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Review: LEGO DC Super-Villains (Xbox One)By Sandy Wilson At 26.04.2019 11:34

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Gotham is in trouble… and there is no Batman or Supergirl to help it out this time. In a world where the Justice League has gone missing, and a new wave of suspicious superheroes take over, the villains of Gotham band together to "save the day." This is the main plot in a story that both takes itself seriously, but also revels in its own stupidity, with some great character moments, and a surprising amount of fun and engaging dialogue. In this title, you get to design your own DC villain, using a plethora of Lego pieces, and a library of powers that begins restricted, but grows exponentially as the game progresses. The created character has just enough personality for a voiceless protagonist, allowing the player to enjoy the idea that the character could be them.

Now, having steered clear of much of the Lego games recently, it was surprising to find that on a whole this title, while following the traditional Lego formula, was quite refreshing with some pretty 'out there' puzzles and moments that actually required a little skill and not just "the right character." What is the traditional Lego formula? Well, it's a 3D platformer-slash-collect 'em up game. This has been the standard affair since Lego Star Wars, and hasn't changed fundamentally. What does appear to be new in this game is the level design.

So it may be done by the same developing team, but it seems to have wrapped genuinely fun puzzles into the game, like in how, for example, on the second level, the player must navigate the Joker base, and almost every interaction leads towards the solution to the puzzle, but everything has its place and must be done in the right order to unlock the door and go, round-up other universe villains. Of course, this game still has a multitude of purchase-able extras like characters, powers etc… and unlocking everything will take a very, very long time. These unlockables are still bought with studs and like the other games, there are bonuses like gold bricks, red bricks and even mini models, though during the review gameplay I found none of these...

It's by far the most visually interesting title in the franchise so far with massive varieties of terrain, extremely colourful and detailed environments. Smart level designs that mix the Lego and realistic elements with a degree of style it's all scarily coherent. It's also wonderful to see so many classic DC characters, both good and bad, don their comic book outfits giving them a whole load of character and nostalgia, while also being chock full of smooth and bouncy animations. A particular highlight is how smoothly this can transition characters from normal Lego shaped people into monsters and giants, the character models are akin fluid when doing these changes (though not in every scenario) it was all thoroughly impressive.

Another highlight is the sound design, as all the weapons, explosions and powers are very punchy, except for when they need to be comedic. The music and voices are a mixed bag, but never bad, Harley has her typical deranged grating voice, while Joker sports his usual clown-like tone with plenty of menace. Genuinely surprising is the voice work, and the script is of a really high quality! It's fun to sit through the story cut-scenes and listen to the in-game dialogue, which doesn't get fatiguing like it might if these were poor quality movie clip voices. All of these sound effects are complemented by a soundtrack that not only has the typical highs of superhero universe music, but also some really nice and funky lowdown beats to punctuate the more serious or comedic moments.

While the gameplay is similar to the other Lego games, the combat seems to have received a quantifiable amount of love as it's now more complex and focuses less on simply mashing buttons (except in the odd battle against lowly goons). The character boss battles are great fun, and while it wraps the occasional puzzle to do damage a lot of the fighting of these bosses relies on dodging, and timing your strikes or finding one weakness and making use of that. There is just enough strategy and cinematic air to these fights that it's hard not to be as engrossed and excited and concentrated as the likes of the PS4 Spider-Man - though the combat is notably less complex than that title.

Unlike many other Lego titles, this doesn't seem to suffer from many bugs, as during the play-through for this review there were no obvious issues, and definitely no game-breaking ones, like the one this critic suffered in the hands of Lego Jurassic World, where the main character was built into some stairs during multiplayer making it impossible to continue. Even the open levels and exploration seemed to be pretty watertight which is very impressive and makes the world a lot more immersive.

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Final Score
A very solid and fun Lego game that tries to undo some of the more tired series trends by offering up a more interesting and varied style of humour, deeper puzzles and fighting mechanics but most importantly being less buggy. It's really a great title, and though some fans may find the gameplay still a bit stale, anyone who gives it a shot should find plenty of fun to be had and lots of value for money.



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