Game Reviews

Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

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| Lego Marvel Super Heroes
Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril
| Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Those who grew up reading Marvel comics know that today's cinema-goers are being deprived of the publisher's full super team-up potential.

Sure, it's cool to see Hulk smash Thor, and Iron-Man quibble with Captain America.

But in the comics you'll often witness Spider-Man swinging with The Punisher, The X-Men lending a reluctant hand, The Fantastic Four adding a faint whiff of fromage, and countless other characters joining the fray.

As recent years have shown, the key to much potential childhood wish fulfilment lies half-buried under a pile of Lego bricks.

Here's TT Games with a big loving tribute to all things Marvel.

Alternate universe

While it follows on from last year's similarly themed Lego Batman: DC Super Heroes, Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril isn't quite the Marvel equivalent that you might be expecting.

The basics are the same. You're running around as Lego caricatures of famous superheroes.

You smash up colourful Lego-brick worlds, collecting countless studs, switching between dozens of heroes (both famous and obscure), and engaging in delightfully messy fisticuffs.

Occasionally you encounter a cut-scene that stands as equal parts tribute-to and send-up-of the source material.

Able sidekick

However, unlike previous Lego iOS games, Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril isn't a slimmed down conversion of a home release.

Rather, it's a faithful conversion of a recent(ish) handheld game, which was developed alongside a more fully featured console version.

While many will bemoan the lack of a straight-up conversion job, I actually think that this new format suits mobile play better than previous Lego games.

Changing into costume

The view has been zoomed out a little, affording you better awareness of your surroundings. Everything seems a little clearer and less claustrophobic than in previous Lego games.

Technically, too, the game runs a treat on modern iOS hardware. On iPhone 5S the frame rate is as solid and smooth as a Gambit one-liner.

Also, each level has been split up into three separate stages, with the final one always a big boss fight. This means you can blow through a level in just a few minutes if you're really motoring, which is ideal for mobile play.

It is possible to die here, though, which will send you back to the beginning of the level. It makes you realise how lazy those earlier Lego games have made us.

Then there are the optional challenges set before each stage. Collect enough studs, rescue Stan Lee from a scrape, avoid switching characters, or perform any of the other varied tasks set out before you, and you'll collect a golden brick. You use these to unlock the next level.

The challenges are a great way of encouraging deeper exploration of each level whilst keeping simple objectives in view. Again, a quality that's conducive to a good mobile experience.

Every hero has their weak point

That's not to say that Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril is the perfect mobile Lego game. Far from it.

The controls continue to feel like a compromise whichever way you cut it. Once again, there's a casual touch-and-drag option that's clumsy, inaccurate, and deeply limiting.

Far preferable is the virtual control pad set-up, though that too is flawed. Moving around and bashing stuff is easy enough, but switching to your back-up hero or initiating a tag team attack requires you to lift your thumb off the virtual d-pad.

Even worse is the two-fingered swipe necessary to initiate aerial transitions for characters like Iron Man, Spider-Man, and The Human Torch. It's fiddly and unreliable in the heat of action.

Of course, all of this would be negated (at least for the committed iOS gamer) if TT Games would just implement controller support.

Lone operative

Then there's the absence of a second hero on screen for anything longer than the occasional tag team special move.

In previous games, when these secondary characters were a constant AI controlled presence, it lent an extra sense of life to proceedings.

There's no multiplayer either, but we've come to expect that from iOS Lego games now.

Finally, while splitting up and condensing the levels has arguably made for a better portable experience, it's also made the storyline (such as it is) feel disjointed.

The editing knife seems to have been wielded a little haphazardly, with new characters popping in with no introduction, and whole cutscenes seemingly excised.

And on top of that, the clips that survived the slicing are hideously low-resolution.

Super team

But removed from the context of native versions and previous Lego games, Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril is a highly entertaining and generously proportioned casual brawler.

And it stars some of the most iconic characters in recent cinematic blockbuster history. Not just that, but they're funnier and more loveable here than anywhere else.

TT Games is well aware not just of each character's history and defining attributes, but how they're perceived by modern fans - both hardcore and casual.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril represents something of a sideways step for the series on iOS. It's diminished in some respects and honed in others.

But ultimately, it's the most fun you can have on iOS with a thunder god, a billionaire playboy, a mutant soldier, a teenage web slinger, an indestructible green monster, and plenty more besides.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril refines the classic Lego game formula for mobile play, making for a slightly less ambitious but better fitting experience