I’ve always found the Lego games to be hit or miss, a franchise never quite hitting the mark; sometimes doing well, sometimes a dull as dirty dishwater. Most of them are made fairly well, with small improvements manifesting every few games. However, the series still has some nagging issues that continue to plague it and Lego Movie doesn’t really break with the tradition, it has a few decent ideas in it, and covers the source material well, but the old issues do rear their head from time to time which can spoil some of the fun.
First and foremost, I’ll try to avoid any spoilers on the movie. But it has to be said, if you’re even considering this game, I’d say you need to watch the movie first. If you come away enjoying the movie, you’ll enjoy the game (for a set period of time at least) since all of the charm comes from the movie premise and the cast of characters. The game itself simply follows the same arc, including some shortened footage of the movie to string together a leaner version of the story.
There are 15 levels to explore in the game. Characters, per the norm, have different skills which you can use to solve the various puzzles you encounter. Emmet has a drill that he can use for destroying specific walls, but also a wrench he can use to repair certain machines and can use Construction plans. Wyldstyle can jump higher, swing on poles and has Master Builder powers. Batman can use his grapple to pull things, scale some buildings, and throw batarangs. Vitruvius can walk on narrow ledges and isn’t afraid of heights (most characters are), and also has Master Builder powers.
Unlike recent LEGO franchise games (such as LEGO Marvel Heroes), you are not given an open city to roam around in. Generally speaking, you’re given a free-roam area matching the theme of your most recent mission that is fairly small. With five distinctive sets, one in each of the plot’s major worlds, you can unlock extra characters, game modifiers that alter things like the value of collected pegs or increased health, and of course money from smashing everything in sight. Also much like LEGO Marvel Heroes, the same impassable barriers exist throughout both modes, requiring you to progress through the game before returning to unlock these areas. A perfect example would be golden doors – you need to have a character that shoots lasers. None of these are provided until you’ve progressed to near the end of the game, and even one that can be purchased won’t appear until you’re at the ¾ mark.
I’d like to say there is nothing wrong with the game but as I mentioned before, the same issues plague this title as they did the previous one. I can think of more than five occurrences where one of my characters was stuck and could not move. Returning to the main menu was the only fix for this. Given the years of experience that the LEGO game developer Tt Games now has with this franchise, LEGO game engines and the lack of open-world exploration in this particular title, I would have expected clipping issues to not hinder a game where the presentation was by no means pushing any boundaries.
Things like camera issues, bad vehicle controls, too many nothing characters, and no online play make me question if Tt Games realise its 2014. To my knowledge, none of the Lego games have had online play, which is baffling because they’ve all been tailor made to be co-op games. You can say that they are meant for kids, and that is somewhat accurate, but adults play them also, and the series stubborn refusal to ever go online is a big hindrance when the most of us now live our lives via the WWW.
The game is also not particularly stable, which is also sadly somewhat par for the course with these Lego games. I fell through the level geometry At one stage causing the camera to heavily freak out on me and cause a dizzy headache. Also, fire, and the character of MetalBeard tend to drag the game’s framerate down quite a bit. MetalBeard can fire rockets which explode, and if there is a lot going onscreen, the framerate turns nasty.
It wasn’t all bad and there were some moments in the game that felt inspired, such as Benny’s hacking mini-game which amounts to a LEGO Pac-Man variant, or Emmet’s building minigame where you use the wheel to select the missing piece as he builds a LEGO kit (he does follow instructions, after all). But unfortunately as is the way, the game dragged on and these elements became less-and-less fun, and the puzzle solving more tedious.
I didn’t experience any problems with the graphics, but then that’s not necessarily a good thing. Every now and then the game would decide to hang up on itself and freeze, but nothing that could be classed as game breaking. There was nothing to say that this game is next generation at all. I appreciate the availability of the game on all platforms, however at full retail price it stings knowing that there are other games available which offer more for the same price. Thief, Titanfall and other such similar games.
As the game started off, I was initially OK with the fact we were reliving The Special’s adventure from the movie, as the first few levels offer a ‘between the movie scenes’ moment. The game itself kept a pace and direction that felt like its take on the plot would yield some new laughs – unfortunately as it dragged on, it didn’t deliver. As the story continued it brought no real content to the already-complete theatrical presentation. If you skipped the film entirely perhaps some of the gags could have been funnier, but even Bad Cop’s chair-kicking required the film to appreciate. By the time I finished the main story I found no real pull to go back, even though there are a number of collectibles.
Sadly, LEGO The Movie Videogame fails to live up to the expectations set by both its source material and its video gaming forebears. A few inspired moments of gameplay give way to a bland-ness, while lacking any real substance to provide reason to revisit. Long loading times, last-gen caliber graphics and moments where bugs stop gameplay underline the lack of attention.
Thank you to Xbox for providing thisisxbox.com with the review code.
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