Lego Marvel Super Heroes - 10 things you need to know

It's a marvel

Traveller's Tales has made a name for itself by Lego-izing everything from Harry Potter to Luke Skywalker to Frodo Baggins. Next on its list of franchises to turn into plastic bricks is the Marvel universe--the whole thing. While it said that it discussed focusing on a singular aspect of Marvel, like the X-Men or Spider-Man, it eventually decided to go big, taking on over 80 years of lore in one game. Considering Lego Harry Potter and Lego Star wars were broken up into multiple games, this is actually pretty big.

We've seen it in action, and it looks absolutely splendid, merging the two brands masterfully. Here's everything you need to know, from the characters you'll play as to the enemies you'll bash into bricks.

The plot centers around the Silver Surfer's Cosmic Bricks

Galactus' dreaded forerunner, the Silver Surfer, arrived, but was promptly knocked out of the sky when his signature surfboard was destroyed. Pieces of it scattered around the world in the form of Cosmic Bricks, and now there's a mad dash to gather them up before they fall into the wrong hands. So, in other words, it's your standard Marvel crossover fare turned into a cutesy kids story.

We saw the first level, where the Sandman and Abomination had teamed up to get a Cosmic Brick located near Grand Central Station (which had been redubbed "Sand Central Station" on account of, well, all the sand). Hulk and Iron Man showed up to intervene, kicking off the acceptably epic storyline that'll have you jumping between heroes and villains as you try to gather all of the bricks.

There are over 100 playable characters...

A third playable character joined the action after a few minutes: Spider-Man. But the trio aren't the only characters you'll play in the game--TT said that there will be over 100 characters when the game ships. It couldn't give a specific number yet, because the total character count keeps growing as development progresses.

So far it could only confirm Loki, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Black Widow, Spider-Man, and Deadpool (though we assume that Sandman and Abomination will be playable, too, since we had a chance to see them in the first level). We asked what the most obscure Marvel character in the game was, but TT wasn't talking. It did say that people had continually shouted out different suggestions all day, and that no one had even scratched the surface of the weirdness that it was already including, so we have high hopes that deep cuts will make it into the game.

...and they all play differently

It's one thing to have 100+ characters, but it's another entirely to make them all play differently. That's apparently the case in Lego Marvel Super Heroes--TT wants to capture what makes the characters different, and to let you truly feel as though each of the unlockable characters is unique.

The first level's Hulk and Iron Man had totally different styles. Hulk is a "big fig," meaning he's a good double the size of other Lego pieces, and he can pick up large objects, throw them, and, of course, smash. He can also turn back into Bruce Banner (in an adorable animation), who can do things that Hulk can't, like build and use computers. Iron Man, on the other hand, plays like you'd expect him to, flying around and firing missiles from the sky. When Spider-Man was unlocked he came with his own suite of skills, allowing him to activate his Spider Sense, climb objects, and zip around with his webs.

Characters will fight their nemesis during the campaign

What's a hero without a villain? Each level will swap your characters to match the situation, moving the story forward with new characters to let you see a wide variety of Marvel icons. And when it comes to boss battles, the goal is to present signature encounters between rival characters, just as you'd hope to get in the comics.

We saw one such battle with Hulk fighting Abomination, and it played out exactly like you'd hope it would: with a quick-time event that literally just had the two brutes punching each other in the face. Like, just standing there, punching each other's stupid faces. Traveller's Tales said you can expect fights like this throughout the game, hinting that the second level, which features Wolverine and Captain America, would end with Wolverine fighting his rival (which, in case you're wondering, is commitment).

It's full of nods and winks to Marvel lore

One reason Traveller's Tales decided to go after the Marvel license is because the developers there are big fans. And, as such, the studio has made sure to pack plenty of references to the series into the game that other comic aficionados would smile at. When we saw Sandman and Abomination holding executives hostage in Grand Central Station, they weren't just generic guys in suits--they were Roxxon executives. If you don't know Marvel, you won't miss anything, but if you do you'll get a good laugh when you see exactly how realized TT's Marvel world is.

