Not to be confused with the excellent LEGO Marvel Superheroes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is a Marvel Cinematic Universe-specific take on the familiar LEGO game formula, which has mostly led to a game littered with obvious, unfortunate restrictions that end up making this one of the weakest of the many LEGO games.
The plot's so mixed up and out of order it’s likely to confuse.
The plot is perhaps the most obvious problem, due to the way it frantically jumps between scenes from The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Rather than being an interesting take on the MCU chronology, it’s so mixed up and out of order it’s likely to confuse anyone who hasn’t watched all of those films fairly recently. It feels a lot more like a series of uncoordinated vignettes than the high-quality, cohesive package we’ve come to expect from LEGO games.
Ignoring that mess, the occasional crashes, and a tedious puzzle minigame that pops up far too often, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is still a fairly decent third-person action-adventure that mostly focuses on fairly light, simple combat and some environmental puzzle solving, usually using abilities from specific characters to flick switches, pull levers, and open locked doors. If you’ve ever played a LEGO game before, you know the drill.
You’ll execute a devastating, engaging, and often fairly funny team combo move.
The one good innovation here is the cinematic team combos, showcased in the first mission, an impressive recreation of the opening scene from The Avengers. Where previously most combat in the LEGO games has been a series of mashing buttons to get through to the next, equally-blocky bad guy, LEGO Avengers introduces more involving, specifically timed QTE-like sequences. Here, an enemy will have a button prompt above their head and, if you press it at the right time (and the window is generous), you’ll execute a nicely animated combo move. Do this while you’re near a co-op partner and you’ll execute a devastating, engaging, and often fairly funny team combo move, with animations that vary depending on the two characters involved. Hulk ends up punching Thor at the end of theirs, for one.
The Old Stomping Grounds
The environments in that first level, and a strange assortment of others - but not all of them - are also the most realistic looking, dense places we’ve seen so far in any LEGO game. The various open-world ‘hubs’ - Manhattan, Asgard, Sokovia, Washington D.C., Barton’s Farm, S.H.I.E.L.D. Base and Malibu - are all remarkably well-fleshed out, familiar locations that are a delight to simply wander around, but they’re also littered with collectibles and side-quests. In any of these hubs, you can pull up a list of one of the 200+ playable characters and pick any that you’ve unlocked to traverse the environments with - Quicksilver is particularly good to use in Manhattan, for example, considering it’s so big and he’s so fast.
Almost everything in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is co-op friendly, too - even the open world and the side-quests within them can be played by two players at once, both doing totally different things (including separate side quests), with dynamic or a horizontally fixed split-screen. This means you can unlock extra characters and character variations twice as fast.
Co-Op Ball Drop
In some scenes one player is almost completely useless.
Some of the story missions aren’t quite the same, though, since of the more epic battles from the films - like Hulk versus Iron Man’s Hulk Buster - has the second player doing almost nothing, waiting for the first to finish fighting the Hulk. Because of a stubborn adherence to movie accuracy there are a surprising amount of sequences like this, where one player is almost completely useless, in a way that takes a lot of the fun out of those co-op experiences. It’s not a constant flaw, but, in comparison to previous LEGO games, it stands out.
Attempts at keeping the game as close to the movies as possible also affected the audio in unfortunate ways. Lines of dialogue pulled straight from the films and mixed into the game sound really unnatural, and dull compared to some of the newly recorded lines from Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. While on paper the idea of using the voices of actors we’ve come to know from the films sounds like it would make the game feel much more authentic, it also means a lot of awkward silences and repetition of lines - they couldn’t record new dialogue, so instead they sometimes don’t say anything at all where it seems like they should.
If you like the LEGO game formula, you have a preference for playing solo and you’re a huge fan of MCU, there’s still a lot of value for you in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, even despite a disjointed plot and annoying audio mixes. If you haven’t played any of the others and you’re thinking about picking up this one, I’d advise starting with just about any other game instead. This the weakest LEGO game I’ve played thus far, and had me missing games like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and LEGO Dimensions.