Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
The exact moment I fell in love with Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 happened in the very first level. I control the Guardians of the Galaxy defending Xandar from the villainous Kang the Conqueror. Activating Star-Lord’s special ability prompts him to slip on some headphones and begin rocking out to the excellent 60s and 70s soundtracks from the the two films, licensed music and everything! All the figures around you begin to dance, because how could you not?
The Lego games have remained family-friendly, co-op games over the last decade but vary wildly in quality from buggy, awkward messes to peak couch co-op. The first Lego Marvel Super Heroes was one of the best Lego games to date. The sequel skirts close to being my new favorite Lego game, with amazingly varied level designs and a wealth of fun content – provided you only care about the MCU version of Marvel.
We Built This City
Most Lego games simply retell the story of its licensed movie, such as Jurassic World or Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 has no such restrictions. The story centers around Kang the Conqueror, an interdimensional megalomaniac who collects time periods just for funsies. After Xandar he sets his sights on Earth, ripping Manhatten away and placing it within Chronopolis.
Chronopolis is the gigantic, free-roaming hub world and a big reason why Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is such a joy to play. Wildly different zones and eras are mashed together, which is pretty much exactly how I used to play with my own Lego sets. Avengers Mansion is now next to Wakanda, then Medieval England and Asgard. Head the other way and I can climb the mountains to K’un L’un, travel to a dystopian city run by Hydra, or explore the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. My personal favorite was New York City Noir, which bathed everything in black and white.
Chronopolis is easily the best hub world Traveler’s Tales has ever designed. It’s easier than ever to traverse and find side quests and puzzles thanks to map markers, fast-travel, and instant vehicle building and flight powers.
As you travel between story missions and explore Chronopolis, Kang harries you ever step of the way. His ever-present antics over the loud speakers frequently made me giggle and laugh out loud. Lego humor can be hit or miss but often meshes well with Marvel’s fun-loving style in the MCU. Nowhere is that better represented than with Kang, one of my favorite game villains of the year.
No More Mutants
The first Lego Marvel Super Heroes featured every Marvel comic character you could dream of, but the sequel concerns itself only with the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That means no X-Men, no Fantastic Four, no Deadpool (Spider-Man does make the cut, however). Even the film Avengers mostly take a backseat to the next generation of heroes, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Inhumans, the Defenders, Captain Marvel, Wasp, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Kamala Khan.
It’s a fun roster that’s far more diverse than many previous Marvel games, but the complete exclusion of mutants (owned by Fox) is a huge bummer. Likewise the story-lines are very much modeled after current and upcoming events in the MCU, such as Surtur attacking Asgard, Hulk in Sakaar, and Klaw in Wakanda.
Every character has a selection of traits, powers, and weapons that determines their fighting style, as well as which puzzles they can complete. Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 features the widest selection of puzzles and abilities of any Lego game I’ve played. It actually gets a bit frustrating with the simplistic controls. Activating certain abilities overlaps others, such as changing Groot from big to small while also attempting to switch him out for a different character.
Likewise combat feels a bit tricker than it should be. Combat has never been the series’ strong suit. Frequent boss battles are nice but almost all of them wear out their welcome. There’s still no real stakes to dying (losing a few studs). Every fight mostly comes down to mashing the attack button. Special abilities and combo attacks don’t end up adding all that much to it (aside from Star-Lord’s dancing of course).
Puzzles are generally easy and kid-friendly: applying Thor’s lighting blast to panels, or squeezing through grates with Kamala. Many puzzles require characters that you don’t yet have access to, or aren’t available in that story mission, prompting you to return in free play mode to unlock everything. I loved that levels were broken up to be shorter (with more levels), making it much easier to go back and replay individual sections.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 has been rated E for Everyone. The Lego games are some of the most kid-friendly around, and this one is no exception. Characters simply explode in a pile of Lego bits when slain.
Too many little things prevent Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 from achieving Lego perfection. I hit at least one nasty bug that forced me to restart a level. I hated the lack of X-Men, the touted four-player battle arena is lame, and the expanded character abilities don’t really improve combat all that much.
Yet Marvel and Lego mesh beautifully together, and Chronopolis is an absolute joy to explore. Between awesome new Gwenpool side missions, twenty replayable story missions, and the huge list of unlockable characters and gold brick puzzles there are dozens of hours of fun things to do. The time-hopping plot is a blast and Kang is just the best. If you’ve ever loved a Lego game – or have kids that do, you really can’t go wrong with Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2.