Cute, silly and oh-so charming, the Lego series has quickly become one of our go-to suggestions for anyone after a nice co-operative game to play with their friends and family. With their simple blend of satisfying smashing of everything in sight and straightforward puzzles to solve, you always know what you're getting, even if each new game takes on a slightly different twist, with more collectables to collect and more slapstick jokes to raise a smile. We may have 100% finished every game in the series so far, but that doesn't mean our interest in the is waning at all – in fact, at a recent Sony event we spent more time camped out playing through a couple of levels of the upcoming Lego Marvel Super Heroes than we spent on any other game.
Pulling in super heroes from all around the Marvel universe and giving them a distinctly Lego makeover, the story behind the game is that the Silver Surfer's surfboard has been shattered into a million pieces, scattering powerful Cosmic Bricks all over the Marvel universe. Worried by the potential consequences of these bricks ending up in the wrong hands, Nick Fury summons up a team of superheroes that makes the Avengers look like also rans, as everyone from Spiderman and Wolverine to Iron Man and the Hulk pull together to round up the pieces before the likes of perennial villains Loki and Galactus can get their hands on them. It's an original story written by the Lego team, and is basically an excuse to round up as many superheroes and villains from the Marvel universe as they can, so that everyone will be catered for.
The first of the two levels we played through, called 'Sand Central Station', saw the winning combo of Iron Man and the Hulk tasked with working their way across a distinctly dusty looking New York City, as they tried to team up with Spiderman for the final showdown. Initially faced with a bridge littered with crashed cars and trains, it was a job The Hulk (being the big, strong guy he is) looked like he was itching to take care of, and after pressing a button to take control of him, we started lifting and chuck the debris off the bridge with ease. Our co-op partner, meanwhile, had chosen to take control of the sauve Iron Man, who flew around taking out the bad guys from the air, whilst melting any shiny metal objects with his missiles. As with all Lego games that came before it, co-op is a huge deal in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, with two characters often having to work together to solve puzzles. As each character has a different special ability, it's often a case of working out who you need to use together in order to proceed.
Soon we reached a clearing of sorts where the Hulk and Abomination, both examples of the new 'Big-fig' characters (literally just a larger version of a Lego man), have a little brawl outside the station, before the latter gets hurled through the station window. Inside the central station, where piles of sand stretch as far as the eye can see, it once again fell to Hulky and Iron Man fight their way through waves upon wave of the Sandman's minions and out through the other side of the station, putting a couple of huge cannons out of action along the way.
Unfortunately for the dynamic duo, no sooner have they set foot outside than a giant swirling mass of bricks sweeps them up tornado-style, carrying them off to the rooftops – fortunately, our old friend Spider Man comes to our aid, latching on to his mates with his webs and pulling them back down to earth. In the distance, we notice the sea of bricks sweep around the Sandman and transform into a giant, stereotypical Lego-man torso, which, in true tongue in cheek fashion, becomes the end of level boss. After shutting down a couple of generators the only way Lego men know how (ie. smashing them to pieces), the trio finally reach the boss. Just one problem - how to we beat it? Luckily spotting the giant great water tower over the corner of the screen, we figured we had our option - but it wasn't quite clear how to get to it. Luckily, we weren't just playing as the Incredible Hulk - we were playing as Bruce Banner as well. A quick press of a button was all it took to transform from the bulging Hulk into the timid Bruce Banner, before clambering up a rope and switching back to the big green smashing machine to break up the water tower, which could then be rebuilt into the obvious weapon to use against a giant sand monster – a water cannon. All that was left to do is repeat the process another two times with water cannons in different places, and we gave the guy the super-soaking he deserves, before throwing in the back of a police van as the level ends. Job's a good 'un.
After that, it was off to the icy kingdom of Asgard for the 'Bifrosty Reception' level, with Wolverine, Thor, Captain America and the Human Torch in tow, where once more, Loki has been wreaking havoc. Beginning inside an observatory, we soon find ourselves knee-deep in frosty giants determined to knock our blocks off, although with the Human Torch's firepower, they don't exactly last long. In fact, we got a teensy bit carried away playing with fire, and ended up toasting Wolverine too, revealing his indestructible adamantium skeleton insides, in a nice nod to fans of the Marvel tales. Once we've dispensed with the intruders, we set about melting through a few frozen bits and bobs to build a giant Lego sword, which Thor can zap back to the land of the living, opening up the path to the giant rainbow bridge of Heimdall.
Sadly, Loki used our progress as a prompt to throw more minions our way, intent on sticking their icy spikes into our bricktacular foursome – although once more they were no match for Wolverine's slashy claws and Captain America's shield throws, even if we did get turned into blocks of ice a few times. As we approached the gates to Asgard, Thor's tumultuous brother sits mockingly atop the fence and takes poor Wolverine hostage via some kind of mind control whilst throwing yet more frost giants our way. Fortunately, all old Wolvy needs to wake him up is a sharp punch to the face, and before long we're weakening the icy gates with the Human Torch and forcing our way through with a well-aimed hurl of Thor's hammer.
Through the gates we find Loki lurking, this time stealing our Thor and holding him hostage on a high up platform up some heat-proof icy stairs, demanding the use of the airborne Captain America to save him. But that doesn't help the rest of the herd out, as they still can't get up the stairs - at which point we discover old Logan's claws aren't just for show, and can be used to pull himself up sheer walls - another rather cool ability that'll no doubt come in handy for solving plenty of puzzles. Teaming up with Mr. America, they construct a console of sorts which, when activated, makes another alternative staircase rise from the ground – so ending the level.
As is the case with most of the more recent Lego-isations, the addition of voice acting lets means there's room for plenty of pun-tastic dialogue and slapstick humour along the way – whether it's Iron Man's worry that crimefighting might “cut into his jacuzzi time”, Hulk's reluctance to listen to any kind of plan that doesn't involve smashing or the little hints at rivalry between competing heroes such as Spiderman and the Avengers team. There's plenty of nods to the comics for seasoned Marvel fans too, such as the Damage Control guys that tidy up in the background, references to the fictitious Roxxon Corporation as well as a cameo character of the comic book icon, Stan Lee.
With a suspected release date of this October, we're counting down the days till Lego Marvel Super Heroes lands – as Lego Batman showed, playing as heroes (and villains) makes for one of the best Lego games of all time. And with our allegiance more towards the Marvel side of comic books than the DC part, we're expecting great things. Especially after this amazing Big-Fig trailer staring Hulk, Abomination and a teddy bear: