LEGO DC Super-Villains
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Designers: Jon Burton, Arthur Parsons
Review by Stephanie Cooke
If you’ve played any of the LEGO games before, you’ll know that for the most part, they’re a whole lot of fun. They’re great to play on your own but even better to play with someone else (or at least that’s the case for me).
LEGO DC Super-Villains takes the plot formula from the other games and decides to turn things around. Instead of focusing on the heroes, we delve into the minds (and bodies) of infamous villains from DC Comics. I didn’t really look up much on the game in advance of playing it so I assumed we’d get to cause mayhem solely as the villains, but seeing as the LEGO games are primarily geared towards kids, this was not the case. Instead, the plot does involve the villains causing mayhem but then using their particular skillsets for the greater good. The Justice League are captured by a group of imposter “heroes” from another Earth (specifically Earth 3). They’re posing as the good guys but the villains soon learn that while they’re the “bad guys”, these poser heroes are real, real bad guys. It’s up to them to save the day! It’s time for the villains to become the heroes…or you know, slightly less villainy villains.
The premise is cute and I get why you wouldn’t just be allowed to run around causing mayhem (we have games like Grand Theft Auto for that). Whether or not the game really sells the premise is another thing entirely. I think when we have a game geared towards kids and after seeing game after game after game with the focus on the hero characters, it’s an interesting angle to put the focus on the villains. I’m not 100% sure that kids are all that familiar with all of these villains though and if they’re thus attracted to the game for them. Obviously The Joker is a character that most are familiar with but outside of that (and guest appearances by other hero characters), do kids know Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Heat Wave, and Killer Frost? I’m sure shows like The Flash, as well as Green Arrow have helped with awareness but even those aren’t necessarily aimed towards a young kid audience (especially not Green Arrow).
But I digress – aside from the change in characters (as in villains instead of heroes), this game doesn’t offer a whole lot that we haven’t seen before. I found a lot of the controls to be a little clunky – it was hard to use flying characters, and the speedsters (like Reverse-Flash) are a bit hard to control. The vehicles aren’t really easy to drive and even after having played virtually every LEGO game that had come before, I felt as though I were learning the controls for the first time. Driving didn’t feel like it got easier as time went on. It was just frustratingly hard throughout. I can’t even imagine how kids would’ve felt – although maybe they got a kick out of crashing into things every two seconds and running people and poles over.
The missions within Story Mode are much of the same. Again, if you’ve played any previous LEGO game, you’re essentially just replaying it with all new characters within an established franchise. There are slight variations always but there are always things you can absolutely do the first time round in Story Mode and then a bajillion other things to unlock should you choose to play the level again (the completionist in me cries every time I can’t get something right away).
The one thing that seems weird to me is that the developers included a character creation portion to the beginning of the game. You can spend ages (or not) making the perfect character or simply just select one at random or one of the pre-mades. But despite the fact that they’ve included this, the focus of the game isn’t this custom character. You go back and forth between the villains with the focus sometime on The Joker or Harley or someone like Cheetah or Solomon Grundy. The “you” character is never really the sole focus. Part of the story revolves around some tech that allows a character to absorb a new superpower. I guess they didn’t want to take any one character out of continuity by giving them these powers? But basically you spend all this time playing as a bunch of other villains from the comics only to give all these new abilities to the “you” character, even though you don’t have a story or anything else really going for you.
This verdict really depends on you: do you love the LEGO games and don’t mind the repetitive nature of them? Do you like the DC Universe enough to play with mostly obscure villains from it? If yes, then you’ll enjoy LEGO DC Super-Villains and you should absolutely buy it. I don’t think it’s necessarily a DAY ONE purchase (and we’re past that anyways with the game having come out on Friday) but it’s enjoyable and will definitely give you something fun to play as the weather gets cooler for the winter months to come.
If you are so-so on the LEGO games and don’t really know much about DC villains, you could probably just skip this game. It is fun but if you are on the fence about whether you need this or not, you can probably survive without it.