In all the many years I’ve been playing LEGO Games I’ve never once fully utilized the custom character maker. Back in early LEGO games it was nothing more than cycling through a random collection of head pieces, a few torsos, and some legs. Even with last year’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2’s major overhaul to the creator, I still kept my distance in favor of the large roster of iconic heroes. But after playing LEGO DC Super Villains, my mind has changed entirely.
Because in this game your custom creation is the main character of the story. A new villain summoned up to Stryker’s Island for a once over by Lex Luthor, your character slowly goes on a journey from minor background character, absorbing powers one by one, until you literally become the MacGuffin of the entire story.
And while many game’s have long been using a custom character in cutscenes and story modes, it’s a fresh take on the classic LEGO game formula. My young daughter, on the cusp of being a video game fan, hovered over me as I put together “Lizzy Lizard”, helping me make every creative choice. Later as she would pop in and out of watching me adventure through the game she’d delight in seeing her very own character palling around with Batman or The Joker.
From a gameplay perspective not much has changed from many of your previous LEGO game titles. Replay-ability is through the roof with dozens of collectibles to be found in every corner of the hub world, levels and buildings.
The Puzzles range from the basic ‘push a block here’ to more beautiful and complex things like ‘play this hidden sheet music with colorful piano keys’. The game has even taken some of the older familiar abilities we’ve seen before and given them new life, like Poison Ivy’s ability to manipulate plants into several different solutions instead of just one predetermined path.
The hub world itself isn’t too big, but it is absolutely packed to the brim with missions, races, and collectibles to find. With over 200 Gold Bricks in the game, there is plenty to go and do once you’ve completed the main story. A new twist to hub world challenges gives you a long list of clever clues to help you as you tirelessly scour each area searching for random hanging bats or statues that need defaced.
And finally, for the first time, the game actually rewards you with something really awesome for hitting the coveted 100% instead of a stud fountain that wont really do you much good.
The game’s main plot is pretty great, blending together many alternate versions of our favorite heroes and villains from Earth 3 like Power Ring, Mazahs & Sea King, while dropping in a variety of cosmic baddies like Granny Goodness & Stompa.
The one major complaint I have is not with the game’s story itself but with the marketing. I was mostly unaware of the existing “Life Equation” comic story line with Darkseid, and would never have seen it coming if it weren’t spoiled by his countless appearances in the promotional material (and box art). Just having the Justice Syndicate show up alone at the top of the game would have excited me for a bunch of twisted villain on villain battles, matching up The Joker vs. Batman’s stand in, Owlman or Sinestro battling against the other Earth’s lantern Power Ring… that alone would have had me excited. Then to later reveal Darkseid being behind the scenes manipulating it all would have been a great twist to the unsuspecting.
There is always something sort of heart warming and awesome about super hero stories that culminate in the heroes and villains working together to stop something horrible from happening. For once you don’t need to explore in Free Play in order to have Batman & The Joker fighting together, now it’s part of the story.
The all star cast easily makes this game go from great to AMAZING. Hearing the iconic voices of The Joker and Batman from my youth coming out of LEGO game characters was really something great.
Every distinct cackle of Mark Hamill’s Joker or frustrated grumble of Kevin Conroy’s Batman was a serious treat.
Micheal Ironside as Darkseid fills the air with menace and at times hilarity. Tara Strong’s Harley Quinn is delightfully quirky.
John Barrowman as Merlyn is a non stop treat, almost to the point where he steals the show.
There is something here for everyone with LEGO DC Super Villains. Perfect for the kid who wants to sit around and dress up their toys in new outfits, perfect for the kid who wants to go smash and grab through the levels destroying everything, perfect for the parent to play along side and actually enjoy a cohesive story, perfect for the relatives who want to gift someone a holiday present they know is safe and family friendly… This is easily one of my favorite LEGO games that has been released.
I know I keep saying with each LEGO game released that it’s my new favorite game, and perhaps thats because the team behind these creations is so good at refining and improving upon a very standard formula. At their core, LEGO games are safe family fun, sure there is a lot of predictable gameplay but that is a good thing. These games are the gateway drug to being a life long fan of games. They instill in kids a sense of accomplishment because the level designs, puzzles and battles might be tricky but they are so well presented that even the most novice gamer can navigate it.
And for the more advance gamer, playing a LEGO game becomes an exercise in being a completist. Going through and 100% the game you’ll soon realize that challenges outside the main story can become.. well… challenging. And thats a good thing.
(Plus, I’ve never in all my life been more excited for a DLC than I am for the Batman The Animated Series Level Pack. Mark Hamill & Kevin Conroy’s LEGO performance is just that good.)
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