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LEGO DC Super-Villains – Review
We're bad! A bit edgy! But also family friendly!
Oh, it’s another Lego game. It’s an annual tradition now to see one Lego game being a tie-in to a movie (this year was The Incredibles) and the other a standalone game. Last year was another Marvel Superheroes, so this year, Travellers Tales are tackling the DC universe.
Despite the focus on bad guys, LEGO DC Super-Villains is still as lighthearted as the previous Lego games and is reverent to its source material as well. There’s some love being poured for sure, but the established formula for these games has getting too bloated.
The main menu of LEGO DC Super-Villains has the song Joker And The Thief by Australian hard rock band Wolfmother. Frickin’ Wolfmother. The song encapsulates the tone of the game so well. The song’s sonic would fit in a head-banging heavy metal album but is all fine and granulated, easy for the mainstream audience to rock along.
In other words: We’re bad! A bit edgy! But also family friendly!
Aside from that, there’s a lot of labour of love being seen in the presentation. Most Lego games allows you to control many different characters, each with their own mix of abilities. For this game, many of the characters have custom animations fit for them. The Joker uses a mix of prank toys to attack enemies including an extending boxing glove in a box for ground pounds. Harley Quinn has a big hammer- with a “POW!” sticker on the mallet- but her ground pound has her call a missile, hopping on it and drive it to the ground.
There’s tons of these elaborate animations. Controls can be a bit clunky as a result but they sure look good.
The minifigs look all detailed as you expect, you can spot the Lego logos on them in some places. Voice acting is of good quality, with big-name voice actors doing the lines. Mark Hamill as The Joker and Tara Strong as Harley Quinn are such examples.
Considering this is a family game, there’s plenty of dad jokes and puns. Those level names, good god.
There’s no frame drops in general, the game runs fine around the 30fps mark. The audio fade in is a bit off however. Sections of the open world use different loops of music but the way the music transitions could have been made a bit better. Music during the levels section also will abruptly lower its volume for no good reason.
In LEGO DC Super-Villains, the star of the show is the rouge gallery of DC villains, and that includes your own original character. While Lego games already have the feature to create your own minifig character, this time that character is a main part of the story.
Now you get to make the most elaborate or silliest minifig you can imagine, using the vast amount of customisation options, and have it A: matter and B: appear in the game’s cut-scenes, the silent protagonist that plays a part in the main plot.
The story is that the Justice League has been mysteriously disappeared and now replaced the Justice Syndicate, Earth-3’s equivalent. The villains feel that they might be evil. So the villains band together to fight the true villains so they can be the real bad guys?
They’ve given the bad guys even badder guys to fight against so it’s not really a game about being evil.
If you played a Lego game in recent time, you know the drill. Two or more characters will be playable and swapable to progress through the levels. There’s drop-in drop-out co-op up to two players. You will have to use the right characters’ abilities and face off some enemies to progress, with some light puzzles sprinkled in.
Outside of the scripted missions is an open world to explore. Metropolis, Gotham City, the small town of Smallvile, the dark corners where Arkham Asylum reside and a hidden jungle where the villains converge at the Hall Of Doom are filled with collectibles and side quests.
You can play as any character in the open world and free to spend as long or as little time as you like before proceeding to the next story bit.
It’s all fun looking at the many different unique moves each character has but I have an issue. There’s so many abilities lumped to the same four face buttons and a few contextual moves that controls are now a little bit hit-and-miss. You need to be precisely be at the spot for contextual prompt to appear, like building a Lego build, or instead you will trigger your abilities.
What is annoying is when it happens the other way around. I want to use an ability but then an enemy appears close, the contextual button prompt appears and I did something I did not want.
Then there’s the case of remembering all the buttons do what and what characters have what abilities. There’s a lot of guess work during my playthrough, probably because I am not too familiar with the Lego games as I initially expected and also because the hints system does not provide enough useful hints. I did not notice glass Lego pieces and sliver Lego pieces are different, they look too similar.
I like complexity in games. But this feels more needlessly convoluted rather than complex.
Content And Longevity
Despite the so-so gameplay, LEGO DC Super-Villains is worth the RM240 price tag content-wise. It’s much more substantial than any of the movie tie-in Lego games, with more levels, bigger open world and more side quests to do. But do aware that a lot of the levels feel padded and samey, in the way that it is laid out. There’s too many levels that can broken down as two different environments, explore the room and solve puzzles and end scene. Maybe some boss fights but only a few are really interesting.
But hey, it is 10-20 hours worth of content. The gameplay is a bit let down as we mentioned, but if you have no qualms with what is said then it will be some time investment to complete the game 100%.
Plus, the writing is fun, like the many side quests you can encounter. There is one for an obscure DC character that wants to inflate its social media presence to appear hip with the kids (and is totally in line with established lore). Another is about Ares, the God Of War, trying to figure out a new way of waging conflict among millennials. He can be heard saying “War, war always changes.”
Someone cared enough to do these jokes.
LEGO DC Super-Villains continues the same Lego game formula the developers have refined for years. But it feels like it is at its last legs. The presentation is solid and the IP is treated with respect and care. There’s a lot of effort on keeping both kids and possible moms and dads playing the game entertained with the writing and story.
However, the gameplay feels more bloated than before. The levels are not as interesting or original as you would expect a Lego game free from obligations to follow a set story from other properties. Enough time has passed, and games released, that Travellers Tales should consider rejigging the formula, now overcrowded with too many one-off abilities.
Despite that, LEGO DC Super-Villains is not so bad after all.
Review was done on the regular PS4. Review copy provided by the publisher.