Brick by brick, game by game, LEGO has really carved a niche for itself in the video game industry. Not only are they truly all-ages games, they also more often than not end up becoming the best game adaptations of the franchises they adapt.

Harmless fun...?

Harmless fun…?

LEGO Marvel Superheroes is no exception. Game developers are going to be hard pressed to exceed, or even match, just how awesome it is to rocket around LEGO New York City as Iron Man, or stretch into a giant screwdriver as Mr. Fantastic.

The gameplay is the same as every LEGO game before it: each character has two or three abilities and a cast of several characters is allotted to the player to punch and puzzle-solve their way through each level while collecting all manner of LEGO studs and kits. But it isn’t the years-old gameplay that makes LEGO Marvel shine, it’s the adventurous portrayal of the Marvel Universe.

Those who accuse Man of Steel of taking itself far too seriously should find much to enjoy in LEGOs take on the heroes and villains of Marvel. I had quite a few laughs over the course of the main story, without every feeling like the game had become overly slapstick or dumb. LEGO Marvel Superheroes is a game that kids will find hilarious, without their parents thinking it’s stupid. At least not until their kid has played it for a year straight.

Between the main story, the ability to replay any level with the character of your choosing and a roster of around 100 characters to unlock the game offers no shortage of play. There’s even a sizable open-world LEGO New York City to explore filled to the brim with side quests, puzzles and unlockable. A relatively new addition to the LEGO video game franchise, open-world exploration is one of LEGO Marvel Superheroes best features.

And it’s vile, seedy underbelly.

Captain America. The Human Torch. Wolverine. All murderers in the hands of your insane kid.

Captain America. The Human Torch. Wolverine. All murderers in the hands of your insane kid.

LEGO New York is full of hustling, bustling LEGO citizens going about their LEGO lives while I fly through the LEGO sky as Iron Man. That is, until I land and “accidentally” press the button for lethal-wrist-laser, scattering heads, limbs and torsos across the pavement with a cheery pop. I can slice and dice fools with the Adamantium claws of Wolverine, smash them into oblivion as a roid-raging Venom or just straight up shoot them as Hawkeye.

Hell, I can even steel their cars using the same exact controls I would use to do so in Grand Theft Auto V. Sure, the citizens mutter some nonsense about “superhero business, I understand” under their breath, but approval or not their cars and lives are mine for the taking.

Do you ever have to beat up bystanders or steel their cars? No. Does the game at all influence you to do so? Never.

But the ability is there.

Does this mean LEGO Marvel Superheroes should be ripped from your child’s console and rated M for gore and cartoon mayhem?

No. In fact, I would argue exactly the opposite. There isn’t a more appropriate game for a child to play. After all, how else are you going to know if your kid is a ferocious sociopath?

LEGO Marvel Superheroes it the perfect litmus test for your tike’s violent tendencies: it’s a child-friendly game (and a good one at that) and it doesn’t coax the player into harming innocent people. But should the urge in your kid’s black heart, the game sure isn’t going to stop them.

Your kid could play the entire game without harming a single New Yorker. Or they could pound them into dust with massive green Hulk fists pretty much right off the bat.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes is an intriguing piece of evidence in the ongoing debate over videogame violence and its impression on players, but it will likely be overlooked because the only shotguns and hookers it contains are in your own psychotic imagination.

2013 Person of the Year.

2013 Person of the Year.

Also, it has Black Bolt in it! LEGO Black Bolt!

And some glitches.