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LEGO DC Super-Villains

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: TT Games
Release Date: Oct. 16, 2018

About David Silbert

I'm a recent college graduate from Boston, MA. When I'm not writing for WorthPlaying, I'm probably researching Celtics trade rumors or struggling to keep up with the growing library on my Nintendo Switch.


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Xbox One Review - 'LEGO DC Super-Villains'

by David Silbert on Nov. 12, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Embark on an all-new LEGO adventure by becoming the best villain the universe has seen in LEGO DC Super-Villains.

Buy LEGO DC Super-Villains

Good superhero games are hard to find. While studios like Insomniac, NetherRealm and Rocksteady, have made impressive forays into the worlds of DC and Marvel with franchises like Spider-Man, Injustice, and Batman: Arkham, respectively, these games only serve to highlight the sparse landscape when it comes to worthwhile comic-book games (remember Superman 64?).

As scarce as superhero games have been over the years, good super-villain games are even scarcer. Despite the detailed backstories that famous criminal masterminds like Doc Ock, Joker, Lex Luthor, Magneto and Thanos have received over years of comic-book history, they have largely been relegated to playing the antagonist next to their glossier, more popular hero protagonists.

LEGO DC Super-Villains, the most recent entry in a long-running series of licensed LEGO games, provides a remedy to this by putting the villains in the front seat. Taking control of famous criminals and anti-heroes from across the DC universe — including Catwoman, Joker, Harley Quinn and Scarecrow — players are tasked with protecting the sprawling cities of Gotham City and Metropolis from the nefarious "Justice Syndicate," either solo or cooperatively with a friend.

Equal parts open-world game and linear action game, LEGO DC Super-Villains offers some fun thrills thanks to its entertaining story mode, bountiful side content, and nuanced character creator. Its core gameplay hasn't evolved much from past LEGO games, and the game lacks a bit of direction, especially when it comes to navigating the open world, but LEGO DC Super-Villains is a fun time for those looking for a mild-mannered co-op game that appeals to a younger audience.

LEGO DC Super-Villains begins with Commissioner Gordon coordinating the delivery of a powerful new villain from Gotham to a prison in Metropolis. In predictable Gotham City fashion, Harley, Joker, and other villains arrive, the prisoner is freed, and Batman and the rest of the Justice League are called upon to save the day. Unfortunately, this time around, the Justice League is defeated and whisked away before Harley's eyes by an alternate-reality group of supposed heroes known as the Justice Syndicate. After the Justice Syndicate proclaim to be Gotham's protectors in the Justice League's "absence," Catwoman, Harley, Joker, and other iconic DC super-villains team up to defeat this new group of rival villains encroaching on their turf.

Those looking for a darker, more mature story based on these villainous characters may be initially put off by LEGO DC Super-Villains' narrative. The story is far less of a dark, gritty, Suicide Squad-esque tale than it is a humorous, lighthearted celebration of DC's past and present. The game shares much of the same charm as the LEGO games that have come before it, including flashy cut scenes, a colorful cast of characters, and plenty of wholesome humor to put a smile on players' faces. While this is to be expected — as fun as they are for adults, Lego games are ultimately aimed at children, after all — one can't help but wonder what a true antihero game based in the DC universe might look like.

At the same time, however, LEGO DC Super-Villains' cheery take on Harley, Joker, and the gang is surprisingly endearing. The list of characters on display is impressive, from the aforementioned villains to a myriad of other classic characters, including General Zod, Heatwave, Penguin, Two Face, and Solomon Grundy. The story moves at a brisk pace, and the sheer scope of having 100-plus playable characters at your fingertips is enough to outweigh any qualms I had about the lack of a serious plot or groundbreaking narrative.

