Space, the funky frontier. These are the voyages of the Milano, home to the Guardians of the Galaxy. Their ongoing mission, to guard the galaxy while listening to hits of the 70s. To collect studs. To boldly build what nobody has built before! That’s right, I played LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, which is basically LEGO Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Featuring The Avengers & Friends.
Kang, the time-travelling conqueror, attacks Earth and steals Manhattan, Wakanda, a Florida swamp and Lemuria. Then he travels through time to nick Neuva York (New York in 2099), Medieval England and Ancient Egypt. He also travels through the multiverse and brings back New York Noir and Times Square from Hydra World. Finally, he grabs various parts of Asgard, Attilan, Hala, Xandar, K'un-Lun and Sakaar, before he smooshes them all together into a single world, which he names Chronopolis.
A lot of the story is based on a maxiseries from 1999 called Avengers Forever, but adding in the Guardians. It’s a decent enough story, and a great Kang one, so works fine for this. Except Kang seems to just want to rule Chronopolis, instead of ruling everything and everywhen.
So that explains the basics - fresh off of their victory against Loki in the last game (I mean literally, they were still in the middle of the party), the heroes of Earth are flung into a world made of many worlds. As you progress through the game’s 20 levels, you’re given a selection of missions following several group’s exploits. Between missions you’re free to explore Chronopolis, which is huge. You’re probably aware that Assassin’s Creed Origins has the entirety of Ancient Egypt as it’s map - well, I already mentioned that Ancient Egypt is but one of the areas you’re free to explore in this game. Just saying.
Honestly, I’m glad that the hub world wasn’t just New York again. After it being in the first LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, it would have been a horridly lazy overuse. I mean yes, the city was huge, but the latter two LEGO Batman games have wildly different hub areas. Thankfully Chronopolis is much better than the Justice League Watchtower.
Each area of Chronopolis is different in looks and weather. TT Games even went the extra mile and put a filter over New York Noir, making everything look quite sepia tone, just like the comics. However, there are some areas you would have thought would make an appearance, but don’t because this is a Disney Marvel game.
That means any character that isn’t in a Disney Marvel movie is not in this. Which also means that any related characters are similarly missing. No Fantastic Four, so there’s no Doctor Doom or Latveria. We get Atlantis-lite in the shape of Lemuria, because Namor is lumped in with the Fantastic Four, too. There are also no mutants, and most glaringly no Deadpool.
“But!” I hear you cry, “Who presents the red bricks in this game if not Deadpool?!”, well it’s a character that has absolutely no ties to mutants! A fairly new character that didn’t exist when Marvel sold the damn dirty muties to Fox. Gwenpool!
The short version: Gwenpool lived in our world, as in the world which you are reading this from right now, and was sucked into a comic book. Knowing that Deadpool and (ugh) Spider-Gwen were the most popular characters at the time, she named herself Gwenpool to ensure her survival. Since she knows she’s in a fictional universe, she breaks the fourth wall with glee and abandon - and thus is a perfect fit to take over from “the guy from the last game”, with pink bricks instead of red ones.
There are 10 pink brick levels, unlocked by completing two related side missions in Chronopolis. It’s not easy to find those specific ones, since the world is filled to bursting with people needing your help. Beat up those guys, find this, locate those, return my stuff… There are loads of races, from boats to planes, you can fly through rings of birds or swim through rings of fish, find and destroy speakers and drones, beat up various groups of enemies…
I’ll put it this way - my wife and I played it for four days, going on 30 hours, and still only have about 80% of the game complete (12 hours in, we had finished the story). You think you’ve finished an entire section of Chronopolis? Well guess what, there’s now a boss to fight. Hey, over there is a gold brick hidden inside a pipe, which is underwater! And there’s a woman who can’t decide where she should move to, and is willing to take any hero or villain’s advice.
This stuff is on top of the minikits, character tokens and Stan Lee in peril that litter the 20 main levels, as well as the Gwenpool levels. So if you love a LEGO collectathon, then you owe it to yourself to pick this up.
The soundtrack is something which could have brought people in, since as mentioned at the start there are a couple of 70s licensed tracks in the game. Unfortunately, it’s just loops of them. There’s only one song played all the way through, which becomes very apparent during its fourth repeat during the end credits. Star-Lord, of course, puts on his Walkman and dances to one of three or four loops, and can fire his element guns - much like he does at the start of Guardians of the Galaxy. Except the lasers fire off in random directions, which I thought was a hilarious touch.
One thing I didn’t think was funny was the lack of the voice actors from the first game. Due to the voice actor’s strike (which ended fairly recently), the original actors were unavailable. Unfortunately, the non-union actors they got to replace them aren’t exactly the best, with most sound nothing like you would expect. It’s not helped by the sound mixing being all over the place, with lines either too loud or too quiet at random. One boss fight had most of her lines delivered very loudly, until she was almost defeated where her lines went back to the base volume.
Another big issue I had with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 was most likely due to me playing it co-op with my wife. Not only is the forced horizontal split screen awkward (even in an on-rails shooter section…?), but if you’re not close to your partner in Chronopolis there’s a high chance that any mission you take will glitch out and you won’t be able to complete it. One of us frequently had to stop what we were doing and head over to the other, to ensure that Madame Hydra or Throg wouldn’t stop in place and refuse to continue leading us around.
The game is fun, and there are great ideas, but those issues do make it harder to enjoy fully. One of the new mechanics is Doctor Strange being able to manipulate time forwards and backwards. Can’t activate a switch because it’s broken and there are no extra pieces to rebuild it? Well, maybe you can rewind time to when the switch wasn’t broken. Groot uses timey-wimey nonsense to go from baby Groot to big Groot, but it’s hardly the same thing.
Something expanded upon from the last games are the charge attacks, which were basically only two or three things in past games. Holding one of the attack buttons on most of the main characters does something unique - Howard the Duck plays an electric guitar, Agent Venom whips tendril guns around, Black Bolt fires up his voice… There are some that double up, which is understandable with well over 200 characters, so it’s fun to experiment. Sure, it suggests you use Iron Man for that laser, but you could use Captain Marvel instead and avoid that unnecessarily long suit up sequence of his. Need Thor to charge some electricity? Nah, use Crystal or Rocket and not have to charge yourself before firing!
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is fun to play, and despite some challenging puzzles is a joy to play. It’s a pity that the down points are so noticeable, and one of them is game breaking. Hopefully it’s patched, or you play it solo, because there’s a lot of fun to have here despite the voices.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
A very fun game with lots and lots of things to do, sadly let down by some bugs and poor audio quality. 70s songs and a 90s story don’t quite save this.