LEGO Marvel Avengers Feels Familiar

LEGO Marvel's Avengers
LEGO Marvel's Avengers. WBIE

It’s a LEGO world, we just live in it. “LEGO Dimensions,” “LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham,” “LEGO Jurassic World”—there are more LEGO games for the PlayStation 4 than any other franchise. There is no way to play “Bioshock” or “Mass Effect” games on a next-generation console, but you could literally spend hours collecting LEGO figurines and the studs that make up the currency of this series. And even as “Dimensions” is still going strong, Warner goes and releases another game, “LEGO Marvel’s Avengers,” a game that I should note I suggested a couple years ago (I’ll be expecting my royalty check any day now) and even announces another LEGO game in this Summer’s “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” an inevitability if one thinks about it for a second.

So, is “LEGO Marvel’s Avengers” too much of a good thing? Has this franchise reached over-saturation? At first, it certainly feels that way. Opening with the action sequence from “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” it’s hard to shake the been-there-done-that aspect of this title, especially after the forward-thinking presented in the new style of mash-up gaming in “LEGO Dimensions.” It’s always fun to get behind action-packed characters like Captain America and Hawkeye, but to say we’ve played this style of LEGO action before would be an understatement. There are some differences—including a new interface that allows for special combat moves—that pick up the overall pace of the game, but it’s the most familiar LEGO title to date.

“LEGO Marvel’s Avengers” allows gamers to play through scenes from “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World” (sorry, no “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Ant-Man,” although those seem destined to show up in a future game). So, you get to play all of the Avengers plus Quicksilver, Ultron, Loki, Falcon, War Machine, and many more. Even Devil Dinosaur. All in all, there are over 200 playable characters in “LEGO’s Marvel Avengers,” and much of the game uses audio from the six films, which means voice work by name actors instead of bad subbing. Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders and Hayley Atwell even recorded additional dialogue for the role.

Reviewing “LEGO’s Marvel’s Avengers” comes down to expectations. Yes, this game is a bit more action-packed than some LEGO titles, but that’s one of the very few variations in gameplay for those of you who have played LEGO PS4 games. It’s almost a “LEGO Greatest Hits” at times, employing characters, puzzles, collectibles and gameplay that we’ve seen before. However, there’s some comfort in that. “Jurassic World” had some new mechanics and “Dimensions” often felt like a whole new game with its portal-based, physical puzzle-solving. So, in that sense, returning to the basics of a game like “Avengers” might be appealing to some. There were times, after I got over the familiarity of it all, that I thought to myself that this is a good example of why the LEGO games became popular in the first place. If you’ve been frustrated by too many bells and whistles in recent LEGO games, “Marvel’s Avengers” kind of brings it back to the core, and it’s a more successful game in terms of movie tie-in than something like “Disney Infinity: Marvel’s Super Heroes,” which features many of the same characters but the not the set pieces from the movies that fans love.

The other side of that is that games naturally succumb to a law of diminishing returns. Not only have we played MANY LEGO games in the PS4 era, it kind of feels like we’ve literally played this one before. In fact, there was one level that I could have sworn was in a previous game. They’re starting to blur together, and that’s not really a good thing for gamers over drinking age. Kids don’t mind repetition, but the LEGO games succeeded by appealing to a wider demographic than the average kid’s game. Let’s hope they find something new to bring that demo back for “The Force Awakens.”