Lego Marvel Super Heroes is, for the most part, plastic proof that familiarity works - providing a game still has the love and imagination to retain the excitement and fun of its core mechanics.
Said familiarity works both ways, of course. Lego Marvel Super Heroes does almost nothing to convert non-fans of the long-running franchise, but it takes huge strides to ensure that lovers of both Lego and every Marvel universe under the sun feel right at home. The series' mechanics have been improved and refined, but the real emphasis is on the setting and context to drive that sense of adventure.
It feels like a more accomplished effort right from the start. Marvel Super Heroes has the humour the series is known for, but pulls it off better than recent entries: by comparison, it feels like a breath of fresh air. The characters are, once again, fully voiced, and despite the obvious callbacks to Marvel lore, the game takes on an independent story of its own.
What's so good about this instalment is how it immediately throws together distinct Marvel universes. Where Batman 2 was rigid in its approach, you won't be playing long before Wolverine, Thor, Mr Fantastic and any one of the 100+ characters are battling it out. Every character feels unique in some way, no matter how small, and there's enough content here - from characters and suits to hidden items and levels - that seeing and doing everything is a huge, but always enjoyable commitment.
Familiarity does let Lego Marvel down here and there; it still features a locked camera, which detracts, and there's still no online co-op, for reasons I can't fathom. The flight controls are clunky, and the character switching is nonsensical, leaving several buttons seemingly perfect for the job completely unused, but none of these tarnish what is the strongest Lego title yet, and the best Marvel game ever made.
Version Tested: Xbox 360. Played for 15 hours.