With three outings to the DC universe already, the LEGO video game franchise is very much acquainted with Gotham and Metropolis, along with the characters that inhabit these beloved cities. LEGO Batman 1-3 has explored a vast array of the comic book world, showing it from different angles each time. However, as every gamer should know, fatigue can set in if a franchise implements the same ideas over and over. This is where LEGO DC Super-Villains comes in. It's meant to turn the brand on its head, but for the most part it feels like any other LEGO title, albeit with some fun new twists.
Whereas prior DC LEGO games focused on the caped crusader and his fellow Justice League, DC Super-Villains naturally follows the bad guys. With the Justice League suddenly vanishing it's up to The Joker, Harley Quinn, Lex Luthor and the rest of the gang to put a stop to the so-called "Justice Syndicate" of Earth-3 so that order can be restored. It is essentially one evil fighting another, with the familiar villains acting as the overall "good guys" of the game. It's an interesting take on the universe, and the original story is certainly one of the game's strengths, providing an angle on well-known characters that is not usually seen.
To coincide with this tale of bad versus worse, you begin your journey by creating your very own super-villain character who ends up earning a spot in the story. From the weapon they wield to the way their hands glow, your voiceless, yet powerful villain is completely yours to customise, while also gaining more and more powers as you progress through story levels. It's a nice touch that brings some extra creativity to the game. Nonetheless it's still enjoyable to watch Lex Luthor cowering before the might of a random custom character you made in a cutscene.
Don't let the fancy costumes fool you.
As one may expect after this many entries in the franchise, the core gameplay of LEGO DC Super-Villains remains mostly unchanged from its predecessors. Story levels consist of fighting various enemies, progressing through simple puzzles and environmental hazards and smashing up every last object you can find for those coveted LEGO studs. As time has passed, though, the focus has very much shifted from playing through a multitude of levels and with a minuscule hub thrown in, to basically the opposite. Character quests, gold brick collecting, races and bonus levels have become staples in recent LEGO titles, allowing you to explore larger open world environments for hours on end as you increase that completion percentage.
This time around, it seems that the LEGO DC Super-Villains has taken a page out of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2's book, as the overall hub world is made up of miniature hubs of famous DC locales to form a large map. The game is essentially the DC equivalent of the aforementioned game, and gameplay is, by and large, identical as well. However, the collecting and questing doesn't feel quite as extensive, so you aren't overwhelmed whenever you are roaming the world. Despite this, you may still find exploring the map to be a little troublesome due to the way in which the map and mini-map are implemented. Navigation isn't as clear-cut as it should be, as the mini-map acts more as a proximity radar to items instead of an actual map. This means that you will regularly find yourself switching to the main map to check if you are actually going the right way to certain items, only to find out you've ended up on the other side of the hub instead. It feels counterintuitive, considering how much stuff fills the map.
Those who have sampled other superhero-based LEGO titles will no doubt have a bit of a qualm with the flying controls of characters. They have a tendency to be incredibly awkward, causing characters to do things that you definitely don't want them to do, and sadly, that issue remains here. The right stick is extremely useful when flying, but the camera also happens to be controlled by the right stick. This means that exploration can often come quite literally to a standstill due to your character dropping to the ground for some unknown reason or shooting off in the wrong direction.
Wonder Woman may not have wonderful flying skills this time around...
One welcome improvement in LEGO DC Super-Villains is the absence of many bugs. The game appears to run smoothly, without any game breaking hiccups, apart from the small nuisances already mentioned. It's a slight shame that bugs not being present has to be mentioned as a valid positive, but the LEGO series is notorious for how temperamental each game can be. If it isn't bugs getting in the way, though, it will be the barrage of hints and tips thrust upon you. Despite having an apparent difficulty that lowers the amount of hints given to you, there is an excessive amount of hand-holding in this game. After using a certain ability for the twentieth time, a hint still smacks you in the face to explain how to use it. LEGO games aren't particularly difficult, but the target audience for the titles has clearly influenced the need to explain everything to you multiple times.
The achievements of LEGO DC Super-Villains are also victim to that familiarity that is constantly littered throughout the game. 45 achievements make up the full list, with story progression, unlockables and random, yet easy challenges being the main focus. Anyone who has played a LEGO game will know that they are not difficult to complete. It simply comes down to whether you are dedicated enough to reach 100% completion and collect absolutely everything. If you do, then the 1,000G will definitely be yours.
SummaryLEGO DC Super-Villains is an enjoyable game, executing the LEGO formula almost perfectly after years of evolving it. With that said, the game seems to suffer from an identity crisis due to never actually introducing anything of its own that's worthwhile. The story is an enjoyable one, and having your own custom character play a part in that story is a fun novelty for a while, but everything feels very familiar if you are well acquainted with LEGO titles already. The hub has plenty to do and collect within it, providing hours of entertaining playtime. However, the sometimes awkward flying controls and clunky map can occasionally hinder that enjoyment. Familiarity and irritating mechanics aside, this is another LEGO game that can still be enjoyed by many. It just may be time for TT Games to spread their wings a little further with their next bricktastic adventure.
- Story helps to shine a different light on the world of DC and its characters
- Hub feels suitably large without being too overwhelming
- The infamous LEGO bugs are surprisingly absent
- Both map and mini map are counter-intuitive when engaging in exploration
- Flying controls still remain troublesome
- Lack of new gameplay ideas and mechanics cause the game to feel even more familiar than usual
EthicsThe reviewer spent 10.5 hours, flying, gliding, racing and smashing his way through Gotham and Metropolis, while earning 18 of the game's 45 achievements. A physical copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.
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