While we loved the subtlety of Roxxon getting a name drop, we were more a fan of what happened once Spider-Man, Abomination, and Iron Man defeated Sandman. Mere moments later, a bunch of people showed up to clean up the mess. To the untrained eye, they were simply random people, but Marvel fans will recognize them as Damage Control, the company that repairs the damage dealt by destructive superhero battles.

There's more combat than other Lego games

Lego games have always done a good job of mixing together puzzles and combat, usually because of the license in question. Lord of the Rings had fighting, but more time was spent trying to get places, and Harry Potter was lighter on wand duels and heavier on lifting stuff with magic. The Marvel universe, though, is nonstop conflict, and the game will match that with ample battles.

The level we saw was full of fighting, with Iron Man and Hulk blasting apart waves of Sandman goons. There were still some puzzles, usually involving Hulk smashing (he does love to smash), but the emphasis on fighting was clear.

It's full of spoken dialogue

For years, Traveller's Tales focused on silent comedy, opting to have its characters pantomime instead of dealing with the fact that it didn't get the actors fans would expect. This changed with Lego Batman 2, and since then each successive game has had more dialogue. Now, there's talking all the time, with heroes chatting both in cutscenes and during combat.

It's funny, too. Hearing Hulk cry out, Walls bad. Walls keep people apart! and Iron Man laugh, Well theres something you dont see everyday--a building I dont own, gave us a smirk, and Spider-Man's quips about needing to rush home to do homework had everyone smiling. Writer Mark Hoffmeier, who has contributed to a number of Marvel animated TV series, is helping with the dialogue, and so far his work seems to be leading to some clever encounters that might not have worked in silence.

Iron Mans suit changes throughout the game

What is Tony Stark without his Iron Man armor? Well, according to the Avengers movie, a "Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist." In the game, though, players won't have to worry about that, as Stark will upgrade his suit during the campaign of Lego Marvel Super Heroes.

We only saw his standard suit, which curiously was using the triangular Arc Reactor from Iron Man 2 instead of the circular one usually found in the comics. That said, we're excited to see what other outfits he gets to don throughout the game. Maybe he'll access his Space Armor MK I or Hydro Armor for some zero-g or underwater action.

It's the best looking Lego game yet

Though Lego games might look fairly standard at a glance, they're actually unassumingly beautiful. Traveller's Tales' engine is stunning to look at thanks to some clever uses of motion blur and depth-of-field focus (as well as the low-polycount of the Lego-ized characters, we assume), and Lego Marvel looks marvelous.

Traveller's Tales mentioned that the visuals have been pushed even further in the new game, with more Lego pieces on screen at a time than ever before. We watched as Lego Hulk smashed apart enemies and objects, resulting in hundreds of little bricks flying around the battlefield. As Hulk walked through the ruins, the pieces all moved and slid realistically, too, further adding to the tangible feel of the world.

You can explore an open-world NYC

Just as was the case with Lego Lord of the Rings, Lego Marvel Super Heroes will include open-world hub areas. In this case, it's New York City. But it's not just any NYC--this is Marvel's NYC, with a mix of real-world locations and places from the comics. You'll fly around the Statue of Liberty, check out Central Park, and then visit Stark Tower--it's all in one location.

There's stuff to do in the open-world, too, besides glaring at tourists. Exploring New York will unlock side missions that can be played to gain new characters, helping you fill out the game's 100+ character roster.

Don't lego

So, thinking about diving into the world of Lego Marvel when the game launches this fall for the 360, PS3, Wii U, DS, 3DS, Vita, and PC? What characters are you looking forward to playing as? Let us know in the comments below!

And if you're looking for more, check out the best Nintendo jokes in Lego City and 10 Lego games we want to play.

Hollander Cooper

Hollander Cooper was the Lead Features Editor of GamesRadar+ between 2011 and 2014. After that lengthy stint managing GR's editorial calendar he moved behind the curtain and into the video game industry itself, working as social media manager for EA and as a communications lead at Riot Games. Hollander is currently stationed at Apple as an organic social lead for the App Store and Apple Arcade.