One of the weirdest things about an era that brought us stuff like Arkham City is that some of the most fun superhero games you can find are really just big weird adventures starring a bunch of building blocks. And yet, here we are, with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes on the horizon, promising to take players on a journey across the Marvel Universe with a huge cast of characters that will see as much destruction and rebuilding as your mind can possibly handle.

I was already pretty interested in LEGO Marvel -- LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes was one of my favorite games of the past few years -- but trying out the demo at San Diego confirmed my hopes that it would be just as fun as its predecessor. Like Batman, the game includes a ton of characters with different outfits and mission-specific powers, set set to revolve around a central hub, which is of course a Marvel version of New York.  The actual missions, however, take players to all sorts of other exotic locations. When I did the demo, cutting in front of a line of children and teaching them some pretty harsh lessons about the power of the Fourth Estate, I ended up playing through a level based on Asgard, trying out all the different characters that they had to offer.




More than anything else, what struck me is that it looks great. You get so used to seeing those blocky bodies in these games that when the Human Torch bursts into flames and looks like a minifigure that's actually made of fire, it's pretty impressive. They work a lot of detail into those characters, too, which is nice when you're trying to decide between six or seven different suits of Iron Man armor. The powers are pretty nicely done, too, with Hulk and Bruce Banner being able to turn into each other, Thor calling down lightning and, in one of my favorite things that I saw last weekend, Mr. Fantastic using his powers to turn his body into a little teapot.

Pretty excited about the puzzle that one's gonna solve, you guys.

If you've played a LEGO game before, you're probably familiar with the kind of puzzles that you run into and the sort of humor that permeates these games, and it's all back in full force. There was a great little hidden puzzle about the Infinity Gauntlet, for instance, but the best thing was how much of the game involved Damage Control. It fits pretty well to have Marvel's masters of (re)construction showing up in a LEGO game to putter around the background putting all the recently smashed creations back together, but it's a great touch.

The developer I spoke to, who had also worked on LEGO Batman and the Harry Potter games, mentioned a scene later in the game where Magneto brought the Statue of Liberty to life, Ghostbusters 2 style. "Americans," he said, "are pretty sensitive about the Statue of Liberty, so later we made sure to show Damage Control rebuilding it in the background." It's that kind of thoughtfulness that makes me excited about one of these games.

And, you know, there's also a playable Stan Lee.



So it's got that going for it.

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