LEGO DC series has mostly focused on Batman as the main character. When Warner Bros. Interactive announced a new LEGO DC game would bring in the supervillains instead of the superheroes, it promised a marginally different formula to the standard LEGO DC game. Even though most of the gameplay mechanics stay the same in LEGO DC Super-Villains, the scope of the levels is significantly expanded with more polished visuals so they now more closely resemble the cinematics featured in the game.
LEGO DC Super-Villains will let you play as the evil guys and cause chaos and destruction all over Gotham and Metropolis. It is a unique twist on the traditional superhero formula, except underneath all of its appeal lies the same conventional dated design used in most of the classic LEGO games. This is why the games are only fun if you play them in co-op with someone else, otherwise, they end up feeling dull and monotonous and it is possible to suffer from LEGO fatigue as well.
The most marketable feature this time is the ability to create your own supervillain. It is possible to pick from a range of customization options from the appearance to superpowers. The game introduces this supervillain by granting him the ability to absorb other superpowers providing freedom in their creation based on player’s choice. There are so many playable supervillains in the game covering almost every major IP. Each of the supervillains delivers its own set of unique powers, and the combat system has received some tweaks to make it feel less repetitive this time.
The story deals with a creative problem where the main Justice League gets captured by a new breed of superheroes called the Justice Syndicate. They are identical to the old league in everything but the name. It turns out that these superheroes have arrived from another dimension parallel to the Earth, but it is soon revealed that their intentions are not what it seems at first. Amidst all the chaos, there is a rift between the supervillains, and the story goes through plenty of twists to bring a spotlight on most of the DC properties. It is not a well-crafted story admittedly, but it gets the job done. The main draw, however, is in co-op and figuring out how to solve puzzles or explore together in this open world.
The one thing that I hate is how LEGO games keep reusing the same UI design. It has been such a long time now, but there is no change made on this front. It gives the game a feeling of déjà vu that shouldn’t happen in this case; because the combat is now considerably more heroic and the exploration is a lot more liberating than the past few games. There is an open world in the shape of Gotham and Metropolis that you can explore around with full freedom along with a co-op partner.
LEGO games are essentially collectathon and this new entry is no different. The same old collectibles repeat here including the golden bricks. This series needs a radical shift to revamp this formula after so many LEGO games, because after all, how many times can you care to get these collectibles again? Even though there is a main hub in the game, you will play it in the form of levels. You can get back to a level at any point in a new free roam format used to go back and find any of the missing collectibles with your new abilities. Fans will be already familiar with this approach, so it is nothing new or exciting to see here.
LEGO DC Super-Villains has more than 150 playable characters, which feels like it is a lot. There will be variations to the supervillains and their powers but most of the characters that you end up using for the main story feel unique. Their abilities provide the basis of the level design, therefore, involving the need to switch between the different villains offering a unique perspective on the gameplay. Joker is good at controlling others and will exercise this power to unlock various points of interest. Sandman can morph into three various sizes depending on the specification, similarly, Scarecrow can use his fear gas to scare the enemies. Harley is good at pulling in gags and performing stunts using her hammer.
The diverse character roster feels good to play in Lego Super-Villains, even if most are fanservice because some great actors voice them like Mark Hamil as Joker. Additionally, this brings back a custom character which shows up as a new villain called “The Rookie.” The co-op experience allows anyone to switch between the characters at any point during the game, giving you the chance to uniquely combine the different powers to forge a new path or unlock an old one.
The visuals for the game now more closely resemble their cinematics. In the past, some of the LEGO games used to offer pre-rendered cinematics that was higher quality than the actual in-game visuals, but this appears to not be the case here. Even though cutscenes still indicate a more superior level of polish overall, the actual visuals that you experience during gameplay hold up fine. This leads to a more consistent experience overall.
LEGO DC Super-Villains maintains a mildly disappointing performance because despite testing it on a PS4 Pro, the frame rate seemed like it was taking a beating during the split-screen co-op when there was plenty of action on the screen. There is a limitation to split-screen co-op due to rendering two different views, but at least on a higher level hardware, this shouldn’t be a problem. As a whole, the LEGO series needs innovating soon because, despite the more polished visuals now, the conventional nature of its gameplay has already turned stale.
LEGO DC Super-Villains attempts to stay fresh by switching up the formula but it is still buried underneath a dated design. Nevertheless, it is a fun co-op adventure for kids that sticks closer to its LEGO roots. As a game based on the DC Universe, it is arguably one of the more extensive offerings recently.
LEGO DC Super-Villains Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Lego DC Super-Villains is a Lego-themed action-adventure video game developed by Traveller's Tales, which serves as a spin-off to the Lego Batman trilogy and the fourth instalment in the Lego DC franchise.
Final Score - 7.5/107.5/10
There is a lack of fresh gameplay elements in LEGO DC Super-Villains, but the story is genuinely funny and has its moments. The highlight is easily the character creator, which offers the players plenty of options to customize a new supervillain.