This console generation has seen no shortage of superhero themed LEGO games, with the one that debuted on this generation, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, being of the best that developer TT Games have ever produced. Between the various flavors of Marvel, DC, the toys-to-life game LEGO Dimensions, even this past summer’s LEGO The Incredibles, it’s easy to make a case that TT should possibly look elsewhere for inspiration for fear of burning out their audience. But then a game like LEGO DC Super-Villains comes along and it reminds you why you love it when TT Games gets to play in the superhero sandbox. From its “best of” cast of voice actors, diverse and creative level design, packed to the brim open-world and a surprisingly fun insertion of a player created character into its campaign, this is the LEGO game DC fans have been waiting for and easily up there with TT’s best work yet.
When the Justice League mysteriously disappears, they’re replaced by a stand-in version of the team from another earth calling themselves the Justice Syndicate. After witnessing members of the Syndicate acting less heroic than what they appear to be, it’s up to the villains of the DC Universe like Lex Luthor, the Joker and a silent character able of absorbing powers referred only to as “The Rookie” to get to the bottom of things. The word “Super-Villains” may be in the title, but make no mistake, this is the LEGO DC equivalent of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes that players have been waiting for after the dedicated LEGO Batman games only teased such things. There’s barely a corner of the DC Universe that isn’t touched in the lengthy twenty level campaign, and while it’s still a family friendly LEGO title through and through, LEGO DC Super-Villains also happens to be one of the better DC Comics game ever produced.
A lot of what makes the story great is the writing, which will not only consistently keep a smile on your face, but also moves the plot to places like Gorilla City, Wonder Woman’s hidden island home of Themiscyra and the fiery home of Darkseid, Apokolips, and have it all make sense. Greatly helping matters is a greatest hits cast of returning actors like Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Tara Strong as Harley Quinn, Michael Ironside as Darkseid and fan favorites Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker respectively. Last year’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 suffered because its development fell during the SAG-AFTRA strike and it really goes to show how important talented actors are in making the humor found in these games hit. It’s always great to hear Hamill cackling his way through his lines, but it’s Conroy who steals the show in the scenes that he’s in. Conroy isn’t playing LEGO Batman, he’s playing Batman, and it oddly works in the context of what you’re doing and makes this feel like more of a DC Universe game and not just another LEGO game.
What makes this LEGO game different from the ones that came before it is now you play a large part in the story via a character you create the second you start the story. Initially, it feels like a rough way to start the game as the appeal of playing a DC themed game – especially a LEGO one – is being able to use your favorite heroes and villains. After going through the various outfits you can pick from though, it doesn’t take long for you to fall in love with how TT has handled character creation, a feature that has always been in these games, this time around. Seeing a hyper fast, sombrero and butterfly wing wearing, squeaky voiced villain wielding an axe that fired energy was always hilarious, and it’s just one of countless variations your imagination can dream up. Your character evolves with new powers as the story unfolds, and while you’ll need other heroes and villains to help with puzzle solving, “The Rookie” is never brushed aside after you beat the opening vignette and you’ll be glad they aren’t.
Structurally if you’ve played a LEGO game, you have played LEGO DC Super-Villains as you’re doing a lot of the same things as you’ve done in other games of this type, namely smashing objects to build new ones in conjunction with using your team’s abilities to solve simple environmental puzzles. Things are shaken up somewhat though, as characters like the Joker are used differently than they have been in other games and you can hire a team of minions to do funny things like making a human ladder to cross gaps. The levels that make up the campaign are never too long, often requiring you to visit multiple locations within them and with a completely different team no less and it helps to stop things from every getting boring when combined with all the different environments you’re going to.
After completing the main game, there’s a massive open-world to explore that links places like Gotham City, Metropolis and Smallville together with an option to explore Apokolips via a teleporter in search of gold bricks as well as unlockable characters and vehicles. These missions are mercifully brief, and you can do a lot in a little amount of time and it makes LEGO DC Super-Villains a very relaxing, low-key game to explore. It often feels too big at times though, and sometimes just as you clear out an area of icons on your map, more will spring up. Optional challenges like having to collect a certain amount of items or destroy specific options in the open-world unfortunately return from LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, and while they’re made easier to manage thanks to hints in the pause menu that will give you clues to where things are, they’re just more things to manage on top of an already overwhelming list of activities.
Given all that you have to do in LEGO DC Super-Villains, you’ll be thankful about how refined this game is when compared to the rest of the LEGO catalog. Helpful features like the game auto-picking a character you need to activate something and a separate menu you can bring up to summon vehicles that eliminates the need for finding vehicle drop return, and if you need to activate a red brick cheat or go straight to the character customizer to alter your character’s appearance, such things are just a few button presses away in the pause menu. Other than a few instances where quests didn’t properly complete because an NCP didn’t go to the right spot, or having to wait for a prompt to start a mission, this is probably the most stable LEGO game ever built. With over twenty-five hours logged into the game between beating the story and clearing out most of the open-world, there were no crashes to speak of.
Even if you’re become burnt out on the LEGO formula, LEGO DC Super-Villains makes a strong case to come back and bash everyday objects to collect their stud filled inners, and that goes double if you’re a fan of DC Comics. From the writing, acting, clever use of the self-insert create-a-character and often at times overwhelming amount of stuff to do, LEGO DC Super-Villains is another terrific DC game in a generation that has already given us Batman: Arkham Knight and Injustice 2. Besides, you can’t play as a flying dog that can shoot heat rays out of his eyes in Red Dead Redemption 2, can you?
LEGO DC Super-Villains is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy purchased by the writer.
LEGO DC Super-Villains
- Funny dialogue delivered by a great cast
- Plenty of game to keep you occupied
- Interesting use of create-a-character
- Varied locations that touch on famous DC Comics landmarks
- Sheer amount of content can get overwhelming
- Not that much different from other LEGO games