E3 2018: Lego DC Super-Villains stays true to its satire

WB Games
WB Games /

Anything is possible when you have Lego bricks to build your way to safety, and that rings true for the Lego DC Super-Villains in our E3 2018 preview.

I’ll be honest; I never got into the Lego series of video games. It’s not like I lived in a Mega Bloks household or anything; it’s just that there wasn’t that intriguing of a gameplay loop present and I was already an adult by the time the series became popular. That made my Lego DC Super-Villains preview time at E3 2018 interesting; I didn’t know what to do at first!

The stress of getting Dean Takahashi’d is always prevalent when trying out video games in a professional setting, so the unfamiliarity with the franchise put me on edge. Thankfully, the game cuts right through that with some self-aware satire on the role of superheroes and villains, setting the player up to create their own avatar of villainy.

Even with limitations at the start of the game, the level of character creation options is striking. Not only can you customize your clothes, accessories and facial appearance, but also your weapon loadout to include staves, guns, swords and more. It helps to build the immersion and give your created villain a backstory if that’s your kind of thing.

Our preview starts at the beginning of the Lego DC Super-Villains story, as Commissioner Gordon brings in the expertise of Lex Luthor in dealing with the new villain threat. That’s just moments before he and the Gotham City Police Department are thwarted by the likes of Mercy, setting the three up to break out and escape.

There’s not much new to talk about when it comes to gameplay features. You do the same third-person action inputs as the dozens of other licensed properties in the franchise, have infinite opportunities to do so while using your party’s abilities to solve environmental puzzles. Often, the solution involves holding “B” to reconstruct a Lego device needed to transport your party to the next series.

No, it’s the interactions with characters in the DC Universe that will draw younger audiences to the game. Not only do you get reliably strong performances from the likes of Lex Luthor and other villains, but the Justice League led by Superman as the “opposition” presents a fun narrative dynamic. The satire pokes fun at the superheroes that are usually propped up while playing into the more comic sensibilities of super-villains like The Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill).

LEGO DC Super-Villains characters
WB Games /

What it did was strike the right tonal balance for this game. Switching between characters is seamless and necessary to progress through the story, and it never felt like it was betraying the nature of the characters or the feel for the narrative. Plus, it fed into natural banter with the likes of Harley and The Joker, which is always great.

Though it’s been a series constant, I’m still not over how most of the game’s puzzle-solving moments include “destroy things to get Lego pieces to build unknown object to get you moving.” It’s always cute to see how the creators flip the script and create silly answers, but it becomes droll to have a button input essentially serve as a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

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After coming home and checking out other licensed games from the library, I don’t expect the full title to reinvent the wheel. Lego DC Super-Villains sticks to its formula but explores new territory with its story, essentially not breaking what doesn’t need to be fixed. Whether or not you or your family should look forward to this game depends on your appreciation of the Lego video game style and the DC villains themselves.