Previews

Lego Marvel Superheroes preview: Pushing current gen to its limits

Same formula, dazzling new tech

There was a moment during the Lego Marvel Super Heroes demo when we genuinely glanced down at the supplied docs to check if it was running on a PS4. It wasn't - just the humble old Xbox 360.

The impressive sequence in question featured a gigantic, marauding Sand Man made up of thousands of swirling Lego blocks, each coming together to form skyscraper-sized arms and hands used to cinematically pummel Spider-Man and friends.

The scale and complexity of the battles here is dazzling, and considering the calibre of licenses in Marvel's catalogue - with more than 100 unlockable characters promised - we suspect epic action will be a major theme of TT Game's 12th Lego action effort.

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Producer Phil Ring explained: "We knew there would come a point when the older generations and older technology was going to fall behind, and so we decided that this would be the game where we would really push things with bigger environments, bigger characters and more happening on screen.

"We're so lucky that we've got a team of people who know what they're doing and are constantly pushing our tech - it's all our own internal engine and they're constantly iterating, changing and optimising."

The larger scale theme kicks off immediately with The Hulk - one of the many new 'BIG-fig' characters in the game - liberally lobbing bits of pavement and parked cars, as an army of sand soldiers attack New York City.

TT explained that it wants Hulk and other BIG-fig characters to feel different - and more importantly they look fun to play. Stomping along the street outside Grand Central Station, the Green Goliath can pick up cars twice his size, smash through petrol tankers and walls, and even pull chunks of Lego out of the ground for lobbing.

Hulk eventually comes to blows with another super-sized toy, Abomination, and Ring promises a "whole raft" of similarly built powerhouses from the various Marvel families. "There might be some X-Men themed ones, Thor ones and stuff like that," he says. "There's going to be a huge cast of characters that we hope the Marvel fans in particular are going to really enjoy."

Along with the promise of a giant open-world NYC, another potentially enjoyable - if not totally defining - aspect of Lego Marvel looks to be the evolution of its character switching gameplay and the unique abilities of its superhero cast.

As Hulk stomps inside the battered Grand Central Station - mountains of sand spilling from every window - the player can, in Lego tradition, switch at any time to control the comparatively swift Iron Man.

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Immediately it's clear that Tony Stark is a really different prospect to his big mate, as gameplay transitions almost into a third-person shooter. An on-screen reticule allows Iron Man to blast his enemies with a barrage of missiles, and he uses his hover boots to skim across the sandy floor like a Dancing on Ice champion.

Hulk too can transform at any time into his less colourful Bruce Banner form, allowing him to use scientific skill to construct advanced machinery and generally pick up things the lime goon's mitts can't grasp without crushing.

Soon a wall of sand blocks the pair's path, but Hulk shrinks down to Banner form to build and fire a water cannon at the obstacle, solidifying it enough for his larger form to smash through.

Skipping to a later sequence on the rooftops of the city, the emergence of a third character, Spider-Man, further emphasises the unique feel TT Games is aiming to inject into each Marvel celeb.

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