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Lego Marvel Superheroes preview: Pushing current gen to its limits

Same formula, dazzling new tech

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Simply the way he manoeuvres around the environment on swinging webs makes Spidey look different from his costumed colleagues, but Peter Parker can also use his powers to scale some walls, create ropes to out-of-reach areas and pull away obstructing scenery.

Clouds of blue particles in the environment also indicate where he can make use of spider sense, which will highlight significant aspects of the scenery which can be interacted with in order to advance.

At full flow our TT Games demoer uses all three characters in order to reach and defeat that incredible Sand Man goliath; Iron Man shoots up a generator, Spider-Man creates a web rope for Banner, who can then construct and fire a water cannon at the boss, who's finally left venerable for a bit of Hulk Smashing.

The series' building blocks (sorry) of drop in, drop out co-op and daft humour too look on top form, with characters fully voiced and bantering throughout.

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On the surface this sort of gameplay doesn't sound any different from what you might've done in literally dozens of Lego outings before, but it looks so refined that fans are unlikely to care. And you won't need a next-gen console to run it.


INTERVIEW: PRODUCER PHIL RING

You've made more than 10 Lego games in this mould now. Can you say with confidence that you're not running out of ideas?

Yeah. We're really lucky with the titles that we get to work on because each of the IPs brings something fresh. We get to do things in Marvel that we couldn't do in the other titles. Our creative producers are always asking what we can do not only from what the IP brings, but from a tech perspective - how can we push things and make them bigger and better? We're always trying to push our tech, which in turn means we can create new mechanics and do new cool things.

This time around we want to do more voice, more dialogue, people talking in the levels... we really want to bring these characters alive. We're still working through the casting and the actors - we don't have any announcements on who's playing who because we're not entirely surely ourselves. Hopefully we've got some things coming up that will get some people really excited.

Is there a wish list somewhere of features you'd like to eventually put in a Lego game, or is it more a case that the IP drives your inspiration?

We're always playing around with different ideas that are both IP-based and just tech-based. Examples that we've done in the past would be the dynamic splitscreen mechanic - we knew that there was a problem from a tech perspective because we were dragging people around and the jumping was really difficult in our games, so we decided to review the tech and make it better. That turned in to splitscreen and then eventually dynamic splitscreen.

So we're always trying to drive things that make the game experience better and they don't necessarily have to be linked to any IP in particular - we just have to decide what would be cool and what people like doing.

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Specifically, how have you improved the tech with Marvel? The game looks fantastic.

We're so lucky that we've got one of those teams with people who know what they're doing and they're constantly pushing and reviewing our tech - because it's all our own internal engine. There's constantly iteration, changes and optimisation.

We'll have an idea, for example we want to have the citizens of New York City going about their daily business, and we've never had any tech like that before in an open world. The guys just got 'right, we've got our goal now' and go about reviewing and changing things.

We're trying to make our Lego Marvel New York City feel alive and cool. We want to make sure there are things to do and every time you go around a corner there are things to interact with and explore. You'll see Hulk walls that you can smash through and have that kind of interactivity with the city.

You stumble across things during the development process as well like a brilliant thing for a gameplay mechanic. It's just testament to the guys at Traveller's Tales who are doing a fantastic job working on the engine and adjusting it to do new things.

And presumably that investment in technology prepares you for the new consoles as well?

Yeah. We're always on the look out for the new technology and what we can do with it. At TT Games we don't just want to dive in to new tech because it's there - we want to make sure it's the right experience, which is why we always try to make sure that if we're always adding functionality, adding platforms or adding mechanics that they are genuinely good additions to the game.

We knew that there would come a point when the older generations and older technology is going to fall behind and not be able to keep up, and so we decided this would be the game where we would really push things with bigger environments, bigger characters and more happening on screen.

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Can you rule out a next-gen version of Marvel Superheroes specifically, or is that something you're not talking about?

We've got no announcements at the moment other than the platforms that we're talking about at the moment. Like I said, we're always looking a new tech to see if we can do something really cool.

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