Republished on Wednesday, 1st December, 2021: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of December 2021's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
The latest in the long line of LEGO titles is indeed more of the same, but for all the right reasons. LEGO DC Super-Villains exhibits all the same brick-based goodness as its predecessors, especially that showcased in more recent releases like LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The game is teeming with iconic DC locations to explore, an army of bad guys to play as, and has turned the typical hero/villain formula on its head, making for a truly riveting tale.
The story depicts the battle between countless villains from the DC universe and newfound "heroes", the Justice Syndicate. This original narrative, collaboratively written with DC Comics, is lined with oodles of LEGO-esque humour and rounded off with tremendous casting. It’s almost spine-chilling hearing the Joker’s infamous cackle courtesy of Mark Hamill. The game’s intriguing story missions are riddled with all means of puzzles and challenges, ensuring each level feels fresh and unique as opposed to uniform and predictable.
These games are renowned for the sheer number of characters you have at your disposal, and LEGO DC Super-Villains is no exception. For once, players are granted the luxury of experiencing the flip side of the coin, taking on the role of wrong-doers and committing dastardly deeds. Each villain you take control of is made unique with their own appropriate animations and special moves to make unleashing carnage as gratifying with one character as it is the next. Livewire will levitate with electricity and dish out deadly static blasts, while Harley Quinn will glide through levels in a fluid skate animation, lugging her hammer over her shoulder. However, wreaking havoc as a baddie isn’t the only novelty.
For the first time in a LEGO game, your own fully customisable character is at the heart of it. Branded the "rookie", your mischievous little creation can be altered from head to toe, truly putting your personal stamp on the story. Furthermore, the horizons of customisation only expand as you play. As the story unravels, your character will absorb new powers, including beams which can be altered in colour and effect alike.
Fortunately, Travellers Tales has fabricated a remarkable balance, as breaking up an endearing story are free roam sections that offer players a sense of liberty. Gotham City, Metropolis and countless other DC locations have been re-imagined with a LEGO twist and are chock-full of challenges to complete and secrets to find, which can all be tracked on your trusty mobile.
In more extensive open-world sections such as Gotham, you can traverse your environments with haste by summoning a hot ride to your side. Leave a trail of bricks in your wake in a police car, or build Robin’s Bike to zoom through a race in need of completion. There’s an ensemble of vehicles to account for your impish needs that’ll save you the hassle of tirelessly trudging through more sizeable settings.
Even post-story there’s plenty to do, as revisiting areas in free play allows you to tie up unnumbered loose ends. Proceeding with the story will see you unlock villains you’ve encountered along the way. Returning to old story missions or exploring the nooks and crannies of free-roam sections more thoroughly with these new additions permits access to once inaccessible collectables. It pays to backtrack with a wider assortment of villain dependant abilities at your dispense if you're striving for 100% completion.
LEGO DC Super-Villains is perhaps the best LEGO game to date. Tread the unfamiliar waters of villainy in a compelling tale that is full of vibrant, trademark LEGO charm and topped off with fabulous voice acting — long gone are the days of grunts and muffled movie clips. Enjoy more of the same stellar LEGO-style gameplay from the perspective of a diverse range of villains, each unique and fun to play. Seeing a fully customisable character at the forefront of the story that can be enjoyed both co-op and solo sets a real milestone for the franchise while further accentuating the creativity of this LEGO title. Honestly, being bad has never felt so good.