Okay, I think it’s fair to say that I’m probably fast becoming the designated LEGO guy here at Gamecloud. With my writer’s bio stating my love for the Danish building bricks since day one and various Star Wars LEGO sets dotted around my house, you can understand why every time a new LEGO game gets announced, I start grinning like a moron. Even coming off the less than incredible LEGO Incredibles and all the similarities one could draw between the two properties, I was still super excited for LEGO DC Super-Villains. After playing the game to completion, I can say without a doubt this is probably one of, if not, the best LEGO game Traveller’s Tales has cranked out in their long history producing these titles.
“Catwoman and Cheetah are so catty, I’m just gonna keep quiet…”
I’m gonna try my best not to gush non-stop through this review, but believe me when I say I had more fun in my thirty-ish hours playing LEGO DC Super-Villains than I did in the majority of releases that have come out ALL YEAR. Whether that is a testament to some awesome vision, solid game design or my rampant childishness, I guess we can never know for sure, but the final product is just beautiful.
If you’ve never played a LEGO game from Traveller’s Tales before, I’ll get the quick stuff out of the way first. You play a LEGO minifig in a series of platforming, combat and puzzle based missions progressing through a story, collecting studs (in-game currency), hidden minikits (unlockable stuff) Gold or Red bricks (for completion and cheat modes, respectively) and unlock other characters, with a host of side quests and races to fill in the gaps. If that sounds like a super bare bones description, it’s because, on a technical level, these games have changed very little in the design department since LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game waaaaay back in 2005.
“I may or may not have added Poison Ivy’s sexy scent to my abilities…”
Saying that, though, Traveller’s Tales certainly do love improving things. Previous LEGO games have dabbled with new mechanics here and there, but aside from LEGO Batman 2 introducing open worlds and dialogue moving forward, most have kept to the tried and true formula. LEGO DC Super-Villains I’m sure will mark a new milestone on that path, however, as it has now introduced fully integrated player created characters, something I’m hoping continues for the series. To be clear, customising a minifig has been around since the beginning and depending on the license, I’ve created a Jedi, a pirate and so on, many times. In this game, though, Traveller’s Tales went one step further, seamlessly slotting whatever character you create into the main story, having them show up in cutscenes and getting direct interaction from the likes of the Joker, Superman and so many others in the course of the story.
The story begins with Commissioner Gordon walking into Strykers prison to strike a bargain with Lex Luthor to observe a newly caught criminal, which you discover is you, as you’re tossed straight into the significantly overhauled character creator. All the usual staples are there, like different heads, faces, body designs, colours, weapons and such, but now you can tweak your character voice (attacks, grunts and oofs), the colour shade of their energy powers, the type of animations they have (are they a speedster, a maniac, a brawler) and so much more. You’re not even locked into your choices, as you can add or remove stuff and change anything any time you like. The only thing I could say about this section is that it could be a tad easier to navigate or have an option to put things into sets like I select one part and the other matching bits could all pop up along with it.
“There’s a reason you should only have one energy drink a day.”
Anyway, I was very excited to see this new addition, and, in the spirit of my writer bio, I created a goofy looking green haired weirdo wearing sunglasses and a slick black body suit (complete with rippling abs and pecs, because I have those, yes, yes I do) and named him the Energy Drinker. Surprise of all surprises then as I continued the story, following a quick break-out from Strykers, I discover one of the main plot points for my centre stage villain is that he can suck up super energy from these special container things and acquire new abilities. I swear I knew nothing of this going in, but the moment it happened, I sat back, took a long look at the can of Mother energy drink on my desk and burst into laughter.
With that as a starting point, the plot races off on a series of increasingly hilarious tangents featuring doppelgangers from the DC multiverse, world-destroying plots and so much more. I’m not going to say another word about the story except that it was very entertaining from start to finish and even though most of their movie tie-in games have been excellent, it’s becoming clear that Traveller’s Tales are much better at creating fun, original narratives using existing licences and characters. Running through the story sections a few times in Freeplay to unlock extra stuff even helped me spot a few things I missed the first time, though I wish the cutscene skip on Lois Lane’s interview interludes would show up a bit quicker. I get that it doubles as a sneaky loading screen, but when you’re grinding for studs (again!), you sometimes see these cutscenes multiple times. Also, Jimmy Olsen needs to put his camera on charge. That on-screen battery indicator is in the red the whole time! You live in a world where super stuff happens all the time Jimmy, come on!
“A surprise party with cake and balloons? You know, for a bunch of bad guys, you’re all so nice!”
In regards to the world of LEGO DC Super Villains, once again we have a fully fleshed out open world to explore. The cities of Gotham and Metropolis are the main focus of the hub, appearing here practically side by side, which I choose to believe is a playful jab at those who made fun of how that happened in Batman v Superman. In addition to those locations, you also get to visit smaller areas for Smallville, Arkham Asylum and a boggy swamp that hides the Legion of Doom headquarters, all of which are as rich in detail and funny little references as the streets of the main cities. The same can be said for the levels themselves, often filled to bursting with detail and clever nods to the broader DC history.
Speaking of history, even though your created character is silent in cutscenes (something the other minifigs regularly make fun of), everyone else is voiced and oh boy, I was beside myself with joy when I recognised so many familiars. From Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy back together again as the Joker and Batman, to Nolan North, Laura Bailey and Jennifer Hale taking on multiple characters, we also get Star Trek alumni like Armin Shimmerman, Jeffrey Combs and Michael Dorn and even Highlander villains Clancy Brown and Michael Ironside, to mention a few. What’s even better is a lot of these actors are reprising their character roles from previous DC series or games, even from years ago, and having them all here lends so much authenticity to this silly little plastic building block world, I love it all.
LEGO DC Super-Villains was a delight to play from start to finish and once again shows an attention to the source material even the big budget DC films sometimes seem to lack. The astounding voice cast brought together brings the world to life, and the refined gameplay systems are as simple as ever to pick up and jump in. Even though the target audience for these games is no doubt on the younger end of the spectrum, Traveller’s Tales have delivered a superb game with a little something for everyone. With great new gameplay additions, hilarious storytelling and the impressive rogue’s gallery of DC to draw from, LEGO DC Super Villains lives up to its bad guy rep and completely steals the show.