Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril Review

Title: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril
Developer: Warner Bros. Interactive / TT Games
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.3 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail

Lego games have become a very popular thing to develop, as of late.  These games started with Star Wars, when Lego Star Wars and Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy released back in the PlayStation 2 generation.  The games got so popular that people wanted more franchises to take part in it.  So, they made Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Batman, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Lego The Lord of the Rings, Lego Star Wars III, Lego Harry Potter, and more.  With the popularity going, Marvel has taken advantage of the popularity it’s gotten from its recent movies and TT Games has released a Lego Marvel game, titled Lego Marvel Super Heroes.

Lego games and handhelds have had a very peculiar relationship from the beginning.  The PSP got Lego Star Wars II, which was a direct port of its PS2 version.  After this, however, the handheld ports began to degrade in similarities to the console versions.  This is especially apparent on the Vita.  While games like Lego The Lord of the Rings plays just like it’s console counterpart, several levels and cutscenes were completely removed for that release.

When Lego Marvel Super Heroes released on the Vita, the developers said they wanted the Vita and 3DS versions of the game to be different and unique.  The big question is on how it would be different from, say, the PlayStation 3 version of the game.  What differences are there?  Let’s find out.  Here is our review of Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril for the PlayStation Vita.

~Story~

The plot of Lego Marvel Super Heroes is similar across all platforms.  The game begins with the Silver Surfer being following by the S.H.I.E.L.D. military group responsible for managing The Avengers, along with Iron Man.  As they trail them, an unknown aircraft attacks the surfer, resulting in his surfboard exploding into several mystical bricks known as “Cosmic” bricks that are scattered across the world.

As a result of this, Loki forms an alliance with Doctor Doom to recruit Marvel villains from around the world to hunt down these bricks and return them so they can make a powerful weapon with them.  In response to this conflict, the Avengers, which consist of several Marvel heroes, are dispatched by S.H.I.E.L.D. to combat the threat and retrieve the Cosmic Bricks before their villain counterparts do.

The plot contains funny and interesting combinations of characters, leading to a lot of laughs from the story scenes.  For a Lego game, the story does what it needs to to get you interested and make you laugh, though for the most part, it’s for Marvel fans.

The story is part of the differences in the games as well.  Unfortunately, some of the story scenes seemed to have been removed from the handheld versions of this game.  While most of the plot is there, some cut scenes are not present in this release.  While this doesn’t affect the gameplay, it is unfortunate to be missing this content, considering the game file is only 1.2 GB, far from the maximum capacity of a Vita Cartridge.

~Gameplay~

How the game plays is the biggest difference between the handheld and console versions of this game.  The Vita plays in the same way the 3DS version of this game plays, as it has in some past Lego games.  In making this version of the game unique, the developers have changed how the game is played to be optimized for pick-up-and-play sessions.  Depending on how you look at it, this can be either good or bad.

First of all, we have a fixed camera angle out and above the map you’re in.  This is opposed to having the camera directly behind your character, as is present in the PS3 version of the game.  If the screens do not give you a clear enough picture, think of it similar to the PSP version of Lego Star Wars III, or the Game Boy Advance version of the original Lego Star Wars.

Movement and combat are also a little bit different.  While you are still running through areas, destroying enemies and Lego objects to collect studs, and solving puzzles, they have changed how characters play.  As an example, only characters capable of flying (or web-slinging) can jump.  Other characters have the option to move around the maps, destroy objects, pull levers, and create Lego objects, but they cannot jump.

Those who can fly have a jump button you can press and once you’re in the air, you can fly around the map at a fixed height.  Characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man can attack while in this state, though you don’t have as much freedom of height as you do in the PS3 version of the game.

While there are two characters available to you, you cannot switch between them while in Story Mode.  If you go into the game as, say, Iron Man and The Hulk, you play as The Hulk.  As you progress, you can initiate special attacks from yourself or Iron Man (like Assists from Marvel vs Capcom 3), but you cannot switch control and play as Iron Man.  Switching characters is only available once you unlock Free Play.

The levels included in this game are the same levels that are in the home console release.  However, instead of playing a long ways to complete each level, they are split into three stages.  The first two stages have you progressing through areas, such as Stark Tower or Asgard, while the third stage serves as a Boss Fight.

