Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)

The (Hopefully Temporarily) Best Game on the X-Box One!

Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)I’ve had my Xbone for a few months now and thus far I’ve been fairly disappointed with what it has to offer.  Not as a system itself; that has been fantastic.  What disappoints me is the lineup available for my next gen system.  I’ve played a few games on the system already and have found the results typically mediocre.  The game I’m reviewing today has been available since the system’s launch, but I’ve never felt it was quite worth its price.  That was until my friend Bob, the Mayor of Krunkytown, told me that I needed it.  Well, you don’t argue with a mayor and so I went out and purchased Lego Marvel Super Heroes, developed by TT Games, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and starring the voices of Stan Lee, John DiMaggio, James Arnold Taylor, Clark Gregg, John Eric Bentley, Dee Bradley Baker, Roger Craig Smith, Troy Baker, Fred Tatasciore, Nolan North, Laura Bailey, Kari Wahlgren, Travis Willingham, and Phil LaMarr.

It would probably be too hard to go too in depth with the story of this game.  Not because it’s particularly complicated, but because I would have to list too many damned names.  The quick break down is that a bunch of supervillains are getting together to steal cosmic bricks in order to build the “Doom Ray of Doom” to defeat Galactus (John DiMaggio) the World Devourer in hopes that it will make the people of Earth fall in line and worship their saviors.  Little do they know that they are being played by the Asgardian God of Mischief Loki (Troy Baker), who intends to harness the power of Galactus to destroy Earth and Asgard.  But Marvel comics doesn’t just make villains, do they?  HELL NO!  AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!  …And a lot of other heroes too!

This is hands down the best game available on the Xbone.  That title is made much easier to achieve by having only 20 other titles to compete with, but that does not take much away from the acclaim.  I’ve always been fond of the Lego series.  I’ve never connected with them too drastically, but they’re typically cute and fun and they just keep getting better.  Some of their properties that they’ve made into Lego versions haven’t interested me too much, but this is Marvel.  Of course I’m in!  And it’s the best Lego game I’ve played.  The story is nothing too spectacular.  It’s basically just a “heroes save the world” deal.  Actually, it’s pretty much the story of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  That’s really all it needs to be though.  What I appreciated about it is the funny little moments they can install into the story.  I still think I liked them better when they couldn’t talk because they were pretty good at adding comedy without it.  But they’re not too shabby with dialogue either.  Having Hulk yell, “HULK SMASH UGLY SIDEBURNS!” when he meets Wolverine is pretty funny.  They also used Nick Fury in some hilarious ways.  Though he had nothing to do with the game, the character of Nick Fury is typically played by Samuel L. Jackson, and Traveller’s Tales used that for some comedy that would be well over the heads of the children that might typically play their games, making some nice references to Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this game was the fan service.  They referenced everything they could think to reference from the Marvel universe, and more specifically the Marvel movies.  There was a part where the Hulk punches the Green Goblin as he punched Thor in the Avengers, Thor arrives into the game like he does in Thor: The Dark World and even in a similar setting, the Put Up Your Dukes level is right out of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, one of the times you rescue Stan Lee is a reference to when he drank the infected juice in the Hulk movie, the chess set where we find Stan at one point might be a subtle reference to his cameo in the Avengers, and the game even has a mid-credit sequence like the greater majority of comic book movies.  Also, there are achievements for doing the Fastball Special (throwing Wolverine at an enemy as Colossus) and for having Captain America and Human Torch on the same team (because both are played by Chris Evans in the movies).

Now, all of those references could not have been recognized if it were not for some extreme levels of nerdiness.  That nerdiness also caused a few problems with this game.  At one point, Gambit stops the Juggernaut dead in his tracks by dropping a chandelier on him.  As big of a fan of Gambit as I am, that just doesn’t happen.  Once the Juggernaut starts moving, nothing can stop him!  He’s the Juggernaut, bitch!  Also, why is the X-Men airplane called the X-Jet now?  Is it not still the Blackbird?  And since when is the X-Mansion on the island of Manhattan?!  I also had a lot of problems arise from what the characters were able to do.  First of all, Spider-Man has genius-level intellect.  Why do I have to switch to that lame ass Mister Fantastic in order to use a control panel?  And while we’re on the subject: I know you probably felt the need to make Mister Fantastic seem useful, but since when can he turn himself into complex machines like an electric screwdriver?  That doesn’t even make sense!  …The rest of the game is perfectly logical to me though…  I also thought Mystique should’ve been more useful.  She can basically just sneak past things.  Shouldn’t she at least be able to turn into people with claws to use the claw switches?  She turned into Wolverine and had claws in the first X-Men movie!  I also didn’t like that Jean Grey didn’t have the special senses to detect switches like Spider-Man and Wolverine.  How does that make sense?  She has EXTRA Sensory Perception!  That’s like two more sensories!  And even worse, how can she take fire damage when you pick the version of Jean Grey that’s the Phoenix?  She flew into the Sun as the Phoenix!  And how does Iron Man get frozen?!  He fixed that icing problem in Iron Man 1!  And how does Magneto not fly?!  I AM THE KING OF NERDS!!