Gameplay is broken up largely into two distinct segments: story levels and free roam. Story levels accompany the main story, tasking players with objectives such as breaking out of Stryker's Island, raiding the Gotham City Police Department for weapons, and exploring S.T.A.R. Labs for a lead on the Justice Syndicate. Meanwhile, free roam lets players loose on the game's open world — comprised of Gotham City, Metropolis, and surrounding areas — with plenty of side objectives to complete and secrets to find.

The mix of linear and free-form gameplay is one of LEGO DC Super-Villains' greatest strengths. While combat hasn't evolved much from the earliest LEGO games, LEGO DC Super-Villains differentiates itself from past games thanks to the sheer variety of gameplay it has to offer. Characters can be swapped out on the fly — either between a small subset of characters during a story mission or between all unlocked characters in free roam — each with their own move sets and abilities. Lex Luthor fires lasers, hovers in the air, and propels himself around the map, while Joker fights hand-to-hand, throws timed explosives, and sprays explosive gel to gain access to inaccessible areas. Other characters have super speed, others can glide using capes, and others can outright fly — by far my favorite ability of the bunch. Better yet, by completing story missions and doing various side tasks around the map, players can unlock new characters to add to their arsenal, including — despite the title of the game — a fair amount of superheroes, such as Batgirl, Batman, Nightwing and Superman.

One of the best ways in which LEGO DC Super-Villains capitalizes on this variety is with its robust character creator. At the outset of the game, players create an avatar — referred to as the "Rookie" by the rest of the cast — which takes the role of the up-and-coming villain who is broken out of prison during the first level of the campaign. Players are able to customize the Rookie to their heart's content, including facial features, special effects, and superpowers. My initial character was a samurai with dual swords (one red, one black), super speed, and a golden hand that projects blue lightning. Bolstered by plenty of additional moves and features to unlock throughout the course of the game, LEGO DC Super-Villains' character creator is a terrific feature that is bound to please a lot of DC fans looking to craft the perfect super-villain.

The sheer scope and variety highlighted with LEGO DC Super-Villains' character cast and avatar creator also carry over to the mission structure. The title offers an impressive amount of content for players looking to see and do everything around Gotham and Metropolis, including collect-a-thons, puzzles, races, and various other distractions. Though the main campaign can be completed in a few hours, the playtime can easily stretch into tens of hours for those looking to complete every objective, find every collectible, and unlock every character.

Unfortunately, the size of the game also means that getting from one objective to the next objective can be difficult, especially due to the wonky hint system. While the game often does a good job of pointing players in the right direction with mission markers and in-game hint displays, I found myself getting stuck on several occasions when the game refused to recommend an unlocked character I needed to proceed in the main story, leaving me scratching my head in frustration. At other times, the hints had a habit of popping up and flashing on the HUD even when I wasn't in need of assistance, which I found distracting and detrimental to the overall experience. Thankfully, the game gives you the option to turn off in-game hints at any time within the options menu.

It would be remiss of me not to mention LEGO DC Super-Villains' absolutely phenomenal presentation, particularly in the audio department. While the visuals are great, both from a technical and artistic perspective, the game really shines thanks to its impressive voice work — including strong performances from Mark Hamill as the Joker and Tara Strong as Harley Quinn — and its outstanding music. The soundtrack is a terrific mix of different genres, from moody, atmospheric jazz and noir-inspired tracks when walking the streets of Gotham, to brass-heavy, sweeping orchestral pieces when flying through Metropolis and beautiful, serene tracks that feel straight out of a JRPG when exploring the rural areas of Smallville. The game is an absolute treat for the ears, from beginning to end.

LEGO DC Super-Villains offers a lot of great things to like, despite my small quibbles. The title makes up for redundant core gameplay with its sheer variety of playable characters, robust character creation suite, and abundance of side content to complete. Meanwhile, its relatively by-the-books story is bolstered by phenomenal voice acting and classic LEGO charm. It may not be the mature, gritty super-villains game that many would like, but LEGO DC Super-Villains is still worth your time and money.

Score: 8.5/10

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