With this stage “system”, the handheld titles have exclusive Challenges available.  In each stage, there are a set number of challenges that earn you Gold Bricks, which unlock content.  Challenges can range from finishing the level in a certain amount of time to collecting a set amount of Lego Studs.  Some challenges unlock new characters, while some unlock bonus content you can enable in Free Play.  Many of the challenges can be acquired in Story Mode, but some require specific characters to achieve the goal.  This adds a bit of fun and replay-ability to the game that the console version does not have.

These challenges are also part of the Story progression.  To be able to play in each level of the game, you need to have acquired a set number of Gold Bricks.  I found myself replaying stages and levels in Free Play to unlock the next Story Level on many occasions, especially towards the end.  It can get repetitive over time, though it is fun to unlock them for new characters and features, rather than just to progress the story.

If you take into account all of the challenges, replaying levels, as well as doing all of the Story Levels, the game will take a good chunk of your life.  I would say I spent at least 10-15 hours on the game before I finished the Story Mode, with several more hours being thrown on getting all of the Challenges done.

The gameplay system works well for what it is.  However, the PlayStation Vita is more than capable of running the full home console version of this game.  We should take what we can get, but this could have been the PS3 version, rather than being the same as the 3DS version of the game.

~Controls~

The control scheme of the game is pretty simple to get used to, and there are button alternatives for each of the touch screen controls.  You will not have a hard time playing the game from the button controls, though there are two ways of playing the game.

The touch controls for the game are as following.  To move your character, you tap the location you want them to move to.  If there is an enemy where you tap, they will move there and attack the enemy.  Jumping/Flying is handled by placing two fingers on the touchscreen and swiping upwards.  Swiping with one finger will allow your character to perform a “Charge” attack in that direction, sliding in a direction and attacking any enemy in their way.

Switching characters in Free Play is done by swiping your finger over the character icon at the top-left portion of the screen.  You can also initiate a special attack or the “Assist” special move from the other character by tapping on the character’s portrait on the screen.    Lastly, you can assemble Lego objects by swiping each piece to where it goes with the touch screen.

The button alternatives are a little easier to use.  Movement is handled by the Left Analog Stick.  Attacking enemies is done with Square, and you can perform ranged attacks (for characters that have them) with the Triangle button.  Circle handles building Lego objects, and the X button handles the Charge move.

The D-pad and L/R buttons handle the other commands.  The L button initiates your character’s special move.  The R button uses the second character’s “Assist” special move.  The left and right buttons on the D-Pad switch between characters in Free Play, and the Up button on the D-pad allows flying characters to start flying.

I felt as if the touch controls were a little awkward, especially when you are being horded by enemies.  I favored the physical controls in those situations, though I did try to use the touch controls in a few areas.  Physical controls are a little easier with reaction time.

~Presentation~

Despite all of the difference and setbacks the game has going for it with some of the gameplay and scenes, the presentation looks well done.  While there aren’t perfect character models throughout the game, it looks good and runs pretty smooth.  The fact that the angle is up and away from the character models also helps the game look smooth and solid.

If you take a close look at the models in the game, you will see that some of them have jagged edges around then and are far from perfect character models.  I am not sure if they are the same models as was used in the 3DS version of the game or not.  They look good, but they don’t look great.  Not anywhere near the graphical level of, say, Lego Lord of the Rings for the Vita.

The music of the game is very catchy and high quality.  Though I don’t know if the entire soundtrack is the same soundtrack that was used on the PS3, it suits each situation, having very “Hero” like music throughout the game, with more epic battle themes going on during each of the bosses of the game.  There are unique tracks for each of the areas, and it was enjoyable to listen to, though none of the tracks really stood out as something I wanted to download and listen to outside of the game.

~Overall~

The Vita version of Lego Marvel Super Heroes is a very different game from its PS3 counterpart.  The progression is different, the controls are different, and it seems to have replaced the missing scenes and characters with challenges.  There are a lot of things that people may be disappointed with if they expect it to be the PS3 version in a portable package.

For what it is, though, it’s a fun little Lego game with Marvel characters.  Considering what it’s missing and what it could have been, I would rate Lego Marvel for the Vita a 6/10.

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