Bionicle Heroes Review
Written : Saturday, April 19, 2008
By: Lee Abrahams (GT: jackanape)
Lego is, and always will be, ace. The infinite possibilities of what to create mean that you can literally build anything given the right supply of blocks and time. Though you may have long ago lost the instructions to that amazing castle, you can try to rebuild it from memory you’ll probably fail or run out of those key two piece blocks (there never seems to be just enough of those), but you’ll have a heck of a time doing it. The magic of Lego has been brought to life before by the popular, and rather good, Star Wars series of games which have provided a wonderful mix of fun game-play and charm. The Bionicle series of Lego is less about free form building and more about creating a set of heroes and villains to do battle, it’s proven very successful among the young folks of the world and has even spawned a number of best selling DVD tie-ins. Let’s see if these building block warriors can transfer their success to the world of gaming.
Travellers Tales are the team responsible for bringing the successful forays into the Lego Star Wars universe to life, so they have been similarly tasked with trying to convert the Bionicle franchise into a game for young and old to enjoy. Considering they only ever develop kid’s games then surely they must have gotten pretty good at it by now? The major problem here is that while almost everyone could appreciate the sly humour and in-jokes of Lego Star Wars because the series was universally well known, the same can’t be said of the Bionicle universe and this game does very little to introduce us to the universe and explain exactly what is going on.
Die you vicious Lego dog! Lego CAN be threatening.
The story is pretty much non-existent, which is puzzling considering the fact each Bionicle character (in DVD and toy form) has been given their own back story. Why those stories and rivalries couldn’t have been carried over into the game makes little sense. Basically an evil set of characters, the Piraka, have used the Mask of Life to turn creatures into evil Lego robots and it’s up to out hero to stop them by using the various abilities of a number of Toa masks. Like previous Lego games there is no dialogue to speak of with most of the action in the game and cut scenes displayed through actions and slapstick comedy. While this does add a certain levity, and is outright funny in places, it means that the plot is almost non-existent and you never learn anything about the characters' motivations. I know this is a game aimed solely at the younger audience but it wouldn’t have hurt to put in a basic story. You start in a central hub and can then access levels through various portals, with more levels opening up each time you complete an earlier one, it allows a certain amount of freedom but is still fairly linear.
Bionicle is easy to get to grips with and is basically a shooter with a few puzzle aspects thrown in to keep things interesting. As you progress through the game you will have access to six different Toa masks that you can switch between at will, each of them has differing strengths and weaknesses plus a unique special ability that will be necessary to advance through certain sections. For example, Kongu can leap over certain designated gaps while Jaller can walk over lava when required. They also come with a differing array of weapons and speeds, so the slow Nupara has an explosive grenade launcher while the speedier Hahli has a weaker but faster gun. There are only three varieties of enemy on offer though (excluding bosses) and they are all easy to destroy so your choice of weapon often seems irrelevant as you can just wade in with anything and destroy everything within seconds. Also if you do run out of energy you only lose control of the mask that you had on at the time, so when you have all six you effectively have six lives. Finding a new copy of the mask that was damaged will reactivate it for use again, alternatively such masks will provide healing if you are fully stocked.
I’m also available as lighting for discos.
As with other Lego games the destruction of enemies and scenery will spew forth a bunch of Lego bricks that you can collect. Pick up a certain amount and you will enter ‘Hero’ mode which turns your character golden and allows you to dish out more damage. Sadly this means you will spend most of the game grabbing just enough bricks to activate hero mode and then run amok, so the fact that you are invincible makes the challenge almost non-existent. The only time you might struggle is when you are facing off against the bosses but even they can be overcome easily if you take your time. The bricks can also be used in the central hub to buy bonus features and upgrade your character. Other collectables on offer come in the form of gold and silver canisters that unlock items for you to view and use, but these are mainly hidden in optional areas and aren’t required for any purpose other than completions sake. When you do beat certain bosses you can also use their powers to go back to certain previously blocked areas if you simply must get all of the cannisters available.
You’ll have to use all of the abilities at your disposal in order to make it through to the end of the game but the puzzles on offer are never too taxing and areas are always marked with the required Toa masks anyway so the game spells out how to solve each puzzle. All of the puzzles on offer are almost pointlessly simple and often just require you to construct a few Lego blocks or use one of the various abilities to bypass an obstacle. Certain areas are blocked by golden constructs that can only be bypassed if you are in Hero mode, and as well as furthering your progress these golden constructs will also cancel hero mode instantly open their completion. So it’s usually wise to clear out an area before using up your Hero powers to move on with the game. It’s also annoying that every boss battle follows the same formula; kill a bunch of drones, turn into hero mode, build gold construct, repeat. Surely they could have been more imaginative.
Bug exterminators unveil their latest weapon.
For some people the graphics will seem strange at first, as the only things made of Lego seem to be the main characters and a few bits of scenery. The locations themselves aren’t Lego based at all, though this does stay true to the Bionicle story as depicted on TV and DVD it still seems oddly jarring that a Lego game has so little Lego actually in it. The viewpoint is also a very odd choice as the camera is fixed over the shoulder of your character, who seems to take up a large chunk of the screen and often seems to be in the way. Having your own body block your view of oncoming enemies can lead to frustration, but the difficulty level is pitched so low that it won’t really lead to your doom. While everything seems suitably fun you can’t help but feel like the game is just another generic shooter that just happens to have Lego characters, rather than being based around the Bionicle world.
The achievements on offer are painfully easy and devoid of ideas as you’ll grab points for getting a certain number of kills with each character and for completing each level, as well as for dispatching large numbers of each generic foe. There are also the obligatory achievements for nabbing a large amount of Lego bricks and you may need to replay a few levels to grab as many as you can. The most annoying achievement comes in the form of getting 100% completion as you will first have to complete the game to get the secret character required to revisit certain areas and grab all of the canisters that you were previously denied access to. The game is pretty short and easy but there is just no way you will ever have the desire to play through it more than once, so the fact that it forces you to do so is a major chore. Still even this shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to do if you have the will to persevere so 1000 points should only be a matter of time.
Bog standard sound effects and characters that tend to communicate through the art of mime means that there isn’t really a lot going on that will catch your attention..
It’s all very nice and the cut-scenes add a touch of humour to proceedings but it just doesn’t feel like a Lego game as the backdrops completely clash with the characters. It also doesn’t help that our hero takes up a third of the screen and obscures your view more often than not.
A fun blast ‘em up with pointlessly easy puzzles, the lack of variety in the gameplay and puzzles means that there is very little originality after only one level and you’ll have no reason to play this game more than once..
The game does a decent job of bringing the Bionicle world to life but never really feels like a fully fledged Lego game, maybe the Star Wars games have spoiled us but this could be a lot better.
A straightforward and dull list that requires very little effort to attain, the only gripe comes from the fact you will have to replay some levels in order to get 100% complete but that shouldn’t be too taxing.
A game for fans of Bionicle only, as the world and plot is just not welcoming enough for anyone else plus the non-Lego look may well put off fans of the other Lego games. Put it down to experience and hope that the upcoming Indiana Jones and Batman offerings do a much better job.
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User Score is based on 156 user ratings.