There comes the point when you’ve played so many Lego games they start to blend together. One can’t remember specific features or differences, just an endless stream of breaking things and collecting studs. Whether or not you enjoy a Lego game depends on how much you like this repetitive concept, as well as the core property of the specific game.
If you haven’t been a fan of the past games, then Lego DC Super-Villains won’t magically change your mind. However, if instead they bring a smile to your face and calm to your addled nerves, you’ll find the most successful and enjoyable series entry in several years.
Lego DC Super-Villains features an original story, which gave TT Games the chance to let loose—and they don’t disappoint. The trouble starts when the Justice League gets banished to another dimension, and the Justice Syndicate steps in to take their place. These Earth-3 “heroes” aren’t what they seem though. Why are they here, who are they working for, and what on Earth-3 makes owls as scary as bats are in this world? These are the central questions the real heroes must answer.
But wait, the real heroes have disappeared. Who can the world rely on now? How about Lex Luthor, the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Black Adam, Poison Ivy, and many, many more? In other words, the bad guys become the good guys when the worse guys take over. Or something like that.
The fun story sets up a romp across iconic DC Universe locations including Gotham City, Metropolis, Atlantis, the JLA satellite, and even a few surprises. The main hubs are huge and feature plenty of space to explore and side missions to undertake. After completing a story mission, you always have the choice of continuing that path or taking a little time to experience the world, the latter making for a nice diversion.
The missions themselves feature a rotating cast of baddies with a diverse array of powers, with puzzles and secret areas relying on matching the right character for the job. In classic Legogame fashion, you’ll have to visit each level multiple times if you want to collect every canister, brick, and secret seltzer bottle hidden within. Fortunately, the level design here is top notch, and fans will want to revisit areas just to find all the easter eggs scattered about.
The most significant new feature is the addition of a player avatar character as a major factor in the story. While previous Legogames has allowed players to create custom characters, Lego DC Super-Villains puts your character front and center. Your custom villain, endearingly knows as The Rookie, has the ability to acquire new powers making him or her particularly useful. The deep customization features include the ability to choose your own starting powers, special effects, costumes, and voice (used only for basic grunts and exclamations). Putting a little time into creating your own villain ends up paying off by giving you a real investment in the story. While this wouldn’t work in some licensed games, it does here, and it’s an idea I’d like to see again.
Visually, the bricky graphics have finally reached a level that’s nearly indistinguishable from the animated Lego adventures you’ll find on TV or DVD, backed up by the incomparable voice work led by legends Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their roles as Batman and the Joker. There’s also Michael Ironside, Tara Strong, Clancy Brown, Gilbert Gottfried, Gina Torres, Brandon Routh (playing Shazam instead of Superman) and many, many more, all of whom add needed depth to the story.
The whole package comes together well, with familiar yet fun gameplay and creative puzzles that will keep you hopping around and changing characters to get past obstacles. Unfortunately, the player choice seen in some recent Lego games, where you could decide which solution to build in various situations, isn’t used much here. That’s a pity since it added some depth and choice to a pretty straightforward and linear experience.
Also, while nearly all Legogames come polished to a fine sheen, the Switch version of Lego DC Super-Villains, at least, contains a number of game killing bugs. I had the game completely freeze up about a half-dozen times, and one time I defeated a boss but the game didn’t register it, giving me no path forward. Having to reset the game every couple of hours and sometimes repeat entire levels seriously mars an otherwise carefree experience.
Lego DC Super-Villains is a handful of bugs away from being the best franchise entry in several years. Even with them, though, fans of DC Comics and Lego will find a ton here to love.