The next entry in the long-running franchise of LEGO videogames has been released for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. We tested it on a Playstation 4 Pro for the purpose of this review.
After a couple of hands on sessions with the game over the summer, I was really looking forward to playing the full LEGO DC Super-Villains campaign, and it doesn’t disappoint. Even though large chunks of the game will be all too familiar to LEGO game veterans, there are subtle improvements to the formula as well as a great audiovisual delivery thanks to the personalities of DC’s villains – both the known and obscure ones.
LEGO DC Super-Villains quickly does away with the familiar (Justice League) cast of superheroes by transporting them to another dimension, allowing for a clear focus on the bad guys we all know and love. The Joker and Lex Luthor are not facing off against Superman and Batman here, but rather against a gang of imposters who take over for the Justice League but really have ulterior motives. So, in a strange “Hey, we’re the bad guys around here!” way, you’re actually playing the good guys and going up against the guys who took over from the Justice League. Make sense? It’s a fun setup that allows for a ton of jokes, and the absence of familiar good guys helps in setting and keeping the right tone.
What’s also fun is that you can create your own villain – and you’re not just restricted to using him (or her) in free play mode. You can actually take your little character along for the ride in the campaign mode, which is a great way for your own little look-a-like to engage with the main cast. As the campaign progresses you can also upgrade your character, so you essentially go from villain to super-villain over the course of the story.
I’ve also really been enjoying the new character switch mechanic in LEGO DC Super-Villains. If you’ve ever played a LEGO game before then you’re no doubt aware of situations where you need a certain character to destroy something, complete a (part of a) puzzle or some other character-specific feat. If that character wasn’t selected, you’d have to manually find him – or even swap them into your currently active roster. In Super-Villains, you can do a quick switch that instantly switches control over to the right character for the job, which is so convenient that it’ll probably make older LEGO games feel a tad more frustrating now.
It’s hard to get stuck in the campaign, as there’s a fair bit of handholding through visual hints whenever you get stuck, which makes for good family-friendly level design in a game that can easily be played with a younger audience despite the “bad guy” angle that it takes. Causing destruction does tend to alarm the cops though, which is a little funny since the good guys always tend to get away with it when they do it.
I have to give a special mention to the audiovisual presentation in Traveller’s Tales latest as well. It builds on the engine improvements first introduced with The Force Awakens so visually you’re not looking at a giant leap forward, but the character design and facial expressions on the game’s villains are great. What helps is also that the characters have been expertly voiced, with talent like Brandon Routh (no, not playing Superman), Mark Hamill, Michael Ironside and Gilbert Gottfried all lending their voices to the project.
The phrase “it doesn’t reinvent the genre” more or less applies to every LEGO game, but DC Super-Villains certainly is one of the most fun entries I’ve played in a while. Taking a self-made character on the main adventure is a great touch, and other subtle improvements also make the experience more pleasant than previous ones. Combine that with a great cast of villains and this is one that LEGO fans should definitely pick up.