The scale of the threat in Lego Marvel matches the roster and the setting. It begins with the Silver Surfer scouting for, well, you know. Without giving too much away, his board is shattered into cosmic bricks, which become the MacGuffin that Loki and the cast of baddies are after in the story. As the heroes, the players have to find and reclaim the bricks before the villains get a hold of them, and before the Surfer's scouting mission develops into a much larger threat.
We've had the chance now to see two lengthy segments of the game in action. The first has Iron Man and the Hulk fighting against the Sandman in Grand Central Station and the streets of New York. The second has Thor, Human Torch, Wolverine, and Captain America venturing across the Rainbow Bridge to fight Loki and the frost giants in the halls of Asgard.
The mechanics are largely the same as in previous Lego games: the Hulk can move heavy objects, Spider-Man can use his webs to pull switches and levers, and Iron Man can select multiple targets with his missiles. Human Torch can melt ice, Thor can power up switches, and Loki can control NPCs and make the activate switches. Building kits, grabbing coins, and basically smashing everything you can see is pretty much par for the course for these games.
There are a few new tricks, of course. Captain America's shield can deflect weapons, which is useful in fights and solving puzzles. Spider-Man and Wolverine each have special sense powers that reveal new, hidden interactions in the environment. This is especially useful in fighting Loki, who has the power to create false copies of himself to confuse the heroes. By far, however, my favorite new power is the Wolverine is essentially invincible. Instead of exploding a flurry of pieces when he loses all his hearts, he just simply turns into an animated adamantium skeleton who just keeps fighting like normal. Mr. Fantastic turning into a teapot is also pretty good, I guess.
In all, you'll be able to play through 18 heroes in story mode, with the option to unlock many more for free play later. They'll be unlocked as they have been in recent games; some become available through the course of play, others you'll have to find and buy.
You'll find the new characters in the hub world, which is basically the Marvel version of Manhattan. You can wander around the streets, interacting with the civilians and cars that populate the word, or head off to any of a number of points of interest -- from the Raft to the Baxter Building to the Avengers' Mansion to Central Park. You can even visit the editor of the Daily Bugle to pick up specific challenges to complete across the city. If you look especially hard, you might even find Deadpool's private room, where you can find the comic book viewer.
There's loads more to discover with Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and we'll be digging in to even more details when we see the game at E3. Be sure to check back then for updated impressions.