Admittedly, the look of the game doesn’t quite live up to next gen expectations.  It looks about as good as recent Lego games have on current/previous gen consoles.  It’s the look they’re going for and I don’t really knock it for that.  It’s kind of for kids, so it’s supposed to have a really colorful and not necessarily photorealistic look.  Also, it’s a Lego game.  How do you go photorealistic with that?  And this one is different from any others I’ve played because they let you play around in a sandbox Manhattan between story missions, and that is just fine by me.  I got to jet through the streets as Iron Man and the Silver Surfer!  Although I was a little bit bothered that the Silver Surfer’s flying sounded a little like a vacuum cleaner.  Is he the Silver Maid or something?  I thought all maids were brown!  BOOM!

The game is really fun and kept me interested right up to the point where I got 100% on the achievements.  I can’t really keep wasting time on a game when I’m not getting no chievos no more!  There were a couple of minor problems with the game.  Sometimes the camera didn’t want to play along, or more accurately to let you see what you were playing.  I also had a common problem where my character would choose to target my ally relentlessly when I was surrounded by enemies.  I also got irritated in the first level because they kept putting up reminders when I was the Hulk that I could hold Y to turn back into Bruce Banner.  Why would I ever want to do that?  You realize that I’m currently the Hulk, right?

Lego Marvel Super Heroes is currently my favorite Xbone game by leaps and bounds.  It’s not hard to do when everything else on the system turned out to be okay at best, but the game is still entirely enjoyable.  The story is simple but peppered with some enjoyable humor, the game looks good though not quite next gen quality yet, and it’s lots of fun to play.  I got hours of enjoyment out of this game and lost track of most of those hours after I started playing and realized shortly after that it was 4 in the morning.  And it’s an easy 1000 achievements for you achievement whores like me.  Don’t try to act like you’re too adult to enjoy this game!  It’s fun for the whole family!  Lego Marvel Super Heroes gets “Excelsior!” out of “I’m still hungry!  I need something to eat!”

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Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (2011)

Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted

Having gotten Skyrim out of my house and having … completed? Rage … I was finally able to jump back into the Animus and head into a sequel in on of my favorite franchises out right now: Assassin’s Creed. As the second Assassin’s Creed game to come out in 2011 (the other being Brotherhood), one may wonder if Ubisoft is over-saturating the market with these games, and when will we get sick of them? But the only time they have disappointed me so far is when they tried to make the game work on the handheld PSP, so let’s see if this game holds up, or if it lets down. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was developed by Ubisoft Montreal, published by Ubisoft, and features the voices of Roger Craig Smith, Cas Anvar, and Nolan North.

Desmond Miles (Nolan North) is in a coma after the events of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. He wakes up on what appears to be the beach from the end of Contact and is greeted by the remaining consciousness of Subject Sixteen, previous resident of the Animus, now dead. Sixteen tells Desmond that his mind is falling apart and the only way to save it is to finish reliving his ancestor’s memories. He jumps back into the memories of Ezio Auditore Da Firenze (Roger Craig Smith). Ezio goes back to where all the Assassin’s Creed games got their start; the village of Masyaf. Upon arrival, he is captured and nearly executed by Templars, but he escapes and finds there’s a hidden library beneath Masyaf, left by a previous master Assassin, Altair ibn La-Ahad (Cas Anvar). Ezio embarks on a journey to find 5 keys to the library, hidden by Niccolo Polo. He heads to Constantinople, helps a small faction of Assassin’s rise to power, befriends a book collector named Sofia Sartor, and gets involved in a power struggle between potential Sultans.

I haven’t yet met a console Assassin’s Creed game I didn’t like. This game continues in the excellence of the series, but has a few missteps. The game play is roughly the same as every other AC game with a couple, notable changes. All the previews showed a much-aged Ezio, and talk about the game worried me that his ability to traverse the city would be diminished with his age, but Ezio suffered no such ill-effects. Ubisoft has refined the movements of their Assassin’s throughout the games, and it only gets better here. The most notable addition to the game is that the hidden blade now offers a new hook that Ezio can use to propel himself up the sides of buildings quicker, and allows him to zip line across gaps using ropes that connect buildings for no reason I could figure out. But it works, so who cares. You still have many of the items you had in previous games, such as swords, daggers, maces, a gun, a crossbow, poison, and throwing knives. They added in a pretty complicated bomb-making process that allowed you to make bombs with deadly things and things that will distract. It was a bit over-complicated to combine the various ingredients and make bombs, but also something I never really found the need for, so I barely used them. They bring back a part I rather liked from Brotherhood in that you can now train Assassin’s and send them out on missions and use them in battles, but now you can assign them to lead Assassin dens and control portions of the city. This also brought along something I wasn’t that fond of in the little mini-games to keep control of those parts of the city. I don’t know what the world’s obsession with tower defense games is, but I don’t feel like they have much of a place in my Assassin’s Creed games. It basically becomes a group of Templars running down a street and you trying to stop them by putting different types of Assassin’s on the rooftops or behind barricades you can place. It’s super easy to take out most of the foot Templars, but then it ends with a giant battering ram that is barely affected by any kind of Assassin you can place. But, thankfully, you can avoid having to play this more than once if you keep your Templar awareness down. The combat is smooth and satisfying, and handles a lot like Batman: Arkham Asylum/City, but you don’t have to have some pussy code about not killing people. And the ways Ezio finishes people off are more brutal and awesome in this game than in the others. You can jam your hook into enemies and slam them into the ground, stab them in the stomach and lift the blade through the top of their head, and (my favorite) stab them through the face, spin the sword (and their head) around 360 degrees, and then remove the sword.

