Whilst the LEGO video games have often let you step into the shoes of the villains, none have actually seen the whole game revolve around them. Well, that’s changed this year with the release of LEGO DC Super-Villains, with iconic DC villains like The Joker, Lex Luthor and Darkseid taking centre stage in a story that essentially sees them become the hero.
It gives a whole different outlook on the DC universe, especially since we’ve seen three LEGO Batman games already, but I personally think the villains have more charm than the heroes anyway so naturally it ticked a lot of boxes for me. It makes for an enjoyable adventure for gamers to be a part of too, though it’s one that never strays too far from the gameplay fundamentals that the LEGO games have established over the years.
LEGO DC Super-Villains’ tale sees the Justice League disappearing and instead being replaced by the ‘Justice Syndicate’ – a selection of ‘heroes’ that have a wide-range of nefarious schemes up their sleeves, some of which even rival those set upon the cities of Metropolis and Gotham by the world’s more familiar villains. Of course, with the heroes of the DC universe out of the equation, it’s up to the villains to save the world. Funny how things work out, right?
It makes for a fun tale and one that’s hard not to find yourself completely charmed by. It brings so many villains into the equation throughout too, with even unfamiliar faces that you might never have heard of mixing it up with recognisable characters like Bane, Harley Quinn and Gorilla Grodd. Oh, and it’s certainly worth mentioning that there’s a great script that’s delivered perfectly by the voice cast – I’d be remiss not to mention that Mark Hamill returns as the voice of The Joker, and it’s one of his finest performances yet.
Whilst there’s a good mixture of familiar and unfamiliar villains to play as though, LEGO DC Super-Villains actually does something different by having you create your own character that plays a pivotal role in the narrative. This isn’t just an extra figure to play as in Freeplay – your character will be one of the core stars of the story and is the driving force behind taking down the Justice Syndicate.
The character creator offers a surprisingly deep system, with the player able to craft their own little villain and fine-tune all of their details, including things like how their costume looks, their powers, and even how their voice sounds. It was a little disappointing that a lot of the options were locked initially, though the fact you can continually customise your character as you unlock stuff ensures you’ll never feel limited with their design.
The fact you could use your own created character just added a real personal touch to LEGO DC Super-Villains and shows that TT Games are looking to take steps in helping the games evolve, all whilst maintaining the universes that form the basis of each title and ensuring that you feel like a part of them. By the end of the game I really felt like my character was a DC villain, which is all thanks to the robust character creation tool and the way that they were tied into the story.
Gameplay-wise, LEGO DC Super-Villains gives you exactly what you’d expect from a LEGO game. You’ve got some large open-worlds to explore (LEGO Gotham and Metropolis look great) as well as the more confined but well-designed standard levels. There’s plenty to do in both, with the open-worlds home to plenty of secrets, side quests and races, whilst the levels offer the traditional blend of building, battling, puzzle-solving and collecting. Again, like other LEGO games there’s just so much to do and it’ll take a good while before you hit that 100% mark in the game, but fortunately it never feels like a drag.
It also comes with some new features, my favourite of which was with the use of character’s powers in-game. So often in older LEGO games you’d be forced to switch characters in order to use their powers to solve a puzzle, but it’d often be a fuss figuring out which one you needed to use. LEGO DC Super-Villains actually automatically switches to the right character, allowing you to use their power with ease without having to faff around swapping to them. It might sound like a small feature, but anyone who has played one of the older LEGO games will certainly appreciate it.
Other than that there are a few smaller features in place, though not enough to make LEGO DC Super-Villains feel too different from the other LEGO games that have come before it. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but anyone who has played a LEGO game won’t find a whole lot different here from a gameplay perspective – it’s still a fun game that’s accessible for all, but still, I’m wondering when TT Games will do SOMETHING to really make one of their latest games feel like a unique standout entry. It’s still missing online multiplayer too, which is a big shame because there’s a genuinely fun co-op adventure to be had here.
LEGO DC Super-Villains really changes up the formula a bit with its focus on creating your own character, whilst additional improvements (including auto-character swapping for abilities) go some way in ensuring it’s one of the more enjoyable entries in the LEGO video game series. However, whilst it has some unique ideas that help it stand apart from the other titles, the gameplay still feels the same as every other entry you’d have played this generation.
Is that a bad thing? No way. LLEGO DC Super-Villains is still a heck of a lot of fun to play, whether you’re blasting through in single player or with a friend in local co-op. Just know that you’re getting more of the same gameplay you’ve seen in previous entries, albeit with a few improvements along the way.
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: WB Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC