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LEGO Marvel's Avengers

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, WiiU, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: TT Games
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2016 (US), Jan. 29, 2016 (EU)


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Xbox One Review - 'LEGO Marvel's Avengers'

by Adam Pavlacka on Feb. 19, 2016 @ 3:00 a.m. PST

Experience the first video game featuring characters and storylines from the blockbuster film "The Avengers" and the sequel, "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

After a run of solid games — LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO The Hobbit, and LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham— it seemed like the core teams at TT Games had reliably mastered the digital brick formula. Unfortunately, LEGO Marvel's Avengers doesn't quite live up to the games that have come before. Sure, it offers up plenty of LEGO brick-blasting fun, but the inventive puzzles and overall variety of the previous titles is lacking.

Instead of going with an original story like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel's Avengers uses "The Avengers" and "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" as the basis of its story. These films make up 11 of the game's 12 core levels, with "Captain America: The First Avenger" filling in the last level. These story levels are standard LEGO fare, though there is little in the way of puzzles or challenging boss fights. Prior games in the franchise were known for having moments that would stump players, often requiring exploration or experimentation in order to move on. Not so here. Progression is extremely straightforward, unless you've been stumped by one of the game's bugs.

Boss fights were another relative disappointment when compared to prior games in the franchise. Traditionally boss fights have always been half-fight and half-puzzle. Figuring out what you needed to do was just as much fun as actually doing it. No such luck this time. Boss fights are all straightforward affairs, requiring nothing more than prompted button mashing at their most taxing. We're talking LEGO Jurassic World levels of complexity here.

Where LEGO Marvel's Avengers does try to increase the challenge is simply by throwing more enemies at you. In the latter part of the story, this usually means wave after wave of Ultron drones. While it may be appropriate to the movie events, when playing, it feels like a basic way to extend the playtime of a level. This isn't helped by the fact that when there are a lot of characters on the screen, the game feels like it suffers from input lag. Button presses can be oddly delayed, resulting in missed actions on-screen. It's not constant, but when it happens, it can be frustrating.

Thankfully, LEGO Marvel's Avengers isn't all doom and gloom. Despite the rather average nature of the main story levels, the three additional levels (based on "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "Iron Man 3" and "Thor: The Dark World") actually manage to up the ante a bit. These stand-alone levels are independent of the main story, but they end up playing better and are simply more fun.

Once you've finished with the story, the open world is available for free play, and that sees the return of Manhattan, along with Asgard, the Barton Farm, Malibu, S.H.I.E.L.D. Base, Sokovia, South Africa and Washington, D.C. Manhattan is a large hub, similar to what we saw in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, with the remaining seven being smaller, more focused hub levels. The smaller hubs were more interesting to explore, as they all felt like they were bringing something new to the table. Manhattan, while larger, no longer has a map, and the mini-compass packed with activity dots doesn't exactly help navigation on that scale.

A handful of the open-world missions stand out from the rest, such as when you assist a confused Winter Soldier in remembering his past, helping an old Peggy Carter track down Captain America, or give Luke Cage a hand, but the majority of them are rather similar. You're usually collecting a handful of items (all of which show up on the minimap), beating up enemies, escorting a character, or taking selfies with the Hulk (one per hub level). After playing for a while, the repetition makes it all start to feel the same.

Surprisingly, searching out the locations of red and gold bricks isn't something you have to worry about. All of the gold bricks are visible on your mini-compass from the start, and all of the red bricks are available from the Collector, who appears in each level during free play. The Collector will ask you for an item, but what he asks for is inevitably in the immediate area. These are the easiest red bricks you've ever "found" in a LEGO game.

Thankfully, I didn't seem to run into any game-breaking bugs while playing, there were a few oddities that popped up. In the Sokovia hub, one of the gold bricks couldn't be claimed because the AI characters that were supposed to pull the levers never spawned. Reloading the level a handful of times eventually fixed that. Captain America's fire extinguishing move seemed to randomly switch buttons. Normally, it required raising the shield (B) and then (A) to extinguish. Sometimes the game insisted on a (B) press to extinguish. The game also doesn't respect the invert controls setting if you quit and reload. It'll say "inverted" but won't be unless you toggle it off, save, and then toggle it back on again.

Game audio is an improvement over LEGO Jurassic World, with the movie lines being easier to hear, though they are oddly quiet compared to any lines recorded specifically for the game. It's as though the movie audio clips are set to five and the game audio is set to 10.

Ultimately, LEGO Marvel's Avengers delivers plenty of fan service, but it fails to top its predecessors. Instead of something new and innovative, LEGO Marvel's Avengers is a by-the-numbers sequel that scratches the LEGO itch but doesn't offer much more than that. It's also the easiest LEGO game yet.

Score: 6.5/10

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