The story is roughly as confusing as it always is. All of the stories are pretty straight-forward throughout, but then take some strange, confusing turn at the end. The pattern is that you’re Desmond, you go into the machine, you relive the memories of Altair/Ezio, and then at the end you find out something about the First Civilization that existed on earth before mankind and then I can’t really figure the rest out. I’ve always felt like these games would work a lot better for me if they cut out the whole Desmond/Animus thing and just let us be Ezio and Altair. Their stories are pretty interesting and well flushed out. My favorite part of the story was Ezio’s relationship with Sofia. They seemed to develop some affections for each other, but their interactions were great, and the graphics really captured their personalities on their faces. Most of it was a very subtle flirtation, but it seemed they may end up together after the events of the game. My favorite part of the game is you get to be Altair again. HUZZAH! It was good to not only get to play as Altair again, but actually find out what happened to him after the events of Assassin’s Creed, as he’s not a significant part of any other game besides the crappy PSP game. The only problem with Altair was playing him as an old man because he couldn’t run, and the walking took too long. In Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood, you got to interact with Leonardo Di Vinci, but you didn’t get any cool historical person to interact with in this game. They had Suleiman, Niccolo Polo, Prince Ahmet, Selim, and Mauel Palaiologos, but I didn’t know any of them. I was also a little disappointed in the items that you can unlock in the game, just because previous games let you collect some Altair armor, and this game gets you some good armor, but nothing that mattered to me because I’d never heard of the person who’s armor you unlock.

Assassin’s Creed 2 introduced something to the series that it has taken me some time to warm up to: multiplayer. I refused to play it in AC2 out of the assumption that it was a typical game staple of having to tack on pointless mutliplayer so that people wouldn’t sell your game. I just wanted the single player experience, personally, and that multiplayer was wasting valuable realty on my discs. When it showed up again in Brotherhood, I gave it a try for about an hour, but got bored and stopped playing. I typically will only venture into multiplayer gaming for FPS games, and was not that interested in trying something new. I put much more time into the multiplayer here. I’m beginning to respect it. It takes a novel, new approach to multiplayer. This game is about patience and planning, not about running and gunning. Each player picks a character and is dropped into a section of city with multiple versions of your character. Your goal is then to walk around the battlefield, find your target, and kill them as stealthily as you can, while also keeping a weary eye out for the person hunting you. You find your target, press X to kill them. You become the target, press B to stun them, then beat cheeks to escape. It’s actually quite enjoyable, though the more experienced players do have a bit of unfair advantage based on the skills they’ve unlocked. It’s still very satisfying to blend into a group with one or two more AI characters that look just like you and watch the person hunting you accidentally stab one of the innocent people thinking it was you. Also, trying to get close to your target while trying to behave like AI so as not to give yourself away is pretty exciting as well. One big issue I have with the multiplayer is that I don’t think it will hold my interest for too long. It’s a nice change of pace, but it gets stale for me. Also, pretty much every game type just basically turns into a stab fest anyway. Whether you’re supposed to stab someone who has the special item, stab people to corrupt them and make them join you, or stab people to stab people.

The achievements are easy, but a little time consuming. The ones that may give you trouble is the 100% synchronization on all of the memories (which is a sentence that is total gibberish to anyone who hasn’t played the series), the collecting, and the multiplayer, but all of them are pretty enjoyable to get, so I’d say it’s worth the time.

I still find myself in love with the Assassin’s Creed series. Even though they’re on their 4th console title, and number 5 is supposed to come out before the end of 2012, they have kept the series fresh and enjoyable with fantastic controls, satisfying combat, fantastic graphics, a great and well-told (if a bit confusing) story, and even unique and enjoyable multiplayer. From what I’ve heard, the next game may well be the end of the series, and it will most likely take place in present day with us playing as Desmond. I will still be playing it, but I do wish they had taken us into more times as people rumored they would. A Japanese ninja-esque Assassin would have been fun, but also may have just been a Tenchu game. Either way, this game is great, and I’m on board for the next installment. I bought it, and I think you should too, especially if you’re a fan of the series. If not, maybe just rent it and see. But, for me, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations gets “Could it be that you are every bit as deadly as the legends say?” out of “Trust without cynicism is hollow.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!