throughout, even when we made fun of how terrible Pirates 2 and 3 were during the entire play through.