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LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2
Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is another round of LEGO-based adventures, and this time, building on the Marvel world and characters that came out 2013. This game not only introduces a larger number of heroes and villains to play as, but the world that needs to be explored becomes a lot more complicated.

As always, Traveller's Tales does a fantastic job of building a world around LEGOs. Between minifigs that look like the toys you can buy in stores, and the settings that they run around in, Marvel Super Heroes 2 looks like something that a collector might just be able to build on their own. Granted, some of the moves that the minifigs can pull off are far outside of what the physical toys can do, but when you have heroes like the super-stretchy Ms. Marvel (the Kamala Khan version), some liberties need to be taken.

Audio-wise, the game's characters' have appropriate sounding voices, and while none are trying to impersonate the silver-screen version of those characters, many are close and convey the same attitude and style that those characters have shown in the MCU. Mind you, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 doesn't try to conform to the MCU in any real way, outside of heavily using characters that have become more popular because of those films, so again, liberties taken in this department are just as reasonable as the ones that allow Ms. Marvel's body parts to become so unLEGOlike.

The game's background music also feels right as action sequences are put to high tempo music, while exploring the city often has a more majestic and slower feel. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 also takes advantage of the fact that the Guardians of the Galaxy have become popular since the first game and, when appropriate, uses classic 70's and 80's songs while Star Lord is present, though these are in specific cases and not just a part of the general background music.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is spread across a massive open world that acts as your hub between the 20 or so levels across which the game's story unfolds. Like the previous Marvel Super Heroes game, and many other LEGO titles, this hub world is also a place where you can take on many side missions.

In the aftermath of the heroes' defense against Loki, Doctor Doom and Galactus, during the events of the first game, the Earth faces a new threat in the time traveler named Kang the Conqueror. It seems his desire to own a little piece of everything includes picking up New York City and importing it into his own city that exists outside of time and space, Chronopolis.

In this strange mish-mash of a city, Manhattan will be joined with ancient Egypt; the Old West; Medieval England; the Kree homeworld of Hala; the Nova Empire capital world of Xander; Sakaar, complete with massive coliseum; the underwater city of Lemuria; an Asgaard on the verge of Ragnarok; Wakanda; K'un-Lun; a city from a world where Hydra rules and two other versions of New York, one from the 2099 era and one from the Noir series. After the first few levels have been completed, all of these areas will open up in a fairly large open world environment, and a couple more places will also make themselves available before the story finishes making the explorable area even larger.

While you can quickly move from mission to mission in order to rush through the game's story, the open world provides many other side quests and distractions that will often keep you from making those straight-line shots as fast as possible. Scattered across Chronopolis are races, people that have side quests, puzzles waiting for you to solve, and citizens that are in trouble. This last item comes in several varieties, from gangs of henchmen harassing someone, to people trapped in tough situations, and even various locations where a minifig of Stan Lee needs your help to get free. Your reward for completing these various tasks is typically either a new character to play as or a gold brick, both of which get you one step closer to 100 percenting the game.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 seems to be set just right to provide a fun challenge that isn't a cake-walk, but isn't too difficult for players of all ages to enjoy. The levels themselves tend to be straight-forward and, with the exception of a couple of hiccups, you are guided through the level so that you know how to get past whatever obstacle is currently in your way. This guidance often comes in the form of comments from the characters as their dialogue with each other will often tell you who or what is needed in order to progress. The only times I was at any kind of loss were the few occasions when the game glitched on me. In one early level, Attuma would grab hold of one character and you needed the other in order to attack the villain to continue the fight. Unfortunately, during the second round of this action, I couldn't find Attuma or my other character and I couldn't switch to him. In another buggy part, an action was supposed to cause a bunch of crates containing necessary LEGO parts to fall down, but that didn't happen. There are a couple of other similar issues, and in all cases, quitting the game and going back into it cleared up the issue, but each time this happened, I became more wary and was waiting for yet another shoe to drop.

Game Mechanics:
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 continues to use the well-established mechanics that have been a constant in Traveller's Tales' LEGO games. The wide variety of characters provides an assortment of abilities for the developers to play around with, and the result is a collection of puzzle types strewn across the game's levels that feel right. As always, when playing in Story Mode, the characters you are given have the skill set necessary to complete that first playthrough. Some of these obstacles might require Dr. Strange's magic, or Star Lord's gravity bombs, or maybe it's She-Hulk's immunity to radiation. Captain America's shield might be necessary for a switch or Iron Man's rockets might have to destroy some silver bricks. You will have the characters you need in order to get through the level, but you won't necessarily have everything you need in order to get everything that level offers. There is always some area you can't reach because of a skill you don't have in order to get one of the level's many types of collectibles. This is where the Free Play Mode of each level comes in.

Once the level is beaten the first time, you can re-enter the level with access to any of the characters you've unlocked already. With that toolset in-hand, the previously-unreachable collectibles can be obtained during the second playthrough, though you might have to wait until you are almost done with the story in order to unlock enough of the skill types in order to have someone you can use for some of the puzzles.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is immensely enjoyable and a solid follow up to the first game. The fact that it is both inspired by the MCU, but doesn't stick to the same storyline, means that players who are only familiar with the movies or TV shows will know most of the characters they are playing as, but won't be rehashing the same events like many movie tie-in games. If you enjoyed the first title, or the LEGO games in general, then Marvel Super Heroes 2 won't disappoint.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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