Posted on February 21, 2014 AT 12:45pm
At first look, The LEGO Movie Videogame seems like more of the same.
Characters run around smashing stuff, collecting LEGO Studs, solving puzzles, and building objects. As a game based on a movie based on a line of toys, you might think the whole thing reeks of a cash-in.
But it doesn’t.
As in the movie, the star of the game is Emmet Brickowski, a common construction worker who gets wrapped up in an epic adventure spanning many of the LEGO worlds. The concept is actually as meta as they come. The world of The LEGO Movie is constructed out of LEGOs, and by all appearances, everyone knows it.
This leads to the first major change from other LEGO games—here, everything is made out of LEGOs. The game doesn’t include any realistic backgrounds; instead, bricks abound. It’s an interesting aesthetic, and it’s one that works surprisingly well. The plastic world shines in a way previous games couldn’t, and the look even adds to the humor, since just seeing things like water made of LEGOs is quite funny.
Dig deeper, and you’ll find some other major differences. Regular characters can only build objects with an instruction book, like the ones that come in a LEGO set. In order to construct something, Emmet must find the instructions (usually split into two or three pieces and scattered), go to the designated spot, and build there. This is done through a minigame that sees you choosing missing pieces off a radial menu. If you’re fast enough, you’ll get a nice Stud bonus; making mistakes or going too slow costs you that bonus.
Some characters, however, are Master Builders—those with the imagination to build things without instructions. These are the only ones who can assemble those bouncing piles of bricks that sometimes appear when you break surrounding objects. Additionally, they can also uncover special building spots where you stand in a circle and highlight several surrounding objects. Once these are selected, the Master Builder will go on a spree, deconstructing and constructing some truly impressive models. These sequences make cooperation (or, for solo players, switching between characters) more necessary than ever, and it really adds to the fun.
Of course, during the story your party will always include the necessary characters to advance. However, levels are still scattered with specific optional goals that you’ll need specific types of Minifigs to bypass. This makes it necessary to revisit areas in Free Play mode to unlock all of the game’s secrets.
Graphically, The LEGO Movie Videogame stands out from previous entries in the series. Instead of having the destructible objects made from LEGOs while everything else is smoothly rendered, here everything is constructed from the ubiquitous bricks. It gives the game a different feel and a striking appearance, particularly on new-generation consoles where the whole thing feels like you’re playing inside the movie.
Another particular high point is the voice acting, which offers all the humor from the movie. Personally, I’ve always wanted to play Morgan Freeman in a game (at least since my idea for a Shawshank Redemption RPG was rejected by all major game publishers), and doing so now makes me want to let loose with a happy dance.
A few minor issues mar the experience at times. The first problem is the story: It mirrors the movie, but the tale isn’t told nearly as well here. It comes off very disjointed and leaves big gaps that need explanation. Players would do well to see the movie first, both to avoid spoilers and to get a better idea of what’s going on.
Also, while the camera is improved from the previous LEGO games, it still manages to find the worst possible angle at the worst possible times. This leads to some awkward jumps that sometimes result in death (and a loss of precious studs). Overall, though, these are minor quibbles for a game that’s just a blast to play.
Ultimately, The LEGO Movie Videogame is a major progression for the series. While building things with instructions, and through special building spots, might seem like minor additions, they actually add a nice variety to the gameplay and the overall pacing. Unlike some of the other LEGO games—particularly the early ones—I never felt stuck in a loop of smash, collect, repeat. TT Games has done a fantastic job of injecting new life into its tried-and-true formula, making The LEGO Movie Videogame one of the series’ high points.
|Developer: TT Games • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: E10+ – Everyone 10 and up • Release Date: 02.07.14|
Another smash-and-collect game featuring everyone’s favorite building toy. This time around, it’s based on the new animated movie and offers many of the hilarious characters fresh off the screen. A little bit of fresh gameplay livens up this entry, but a few story and camera problems hamper the experience somewhat. Ultimately, The LEGO Movie Videogame is great fun and perfect for fans of the fantastic plastic.
|The Good||Offers polished gameplay with more variety than most recent LEGO titles.|
|The Bad||Choppy storytelling that could certainly have been avoided.|
|The Ugly||Everything is awesome…except getting that song out of your head!|
|The LEGO Movie Videogame is available on Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U, 3DS, and PS Vita. Primary version reviewed was a retail copy provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Xbox One.|
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