For the last 23 years, TT Games has been making all manner of games full of studs, bricks and other Danish building blocks. The LEGO series, in its many forms, has hardly been a bastion of consistent innovation but has always offered a fun and safe place for some light platforming and basic combat. LEGO DC Super-Villains doesn’t break this tradition - with only a handful of ‘new’ changes - but that doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable entry regardless.
Considering this is technically the fourth instalment in the DC Comics-based series, you’d think another game involving Gotham, the Joker and the Bat Family would fall into the same predictable story beats. But, as its name suggests, this game is all about the big bads and it’s 100 percent better for it. With some familiar voices from across the years lending their instantly recognisable tones - including Mark Hamill’s incomparable Joker and Michael Ironside’s booming Darkseid - it’s already off to an authentic start.
Even the likes of Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Michael Rosenbaum (The Flash) are here (but you’ll blink and you’ll miss them). With the dastardly Justice Syndicate arriving from Earth-3 and seemingly beaming the Justice League to their own dimension, the Legion of Doom suddenly finds itself having to gather together its most powerful members and potentially perform some uncharacteristically heroic deeds.
The result is the chance to play as a rogues' gallery of characters we’ve always fought from the other side, and it makes for an eclectic new roster. Clayface can change his shape to mimic other powers or pose as another character in order to gain access to new areas, the Joker can recruit goons to perform unique tasks and Reverse Flash can enter the 'Speed Force' to create super-builds in spectacular fashion.
However, the ability to create your own character is now placed centre stage, enabling you to design and customise your own infamous baddie and personalise everything from their costume right through to the colour of their powers. Your character is mute, in true classic LEGO game fashion, but as you progress you’ll gradually unlock more and more abilities that will make your unique villain a force to be reckoned with.
Custom character building has been present in the series for years, but it’s always been tacked onto the side as an added - but ultimately pointless - extra. Here, TT Games takes full advantage of the concept by periodically unlocking new pieces for your mini-fig as you complete each of its 15-plus levels. You can personalise your avatar at any time from the menus, including the power to take on super-speed (complete with a jittery idle animation) and an enemy-clearing slam attack.
Despite having such an impressive roster of bad guys to unlock (there are over 80 in total) and utilise, don’t expect a story that sees them embrace their villainy to their full potential. This is no DCEU-esque Suicide Squad spin-off. It’s a shame that TT Games hasn’t attempted to at least incorporate a little more bad guy activities into the mix; there are races to complete and things to vandalise, but this is a LEGO game after all, so sugar-coated naughtiness is the order of the day. It seems almost a waste that you're being the bad guy but can't entirely indulge your truly wicked side.
The Switch version happens to be one of the best ports the multi-platform series has produced yet. Once again, you’re getting access to the full version of the game playable elsewhere, with high-quality assets (you barely notice the jagged edges and occasional use of blurring), dynamic lighting and very little slowdown. There are also some relatively short loading times overall, which is a pleasant surprise considering how big the central hubs are. It runs consistently well in both docked and undocked modes, so need to worry about a drop in performance if you’re collecting studs on the go.
There’s also support for drop-in/drop-out co-op - as is custom with the series by now - so you can split your Joy-Cons or grab an extra Pro Controller for some team-based action. Using co-op can get a little hectic when in tabletop mode, so we found sticking to the TV is the best way to play with a friend.
As you’d expect, LEGO DC Super-Villains doesn’t make many attempts to change up the formula that’s served it so well for so long, but with a vast library of well-applied and famous baddies to draw from it offers a far more engaging and memorable story than the stretched-too-thin LEGO The Incredibles. However, with a brilliant cast on hand (can anyone really compare to Hamill’s Joker?), a vast sandbox hub and all the customisation options you could want in Danish brick form, this familiar playground still has bags of charm.