Fans who stopped by the Marvel booth at New York Comic Con got an early look at "LEGO Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron," the latest in developer Traveler's Tales' series of games recreating the characters and events of popular movies in the LEGO style. Based loosely on the first two "Avengers" films, the new LEGO game includes more than 200 characters from comics, television, and other Marvel movies. Game director Arthur Parsons spoke with Comic Book Resources as we played through the brief demo.
While the full game will allow players to explore open-world environments including Manhattan; Washington, DC; Malibu; and Asgard, the demo was restricted to a scene from the Battle of New York, Part 1. Players can switch on the fly between Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye -- Thor, as a flyer, proved particularly useful for his ability to float over obstacles and shoot enemies out of the sky, and bringing Mjolnir down on parked LEGO cars was satisfying, in that way that needless destruction in video games so often is.
In addition to hitting the major action scenes from "Avengers" and "Age of Ultron," Parson told CBR that the game will cherrypick elements from many other Marvel movies and comics. "There's content in there from 'Iron Man 3,' 'Captain America: Winter Soldier,' 'The First Avenger' and also 'Thor: Darkworld.' And then again, comic book content and TV content."
Although the demo only spotlighted the core movie team, Parsons emphasized the broad array of characters available in the finished game. "There's comic book characters that are current, like Young Avengers Hulkling, Wiccan... you've got Amadeus Cho, Jane Foster-Thor, America Chavezm-- we've got Kamala Khan in there," he said. "But we've also got classic characters, [like] Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy. We've even got Egghead in the game, Ry'lor the Destroyer... a load of characters. There's characters in there even I wasn't aware of and I had to go read about them. We've got characters that are referenced in the movies, like the Iron Monger from 'Iron Man 1.' The Defenders are in there, classic comic book Jessica Jones as well as Luke Cage. Just as many as we can. We're actually over 200 playable characters."
Some of these have alternate costumes, as well. "Take someone like Steve Rogers, who's got a new version of Cap. There's probably about 15 Iron Man armors in there, from classic Iron Man to 'Age of Ultron' [and,] I think, Superior Iron Man. You'll have Mandarin from 'Iron Man 3,' but also classic Mandarin.
"Each of the characters has unique abilities and unique mechanics. The first game we did had a lot of things that really pushed the LEGO games forward, and with 'Marvel's Avengers,' it's the same team [of developers]," Parsons continued. "What I've learned from the last two games, 'LEGO Marvel Superheroes' and 'LEGO Batman 3,' we're taking some of those things into this game and really trying to expand the roster."
The expanded cast not only has abilities unique to their character, but are able to trigger combination attacks depending on which Avengers the player has in the field. "'Avengers' is about assembling, teaming up, working together. So we've got advanced combat moves where you can team any Avenger up with any other, and they'll do smart moves," Parsons said. "The best way to describe it is, in the first 'Avengers,' where Iron Man grabs Hawkeye and whips him up the building. Teaming characters to solve puzzles and advance gameplay."
After having Thor target a cracked wall and bust through to a new area, the campaign continued with the Avengers charging up an Asgardian device to clear another area. It's clear even at this stage that certain characters are necessary to perform different tasks, adding to both the reward and challenge.
"The game encourages players to explore the wider reaches of the Marvel Universe and have fun with their favorite characters," Parsons enthused. "Some will obviously be more popular than others, but even someone like Agent Sitwell has fans. We just put as many characters as we could in there, but give them all unique looks, unique powers, unique abilities.
"Every character should be able to do exactly what you'd want them to do," he continued. "If you're playing Bruce Banner, you want to be able to transform into the Hulk; if you're playing Gorilla Girl, you want her to be able to transform as well. That's where the game comes into its own, is bringing these characters to life in all these different ways."
Though the "Avengers" films have strong elements of humor, adapting them to the LEGO-verse requires a whole different approach to joke telling. However, that doesn't mean the developers can't stay true to the source material. "For us, what we try to do as much as we can, we are being as authentic as we can be while at the same time being silly and funny," Parsons said. "In that situation, there, we had this shot for shot, but then at the end of it, Hulk takes a selfie. That's what we try to focus on, making sure that we are fun and silly and goofy, but still being, probably, the most authentic Marvel game out there. Just because it's LEGO doesn't mean it can't be authentic. At the same time, we had loads and loads of fun with it. That's where you bring in your Stan Lee cameo, you bring in everything else. But you've got your iconic moments like here, where you've got the classic 'Avengers Assemble' moment -- you play the music."
"LEGO Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron" launches January 26 on PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PS Vita, and Nintendo 3DS.