By Kevin Kelly
While LEGO has long conquered the realm of real-world toys, they didn't really make a big dent in the video game arena until "LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game" back in 2005. This ushered in an era of minifig-based games featuring licensed properties featuring characters from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more, all at the hands of developer Traveller's Tales. Not a bad job of bringing a physical toy to life in a virtual medium that revolves around storytelling.
This trend also shows no signs of slowing down, with TT having already developed seventeen LEGO video game titles, and at GDC we were treated to a brief demo with the newly-announced "LEGO Marvel Super Heroes." While "LEGO Batman: The Videogame" was DC's initial entry into the LEGO video game arena, the sequel, "LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes" was the one that brought in the lion's share of other DC characters, and was TT's first game to feature speaking minifigs instead of pantomime. Marvel isn't making that same mistake, with this title just laying the whole Marvel universe out there for you.
The setup is cosmically simple, with the Silver Surfer's surfboard being destroyed, and raining Cosmic Bricks everywhere. The heroes are tasked with getting these bricks back before the bad guys find them, and ultimately they will have to battle Galactus for the fate of the world. You know, your basic end of the world scenario, requiring heroes to unite in for a common goal of tracking something down. Not that we mind at all, but we'd like to toss this idea out for for a sequel: The Infinity Gems.
Our time in the game focused on some of the more Avenger-tastic Marvel heroes due to the success of "The Avengers," which was evident at the pause screen showing a LEGO rendition of Stark Tower smack in the middle of Manhattan. Producer Phil Ring promised us that there will be plenty of other identifiable locations throughout Manhattan, and we hope he means things like the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building, and other notable spots like Asteroid M and Asgard. Plus, there are many actual New York City landmarks in the game, such as Grand Central Station, which has been taken over by Sandman and the Abomination and turned into "Sand Central Station." Baaa-zing!
Your standard LEGO video game mechanics are at work here, collecting bricks, building items, smashing bad guys, and so on. But they have tweaked things a bit and tailored it to the Marvel Universe. One of these changes involves adding what they call "BIG-figs" to the game, such as the Hulk. He towers above normal figs, and with the press of a button you can also change him into Bruce Banner, allowing him to access harder to reach places, and he can build certain types of tech. Such as water cannons to take down Sandman.
Certain characters can only interact with certain types of bricks as well. Only Iron Man can destroy silver bricks with his repulsors, and only Spider-Man can wall-crawl on specially marked bricks. They've also added the new ability to literally pull pieces of LEGO debris out of the world and hurl them at your opponents, and the game can now visually track hundreds of multiple LEGO bricks on-screen at the same time. Which is impressive with the Hulk does his patented "HULK SMASH!" move and pounds the ground, launching everything skyward. Hulk can also square off against the Abomination, and Traveller's Tales promises that there will be many more classic battles through the game.
Two additional things managed to impress us about this game. This will be the third Traveller's Tales LEGO game with voice acting in it, which has been working well for these licensed games so far. Thankfully, this means that they also keep some of the patented pantomime humor around. Additionally, they will be featuring more than 100 playable Marvel characters in the game, which is a record for a TT LEGO title. Ring pointed out that the last Harry Potter game featured more than that, but many of those were just skins, featuring different costumes for the characters. But 100 different, playable characters? Bring it on. And before you ask, yes... that includes Deadpool.
"LEGO Marvel Super Heroes" arrives later this year for just about every system under the sun: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii U, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and the PlayStation Vita. So, it's shouldn't be too hard to Make Yours Marvel.