Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a super sized mosh pit of heroes and villains that is just oozing personality. Unlike previous Lego Marvel games, Super Heroes 2 does not limit itself to staying within the margins of the Marvel cinematic universe. Instead, players are introduced to an alternative reality where the primary antagonist, Kang the Conqueror, has pulled together a healthy variety of cities from various Marvel worlds, timelines, and realities to create the city of Chronopolis which he controls with an iron fist. This results in the super heroes being pooled together in Chronopolis, where they can hopefully stop Kang from taking over the entire universe.
The bending of space and time to create one cohesive world allows for a game environment where players can group up characters such as Thor and the Black Panther with Captain Marvel and the Guardians of the Galaxy in order to travel from ancient Egypt all the way to the planet Knowhere. There are some notable absences from the character roster, however. Namely, the lack of X-Men and Fantastic Four, both of whom were available in the game’s predecessor from 2013. To make up for this, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 features the exclusive character, Carnom – a mashup between Carnage and Venom – as well as other miscellaneous characters like Iron Duck – Howard the Duck in Iron Man armor. There’s even a Stan Lee lego hidden in every mission.
If the impressive roster of Marvel heroes still leaves you lacking, you can create their own custom superhero to fill the void. Custom character creation allows players to choose every detail of their hero from hair color and costume down to special abilities and weapons. Custom characters can not be used in the game’s main story line, unfortunately. Playing through each mission for the first time locks the player down to a certain group of super heroes with a specific set of abilities that are necessary for the story. There are additional puzzles and collectibles in these story missions that require using characters outside of the designated group. Thankfully, once you play through the mission and complete it for the first time players unlock Free Play mode, where characters can be swapped in and out on the fly in order to access these bonuses. Free play mode also allows for open exploration of the city of Chronopolis where players can fight crime, collect lego coins, and play mini games to unlock bonus characters.
The main story missions for Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 allows for drop in/drop out co op play, and attempting to take the story on single handled makes it glaringly obvious that the game is meant to be played by two. Each mission puts together a group of 2-6 heroes. Any characters not controlled by a human player are taken over by the AI. For most of the game, the AI will stand around aimlessly while the player (or players) run back and forth frantically trying to fulfill the requirements of any puzzles standing between the heroes and progression. Players can jump between available characters on the fly by pressing left and right trigger to move through the group, positioning characters in where a puzzle may require, but once the AI takes back over there is no guarantee that the character will remain in its necessary position. The lack of functional AI can be a pain, but the pain can be eased if you’ve got a friend (or sibling) to play along with.
Despite being a sequel, and one in a long line of Lego titles, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2’s game play does have its issues. Some of the most notable were during the Rune to Maneuver mission. As Doctor Strange, players are tasked with finding hidden runes. This sometimes requires a little time manipulation to rearrange the rooms, which occasionally left our characters stuck in odd areas of the map that they were unable to be removed from because objects could only be manipulated if you were standing facing them a certain way.
This same mission’s boss battle against Mordo required crashing and restarting the game four separate times. Enemies can become temporarily invincible, which is marked by a lock icon over their health bar. Mordo had a series of attacks where he would become invincible and spawn clones, but during our game these clones wouldn’t actually spawn in – leaving Mordo invulnerable and I (along with whichever daughter was tackling co-op with me at the time) unable to progress. As there are no mid-mission save points, we were forced to restart the mission all over again. This also set us up to get stuck during the previous rune collecting part of the mission.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2’s city of Chronopolis is one of the largest game environments to be made available in a Lego Marvel title, with the major city being sectioned off into 18 different districts. There’s no shortage of adventures to be had with such an expansive playground and cast of characters. A lot of time can be spent simply seeking out what the streets of Chronopolis have to offer and just soaking up the humorous dialogue chocked full of puns from the NPCs. That same punstravaganza, however, can become a bit repetitive during longer play throughs, as NPCs will repeat themselves quite often. In some more NPC heavy areas, several will speak at the same time, making it difficult to tell the difference between instructions for a mini game and irrelevant chatter. This is magnified in co-op mode, as players are not limited to staying within close range of each other. While its nice that (in my case) siblings playing free roam together weren’t locked into the same tasks and could explore at their own paces, the mish-mash of NPC chatter did become a bit maddening.
Despite its occasional flaws and hang ups, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 was an enjoyable experience for players of all ages. Even with limited knowledge of the Marvel universe we found a lot of joy in uncovering new characters and their variations and then exploring the vast world of Chronopolis with them while fighting crime and racing around the city. Revisiting missions with those new characters opened up the world even further.