By now, the formula for LEGO games is well-established. Players trundle through a large world filled with enemies to batter, blocks to smash, studs to collect, baubles to find and the odd LEGO set to build. The only real change that arrives in any game is centred on the intellectual property that developer Traveller’s Tales has been tasked with LEGO-ing up.
In the past it’s sprinkled its magic on the likes of Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, superheroes (both Marvel and DC) and most recently, The Incredibles. So over the years players have swung lightsabers, cast spells at Hogwarts, swung across pits with a bullwhip and leapt tall buildings with a single bound. Other than these changes (which are dictated by each IP), the series game design motto seems to be ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
For its latest outing, Traveller’s Tales has applied its formula to the villains of the DC universe. As is expected the game’s main mechanics are left mostly unchanged, and the only real deviation here is that players are able to construct their own villain to tool about the game with. Unfortunately, though, this change isn’t really well implemented as the game’s main campaign sidelines the player’s creation for the most part – presumably because it doesn’t have any dialogue.
The story flips between the good guys and bad guys and comic book aficionados will likely be tickled by the fact that the plot uses the Crime Syndicate of America (a group seldom seen outside of comics and cartoons), which for those who aren’t in the know is kind of like an evil Justice League. Ultra Man, Super Woman, Owl Man, Johnny Quick and Power Ring stand in for Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash and Green Lantern respectively and find themselves at odds with the DC universe villains, headed up by The Joker and Lex Luthor, who are rather nonplussed with their invasion.
To be fair, there’s a lot of fun to be had with LEGO DC Super Villains. Like all games in this series it’s easy to pick up and play, and it’s an absolute gift for parents who wish to play a game with their kids. There are slight improvements here and there – there are less platforming sections and the AI is somewhat better than in other LEGO games – but the driving mechanics are still awful and some of the puzzles oscillate between laughably easy and painfully annoying.
The one area where the game excels is in the writing and voice acting. The story, while silly, is genuinely funny at times and actors who lend their talents to the characters are note-perfect, particularly Mark Hamil as The Joker (but then between his work on the Batman animated series and the Arkham games, that’s to be expected).
Other than that, it’s pretty much business as usual. A little innovation would’ve been welcome, but maybe that’s too much to expect from this series. Players looking for a challenge – or indeed something new – will likely turn their noses up at LEGO DC Super Villains. For everyone else it’s a fun, if lightweight affair, that should appeal to players of all ages.
- LEGO DC Super Villains was reviewed on a PS4. A retail copy was provided by the publisher.