Your Villainous Dreams
The latest video game in the LEGO franchise is the fourth game based in the DC universe: DC Super Villains. With the first three being focused on Batman, it’s a pretty cool spin to have a game which makes the characters all bad guys from the DC world. The first action in the game is to create your own Lego Super Villain, and there is plenty of customization to make a unique antihero to attack and conquer Gotham City and Metropolis: or so I thought. As the game begins, your freshly built character enters Stryker Island to break out the leader of the criminal clan, Lex Luthor. Near the end of the breakout, the Justice League intervenes, and fans of the comics will recognize the Forever Evil storyline from 2013.
One of the greatest achievements of the game is its greatly timed humor and well written dialogue. The game creates a perfect balance of funny that adults can appreciate, but also family friendly for any kids nearby or playing the game themselves. A perfect example comes with the first encounter between Lex Luthor and Superman, in which Superman states that he must stop the break out so that Stryker Island will not lose its best dishwasher. A witty Luthor responds quickly that he “chops the vegetables now!” and the fight ensues.
As the fight between the Justice League and escaping super villains sets off, the Joker and Harley Quinn are in Gotham breaking into Wayne Tech. Batman confronts them, and the two battles converge. As the Super Villains make their escape, a group of “Heroes” from Earth-3 emerge, capture the actual Justice League, and claim themselves as the “Justice Syndicate”. These heroes are an almost identical replica of the Justice League, with people such as Ultraman and Owlman instead of Superman and Batman. They gain the public’s trust, and the super villain you created now becomes the hero to battle the false Justice Syndicate, which turns out to be the Crime Syndicate, and save the real Justice League from their grasp.
Mischief and Mayhem
When it comes to the gameplay of DC Super Villains, it is the same as the many Lego games before it: there is much to smash. One button attacks, another uses a super power, and another interacts with the environment. The controls are very simple and easy to master. The cities of Gotham and Metropolis are highly explorable, with a decent number of side missions to keep a player pretty busy. Before each mission begins, a cutscene decides which characters are going to embark on the journey. The baddies are then set to either head straight to the beginning point of the mission and continue with the main story, or explore the cities for secrets, collectibles, or quests. Gotham and Metropolis are explorable by vehicle, where you can either pick from the vehicle grid and place one nearby, snatch an idle one, or jump into a civilian’s car and send them walking home in classic Harley Quinn fashion. Driving is fast paced, and the Lego vehicles are a little hard to handle.
Each character has different abilities, and the team assembled is always a perfect set to traverse the next level to progress. The player must switch between villains and use their super powers or abilities to get through different puzzles or tricks that will open doors or unlock the next portion of the path. This can range from using Captain Cold’s gun to freeze some water to create a bridge, to using the Joker’s laughing gas to get past a guard. There are also little minigames that are unique to each character who must complete it, such as Flash, whose minigame reminded me of an old Sonic game in which one must follow the rings and avoid obstacles with a quick decision of which direction to press.
Plenty of Criminal Activity
Lego DC Super Villains is packed with content. I progressed through levels without a large commitment to finding secrets, and I rarely did. There are plenty of hidden items and even a hidden character in each level, and it would take a decent amount of time to search and find one hundred percent of them. The super villain roster is huge! I noticed that during the original play through of each level, there is at least one portion, sometimes more, that cannot be unlocked with your current cast and you must return in free play with different characters to unlock that secret. This is fun when you have some friends or family that love to play Lego games, and you can pick characters and fight through levels differently to prevent repetitiveness. However, many of the levels themselves seem a bit repetitive, with prison breakouts being a common theme. I found myself constantly reducing the volume on my TV to avoid the shrill noise of a blaring alarm as I fought through guards.
I recommend the game developed by Traveler’s Tales to anyone who likes DC comics, Lego games, Lego related content, or all of the above. The open Lego world provides plenty of hours of gameplay, with levels meant to be replayed to obtain all the collectible items. Boss battles between the villains and some of the Super Heroes or Crime Syndicate are often complex, which brings a new level of fun and entertainment. The game captures a great story with excellent dialogue and has many fun puzzles to complete in each level. While overall the game is good, at certain points the camera angles were atrocious. During certain levels, this made finding the next way to go or item to interact with confusing and difficult at times. The plot is entertaining, with the characters usually causing problems or planning world domination having to band together in order to defeat the Crime Syndicate of America and save their nemesis, the Justice League. The game is extremely fun, and there is something soothing about destroying a room full of Lego built tables at a fancy restaurant while the upper-class Lego citizens run away in their fancy clothes.