Some may argue the DC Gallery of Villians are more iconic than their heroes.
A hell of statement, admittedly, when you’re going against the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. But, c’mon, who would want to bet against Joker, Harley Quinn, and Lex Luthor?
LEGO want to explore that question with their upcoming release, LEGO DC Super-Villains, finally giving a platform to the bad guys. I roamed around Gorilla City earlier this month on a PS4 Pro and came back really impressed with what I saw.
The Justice Syndicate are failing at their job, letting villains escape all the time whether it’s from Arkham or Starlabs. Ultimately, they just can’t fill the shoes of the Justice League, even though the majority of the media are painting an overly rosy picture of them.
More fool them, because my demo picked up in Gorilla City where the team of Luthor, Reverse Flash, Captain Cold, Cheetah, and Heat Wave are off to meet Grod at his palace. Clearly for some evil shenanigans.
Using teamwork, I had to force my way inside, focusing on the individual attributes of each character. Unsurprisingly, Reverse Flash is lightning fast and can whip around the map at unmatched pace.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor hovers around in his special suit, Cheetah pounces around on all fours, able to dig and climb, Captain Cold freezes stuff and Heat Wave – you guessed it – blows everything up.
Despite being a game about villains, the humor remains on-point with each character represented faithfully by both voice actors and animation. Reverse Flash runs around randomly, throwing bananas in the air while Cold is trying to cool down Cheetah’s coffee but gets’ slapped about before he gets the chance.
Luthor, meanwhile, tries to act sensibly, talking slowly and meticulously but ultimately coming across like a pompous buffoon.
Something I really liked about this demo is how different each character feels. The movement animations, every gesture, the way they fight, overall aesthetic, and how significant they are to solving the puzzles. Previous LEGO games have been guilty of not completely capturing the identity of the character they’re trying to represent but not so here.
For instance, Reverse Flash’s fighting style sees him run around every enemy so quickly, striking them so frequently that it can help kick off a combo, earning extra coins tallied up at the end of the level. While Captain Cold fires his cold beam at enemies from range and Heat Wave can pound them through the floor.
The first half of the demo sees you fight through Grods’ defenses and forces in order to reach the inner sanctum.
One puzzle has Luther scanning through a green wall to connect two points together by moving obstructing tiles out of the way. Another requires you to tilt a maze so you can drop a ball into a mechanism by hanging on one of two dangling cords.
While LEGO DC Super-Villains doesn’t dramatically change the formula you’ve come to know and love from previous LEGO titles, the gameplay stays fresh throughout and has been refined from years of experience.
This can also be seen in the graphical fidelity and the way models shine under beaming sunlight and their shadows bounce off the walls. You can see individual leaves on trees and an incredible attention to detail in cliff faces and flowing waterfalls. Even the physics of the water outmatch some of the quality you see in other AAA games.
The second half sees your team reluctantly go up against Solovar in a proper, honest to goodness boss battle where you can team up with Grodd to smash up the scenery, throw massive boulders and shoot bananas in a machine gun.
The sense of scale, variation, and time taken to down the boss is really impressive and a notable step up from previous LEGO games. This boss has several clear phases which you have to battle through, each one requiring a different strategy from the previous.
It’s just one level, so obviously you don’t get the full picture of what LEGO DC Super-Villains has to offer, but this is one of the most enjoyable LEGO experiences I’ve had in a few years. There are clear evolutions in design – both aesthetically and mechanically – and what’s more, there’s an original story bringing it all together.
This is shaping up to be one of the best LEGO games yet so make sure to look out for LEGO DC Super-Villains October 16th on almost every format ever.