LEGO DC Super Villains – Xbox One Review
A wretched hive of scum and villainy?
Let’s start with the conclusion shall we? Lego DC Super Villains is the best Lego game of this generation. Furthermore, it’s a fine game in its own right. It’s so good, it shouldn’t be judged solely as a ‘Lego’ title, but as a rip-roaring, action packed adventure game with an abundance of quality and content.
Despite this, most reviews will put Super Villains in a box (a Lego box no less). I’ve seen it put down for its simplicity (unfair), slated for repetition (also unfair) and damned with faint praise for how it looks (fairer, but still a strange critique). Yet these reviews are still overwhelmingly positive. The rub is that very few are judging Villains on its’ own merits, and instead grading on a Lego shaped curve.
Based on its own merits, this is everything we could ask for in a video game. The plethora of unlockable content and the continuous stream of new characters provide a level or replayability and value which few titles can match. The joy of returning to a previously cleared area only to use the abilities of a new character to unlock and solve more puzzles can’t be underestimated. This investment in level design, and the confident innovation shown by developer TT Games are to be applauded.
Some puzzles are straightforward, yes. Some aren’t – I had a few head scratching moments (there is a hint system) which were swiftly followed by a mental self-pat on the back as I put the pieces together (no pun intended). Graphically, it lacks the cinematic grandeur of some AAA titles, but that’s not to say it doesn’t look great. Colour, shading, lighting and characters all stand out beautifully and are entirely in keeping with the world of Lego.
As far as plot goes, it’s vintage comic book and loosely based on 2013s DC run ‘Forever Evil’. Obvious comparisons with Suicide Squad abound as you find Joker, Lex Luthor and the rest of the DC bad guys thrust into the unlikely role of best of a bad bunch. After Harley Quinn witnesses a team of alternate heroes from Earth 3 dispatch the Justice League, your team of ostensible baddies have no choice but to combat the fake heroes and try and restore the natural order. I’ll avoid spoilers here, but despite sagging a little in the middle, the plot is actually pretty good and builds to a satisfying, very DCesque conclusion. Gags, both visual and spoken are peppered throughout and brought to life superbly by a voice cast which include heavyweights such as Mark Hammill (surely the best Joker?) and Michael Ironside who reprises his role as Darkseid.
You’ll play as a Rookie villain of your own design (a first for the series), but retain the ability to play as all of the unlockable characters in the game. All of your favourites are there, but the game is peppered with some obscure faces from the DC Universe too. A combination of story driven and open world areas provide a wonderful backdrop and playground for the enormous cast to get up to mischief, and exploring the world on foot or in flight is a treat. Less so, it must be said, in vehicles, which are clunky and annoying to use, but there are only a handful of occasions when the game demands you use a vehicle to progress the story (thankfully).
Combat has developed nicely in the series, and is now part of the challenge rather than the afterthought of previous titles. You still can’t die, instead respawning immediately Lego style with the loss of some blocks, but you’ll need to get out of second gear during fight sequences – button mashing alone won’t be enough to succeed.
The character creator aside, there’s very little here that you haven’t seen in a Lego title previously. This is a tried and tested formula which has been refined over the last few years and is now at the peak of its powers. Enter areas, solve puzzles, unlock new areas, return to areas with new characters and unlock more areas. That’s a pretty reductive and simplified description, but this is the crux of the Lego game. The real genius is in the writing and level design, both of which are exemplary.
There are around twenty linear missions to complete, and a pretty big world to explore in free-roam. By design, it’s impossible to collect and see everything in one playthrough. This isn’t a game which encourages repeat play, it demands it. Expect to sink around 20-30 hours in if you want to see everything and earn every achievement.
Some will say that if you don’t like Lego games, this one won’t convert you. Nonsense. Judge this game on its own merits and it offers a stellar voice cast, ingenious level design, enjoyable gameplay and a wealth of variety. If you’ve enjoyed Lego titles in the past, you’ll enjoy this one. If you haven’t enjoyed them, this is an ideal point to jump on board.