Whilst almost universally praised for their accessibility and appeal, LEGO Games are often touted as being “all the same” or criticised for their lack of innovation from entry to entry and for better or worse, TT Games latest release, LEGO DC Super-Villains, does little to shake up this formula, however on the flip side, it certainly delivers one of the best iterations of the genre to date.
Taking into consideration that this is the 24th (by my count) entry in a series that dates back all the way to 2005, there’s definitely a lot to unpack when it comes to judging the quality of a LEGO game and as some of you will no doubt know, not all LEGO games are created equal. Or built equally. You know what I mean.
It’s the same romp you’ll know if you’ve played any of the previous titles from the pantheon of licenses that include the likes of Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter and even DC’s arch-nemesis, the Marvel games.
But where Super-Villains stands out, is in its presentation. The game boasts a loud green and purple colour scheme, alongside a particularly catchy theme song to highlight the fact that the Villains are the star of the show here, and it works really well, almost coming off as a Suicide Squad Junior of sorts.
The storyline is a fun, simple to follow plot that sees the Justice League defeated by their evil counterparts, the Crime Syndicate, forcing our beloved cast of kooky villains into action, to show the alternate-earth-invaders who’s boss.
It feels like a big budget production, partly thanks to the stellar performances given by longtime Joker and Batman actors Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, alongside a host of other memorable Voice Actors that help in bringing a new sense of authenticity to the cutscenes, which will be good news to any fans of the old animated series seen on TV.
In terms of structure, it’s about what you’d expect. You take a selection of preset characters through a number of levels, smashing up everything in sight, collecting studs and solving the odd light puzzle through use of the various abilities and powers in your roster.
The action is often broken up by mini-cutscenes inside gameplay, which can feel frustrating and disjointed to an older/more experienced player, but serve an important purpose in helping the younger crowd keep track of the action.
Whilst not a new feature in and of itself, the character creation tool has been given a drastic overhaul this time, partly in thanks to the player character being a central focus of the game’s story missions.
You can now not only create your own minifig, complete with a huge degree of customisation but you now actively unlock and acquire super powers and costume pieces from within the stages, giving a new level of incentive to replaying previous stages in free mode later down the line.
Praise also goes to the open world areas, once again being a genius way of stitching story missions together, but also hosting side objectives and collectables at the same time.
One thing I found extremely pleasing was how the ability to freely switch between unlocked characters and vehicles in the open world is given to the player right from the get-go, meaning you no longer have to beat a 10+ hour campaign if you feel like messing about in the hub worlds for 100% completion or a bit of fun.
I’m a big fan of the way Tt Games gave players more freedom this time around, both with the customisation and aforementioned free roam mode, but it also feels like unlocking characters is less of a chore, with early story missions usually giving you 5 or so new characters to play with each time, all of whom feel genuinely different to each other.
Drop in co-op play is back once again, providing the perfect opportunity for parents to play with their kids, or for you and a pal to have a mess about with. Again, I really can’t emphasise enough just how fun and accessible DC Villains is, not just in gameplay, but even in teaching players about obscure DC properties and characters.
You can view a character’s fact file at any point during gameplay and learn a little bit about who they are, including which teams they’re affiliated with, their first comic appearance and even what powers they have. (Something that can be handy when it comes to solving extra puzzles in free play mode)
Ultimately, LEGO DC Super-Villains is a LEGO game. If you didn’t like the gameplay of any of the previous titles, I doubt this will be the one to change your mind. That being said, I couldn’t stop thinking how this has been my favourite LEGO game to date, thanks to its overwhelming sense of character and authenticity. Easily trumping the likes of LEGO Batman 3 and LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2.
It would seem that WB Games and Tt Games have been on somewhat of a role recently, now, once I mop up the platinum on here, I finally need to get back to The LEGO Incredibles (Another fun, stellar game).
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*