TT Games has been dabbling with DC and Lego for a fair while, launching the first Lego Batman game 10 years ago, but this year they're doing something slightly different by bringing us a game dedicated entirely to the supervillains of the DC Universe. We got the chance to try the game out for ourselves at E3 to see how the dastardly package performs, and it's good news if you like the bad guys drawn from the various franchises because it seems there's a lot of them.
In this demo alone we got the chance to play as Lex Luthor, Cheetah, Joker, and Harley Quinn, just to name a few, and all of these bring their own mechanics into play as you'd expect. If you're not bounding around the levels like a cat while playing as Cheetah, you'll be using Grundy to move heavy objects, or Luthor to destroy shining surfaces. There's the expected amount of variety from TT Games, but with the added bonus of having recognisable (and some not so much) faces from the various comics, films, and games.
That's not all though, as you'll also be creating your own villain to control in the game, one that will play a pivotal role in the story... despite being a mute. This protagonist can be customised extensively at the game's opening, not just in terms of abilities but also their outfit, and we dressed ours up in boxer shorts and a corn outfit, with sunglasses and a purple beard too. (Because that's how we roll). You can also upgrade your character as you progress, although that element wasn't shown off during our hands-on session.
This hero (or villain) of yours also has unique powers, such as being able to destroy golden objects like turrets that fire infuriating lasers, expressed to you through contextual tutorials that show up when you're stuck (by pressing L3). It's only by using this character in conjunction with your merry band of miscreants that you can pass through each level, and of course, this involves light puzzles to break and build your way to success.
As with all TT Games there's a clear sense of personality pervading through each of the heroes, from their dialogue even down to their attacks. Joker and Harley Quinn's cheeky back-and-forth works nicely with the former's ability to disperse enemies with joke guns and toys, for instance, and all the story cutscenes are packed with all the nudges, winks, and quips we've come to expect from the Lego series.
We won't spoil the entire plot, but it's not just the villains that show up in this game, as of course, they'll be facing off against the heroes, and what's a better adversary than the Justice League itself, which the villainous party comes into conflict with very early on in the story. The catch here is that they're incredibly strong as an assembled unit themselves, so the Justice League will have a really tough time containing them, and there may even be some story surprises in there too...
While we didn't see this in the trailer, TT Games did tell us that there'll be a large hub world aside from the more linear levels and that this will include Gotham, Metropolis, and more. It seems then that this could be the most comprehensive Lego DC world created, and we hope that it can live up to the quality we've seen in the levels found in the hands-on demo, even if we have no idea how the hub world will work yet.
Visually it has to be said that this is perhaps the best a Lego game has ever looked. The little details, everything down to the logos on the figures, have been refined and polished, and what's more is that the plastic looks great both in-game and during the cutscenes, reflecting light in a satisfying way to make every character look like a real toy. It's a small step, but like we've seen in the most recent games in the series, it's one that really brings Lego into the modern age.
As a whole, our time with Lego DC Super-Villains felt satisfying, like slipping into a warm jumper on a cold day. It very clearly retains its Lego identity in terms of the big picture, but little tweaks and the addition of a whole new side of the DC universe keeps things feeling fresh and alive, reigniting the same spark that Suicide Squad did when it was first announced. Let's hope this game fares better than the film though...
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