In 2013, the first LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was a standout co-op launch title for the new Xbox One. Now LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is the series' latest superhero-packed adventure, featuring the largest roster yet, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gwenpool, Captain Marvel, and more!
This sequel takes place immediately after the first LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, with a new cosmic threat: Kang the Conqueror (a major foe who has yet to appear in the films). Kang has pulled important Marvel locations across time and space into his dimension outside of time: Chronopolis.
Now a whole new batch of heroes (and villains) will have to travel to Nowhere (Guardians of the Galaxy), Attilan (Inhumans), K'un-L'un (Iron Fist), the Marvel Noir version of New York, Nueva York from Marvel 2099, and even more exotic locales as they fight to stop Kang and restore the universe!
The game wisely begins with a level featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, who closely resemble their movie counterparts (while sadly sounding nothing like them). The team answers a distress call from the Nova Empire's homeworld of Xandar, where Kang is unleashing the first of his world-destroying attacks. The game captures the Guardians vibe extremely well, with beautiful space-scapes and occasional songs from Peter Quill's mixtape providing an authentic feel.
The actual gameplay should be instantly familiar to anyone who has played one of the Traveler's Tales-developed LEGO games before – they all play pretty much the same, for better or worse. Players step into large but linear levels, fighting bad guys, collecting LEGO studs (currency), and solving lots of puzzles. Progression is generally tied to those puzzles, which can be fun, until you get stumped and have to look around for five or ten minutes for some clue you missed. This series could really use a puzzle help feature.
While the gameplay may be tried and true, this entry's not without its improvements. During combat, for instance, you can hold the character change button to do a team-up move as you switch characters. And flight, often a tricky part of these games, has seen some refinements. While playing as a flying character like Thor or Iron Man, you can use the right analog stick to fly up or down – swimming works the same way.
The levels are filled with lots of variety and set pieces as well. You'll get to man the turret of Star-Lord's ship and then hop out to go toe-to-toe with a gigantic celestial, take on the Sinister Six as Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, tear up a wild western saloon while fighting MODOK, join Kid Colt the cowboy as he races across the roof of a speeding train, and lots more.
The boss fights often drag on a bit, as there's always some sequence of puzzles you must go through before you're allowed to hit the villain. But the little road bumps are always followed by an amusing cinematic sequence, more characters unlocked, or a joyful new area to explore.
Playing in the sandbox
Between levels, you'll initially visit the Avengers Mansion. There you can complete little sidequests and talk to Gwenpool, a former comics fan who gained amazing fourth wall-breaking powers. She provides access to cheat code entry (codes let you unlock characters early in this one) and game-changing cheats that must be purchased with studs.
Eventually you'll gain full access to Chronopolis, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2's sandbox-style hub-world. Open world areas have been a key feature of these games since the excellent LEGO Batman 2, but Chronopolis is easily the most impressive sandbox so far. Spread across the vast location are all those important Marvel locations, torn from their universes to build Kang's strange captive world. There are tons of places to explore and sidequests to complete, and of course you can revisit story levels to unlock more characters.
The first LEGO Marvel Super Heroes featured a whopping 180+ characters. This installment ups the ante with an incredible 230+ playable heroes and villains – and that's not counting DLC characters! Sadly, the X-Men and Fantastic Four have been excluded from this installment. Their omission seems to be a result of a mandate stemming from the cinematic rights to those characters being tied up at Fox Studios.
Still, this game has a fantastic roster even without the likes of Mr. Fantastic and Wolverine. Not only do the Guardians of the Galaxy play a major role, you'll also get to play as newer and lesser-known characters such as Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Spider-Gwen, She-Hulk, the Inhumans, Captain Marvel, and so many more. The core Avengers are all present as well, but this entry really excels at giving everyone their time in the spotlight.
As always, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 supports full 2-player local co-op throughout the entire campaign. When playing with another person, the game defaults to a vertical split-screen. This can be a bit visually confusing at times, but it's perfect for dividing and conquering large levels. Puzzles are often built around teamwork anyway, with flying characters opening up paths for grounded teammates, etc.
Competitive gamers might also enjoy the four-player battle arena, a feature introduced in LEGO Dimensions. Arena mode features multiple game types and arenas. One such type, Capture the Infinity Stones, has individual players or teams battle for control of the coveted McGuffins. Each stone has a unique power to use against your opponents, making for some dynamic battles.
While it's true that a LEGO game will never surprise anybody, the individual games can still be tons of fun – especially when you like the property involved. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a blast for Marvel fans, with hundreds of characters great and small, 20 huge levels with full co-op support, and a vast and beautiful open world to explore. True believers will get more than their money's worth from this one.
- A huge Marvel adventure with full local co-op support.
- More than 230 beloved and/or obscure playable characters.
- The Chronopolis sandbox world is the series' best yet.
- No X-Men or Fantastic Four characters. :-(
- Having to select the language on startup every single time is really annoying.
- It's still too easy to get stumped by some puzzles.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 costs $59.99 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and $39.99 on Steam. For $74.99, you can grab the Deluxe Edition that includes the Season Pass (which bundles DLC characters and levels) with the game.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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