HULK SMASH, then Iron Man builds the smashed bricks into something new!
At a hotel near GDC, TT Games was showing an early level from their new game, Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Producer Phillip Ring wanted to be clear that this was not "Lego The Avengers" but was an all-new story, which will feature over one-hundred Marvel characters and ,according to the fact sheet handed out at the presentation, the ability to create your own custom Lego Marvel Super Hero.
Plotwise, it's a brand new story in which the Silver Surfer has been shot down and his surfboard has smashed into “cosmic bricks” that both villains and heroes are trying to collect. This allows TT Games to showcase Marvel's New York City, with Marvel-specific locations and set pieces. Additionally, the resources provided to me mentioned other locations, like Asteroid M, Asgard, and the X-Mansion, as being playable throughout the game.
In the first level of the game, set in Grand Central Station, Hulk and Iron Man take on Abomination and Sandman, and it's clear that the Lego games have come a long way since the earliest titles in the series. The cleverness of the series dynamic is at play here, taking advantage of brick-specific tropes. Characters have special abilities that must be used to navigate the level with unlockable areas for other characters later to be added to your gallery.
Iron Man, for instance, can fly and fire missiles, and his ability-specific targets are covered in sparkling shiny chrome. The Hulk, on the hand, can smash and do certain attacks from The Incredible Hulk movie. However, he's not limited to being The Hulk and can transform back to Bruce Banner when necessary. The transformation has the Lego game series trademark humor, with his head popping back to normal size first, then his arms, legs, and torso, in a cute, cartoony procedural animation.
But there are also changes to the series: Hulk is larger than the average Lego figure (Ring calls the standard figures “mini-figures”). As a larger figure, Hulk is a tank who can throw large objects, like cars, and pull chunks of Lego directly from the ground. His function is either throwing or smashing throw larger objects. His early mini-boss fight with the similarly sized Abomination is suitably goofy.
The Iron Man and Hulk figures are clearly based on The Avengers film. However, When Spiderman swings in, he's much more aligned with the Marvel comic. When I asked producer Ring about this, he told me that the design was based not on the film versions of the characters, but the existing Lego designs for the Marvel characters (except for special outfits you can get that are more in line with their comic versions). This gives them the latitude to use movie-specific designs for film tie-ins Lego has access to and comic book designs for other characters.
The Final Battle with Sandman requires using the talents of all three superheroes, using one's special ability after another. After this, Lego Nick Fury arrives in his faux-Lego Samuel L. Jackson glory—though it's clear they haven't been able to retain the vocal talents of the movie casts, it doesn't detract from the experience—to direct you to your next objective.
With the expansive cast of almost all the Marvel landscape to play with (the poster had Lego Deadpool, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, and Wolverine) and a brand new story, Lego Marvel Super Heroes isn't tethered by the usual constraints that are in place for many of the regular licensed Lego games. It shows an impressive sense of scope that feels much larger in scale than previous games.
It's clear that Ring is intensely enthusiastic about the game. He waxes about inside jokes that Marvel fans will love built into the background and about features that add extra detail to the world; for instance, when Hulk tries to pry up ground from Sandman's area, it dissolves into sand as soon as he gets it over his head. Perhaps it's my teenage Marvel fandom coming back with a vengeance, but it's both the most exciting Marvel and Lego game that I've seen from either property in a while and one I'm sincerely looking forward to seeing as it gets closer to being finished in the Fall for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U, 3DS, DS, and Vita.