- The Washington Times - Friday, February 12, 2016

Lego has been a wondrous part of pop-culture-themed video gaming for the past 11 years, tapping into such licenses as “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Lord of the Rings” and DC Comics superheroes.

The company’s latest collaboration with TT Games, Lego Marvel’s Avengers (Warner Bros. Interactive, reviewed on PlayStation 4, Rated E+10, $59.99) is a stud-collecting paradise delivering a content-rich, character-saturated homage to mainly the Marvel movie universe offering locations, plots, actual dialogue snippets from the actors and action tied to six films — “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” ” Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World.”

With guidance from the popular S.H.I.E.L.D agents Maria Hill and Phil Coulson, up to a pair of players go on missions and explore open-world environments while eventually controlling over 200 blocky minifigures representing Earth’s mightiest heroes and their adversaries, each with signature powers and team up attack abilities.

Some of the core members include Captain America (shield throwing and acrobatic assaults), The Hulk (wild smashing and super jumping), Black Widow (duel pistols and cloaking ability), Thor (hammer throwing, electrical bolts and flight) and perhaps my favorite, Iron Man (armor swapping, pulsar blasts, and flight).

Players smash and construct objects, solve puzzles, battle swarms of enemies and transverse environmental obstacle courses set in locations such as Asgard, New York City, Malibu, Barton Farms, Sokovia and S.H.I.E.L.D. bases.

Cartoony violence permeates throughout as characters beat or shoot each other until they explode into pieces. Frantic button mashing becomes an art form causing mass destruction in the Lego universe to accumulate the stud-shaped currency.

The sheer amount of story levels, free play levels to replay and collectibles to acquire will keep fans busy for many, many play sessions covering hours of enjoyment.

A sampling of action might involve Black Widow driving a vehicle to mop up oil so Captain America can land the Quinjet, having Steve Rogers monitor Marvel Comics patriarch Stan Lee while he rides an out-of-control running machine, or having Iron Man use a giant chainsaw to topple Thor from the top of a tree.

The collection of colorful characters even stretches deep into Marvel’s comic-book history that should delight older fans.

For examples of a few of the ridiculous amount of encounters with pop-art stars, a player can unlock Taskmaster (supervillain and associate of Deadpool, he first appeared in comics in 1980) by solving a pattern-matching puzzle.

Or unlock Moon Knight (imbued with powers of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, he first appeared in comics in 1975) by helping him find an informant.

Or, unlock Luke Cage (Hell’s Kitchen bruiser debuting in comic in 1972) by fighting alongside him against a horde of enemies,

Heck, even wield the power of a multistory evil dragon Fin Fang Foom (it first appeared in comics in 1961).

Suffice to report, TT Games has used a similar formula with its previous Lego game designs but Lego Marvel Avengers mixes the perfect amount of variety, humor and passion for source material to delight a superhero loving family.

Wait, still not enough? The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 version of the game includes a download for an additional nine characters from the upcoming movie “Captain America: Civil War” including Iron Man (Mark 46 armor), Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Falcon, War Machine and Crossbones.

PlayStation owners also get this spring 11 characters and a level from last year’s “Ant-Man” film featuring both version of the hero (Hank Pym and Scott Lang), Darren Cross, Yellowjacket and The Wasp.

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