February 24, 2014
The LEGO franchise has always had the ability to create pitch perfect parodies of the various creative works it has come up against, from Hobbits to super heroes there have been so many spot on observations and perfectly timed comedy beats in the games to date. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if those many gaming riffs are what led to the creation of a LEGO Movie in the first place, but how do you parody yourself? By taking all the quirks of LEGO fans everywhere and making them as ridiculous as possible of course.
It’s clear from the get-go that the game of the movie follows the movie fairly faithfully, while still taking cues from previous games. You still with me? (I’m not). You step into the pants of Emmet, long time construction worker and generally socially awkward do-gooder at large, who stumbles across a prophesised LEGO brick while investigating a disturbance after hours at his work site. What follows slips from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again, as he gets pulled into a war between the Master Builders and Lord Business with his wonderfully OTT right hand man Bad Cop.
The game as a whole is delightful to look at, but the cut-scenes are a thing of beauty and the voiceover work is superb almost to a tee. One-liners fly at you from every angle, and the characters are all wonderfully realised and given a chance to shine. Will Ferrell and Liam Neeson (Bad Cop is my new hero) steal the show as the villains, with a propensity for chair destruction, and the lead trio of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Morgan Freeman just bounce off one another wonderfully. Then Will Arnett comes along as Batman, which is the cherry on top.
In terms of story, characters and general hilarity the game rarely puts a foot wrong, though obviously it does have to drag things out a touch more than the movie does. In this way you get to take in the sights and sounds of a bunch of the worlds that make up Legoland, worlds that the nefarious Lord Business has tried to keep sealed away from each other. The clever introduction of building sections where players follow along to instructions, or use a Master to go freestyle, are also a smart touch and a knowing nod to the different approaches to LEGO building in the real world.
Gameplay is as simple as ever, even more so to be honest as the game seems to have been slightly pared back for the younger generation. Sure the same humour is still present for all ages, but levels seem shorter and more straightforward, plus there are only fifteen of them. The hub worlds too seem strangely diminished and whole chunks of certain levels are lost to merely falling down holes, on-rails driving sections or merely steering a character down never-ending slopes. The only new additions are the aforementioned building sections that are simply a case of selecting the right part, and a couple of amusing dance sections (replete with an annoyingly addictive theme song). It’s like an even more basic version of the previous LEGO games in many ways.
It’s a shame really, as the superb story is wrapped up in levels that feel like the same old same old. Plus with the short play time, too much of your time is lost to sections that require minimal actual gameplay, rather than the same creative thinking and freeform exploration that we have been spoiled with in the past.
Other issues also crop up in the form of the same old glitches and issues that seem to have plagued the series for a while now, exacerbated by a few new ones that rear their heads to spoil your fun. Most of them, frustratingly, seem linked with co-op mode. Whereby the game will sometimes lock up if both players try and undertake a story action at the same time, or will spawn one player off screen if they die (especially on vehicle sections), the camera is problematic in single player at times but becomes a nightmare with two players. It’s a shame as the game is so much more fun with multiple people and yet is more problematic as a result.
Then to compound matters the game then decided to wreck the save, at first saying there wasn’t one at all and repeatedly asking us to sign in, risking the loss of seven hours of gameplay, before deciding to fix itself after multiple console reboots. Things seemed back on track, but upon completion of a level no achievement popped up. We replayed the level, then again, then tried the next level, then tried a totally different achievement. Still no joy. In the end we had to delete the save entirely at which point the issue seemed to vanish, only for it to happen again a bit further down the line. Another restart, another trawl through the same familiar scenes.
Now maybe this isn’t an issue with the game, maybe it’s an Xbox One issue, who knows? But it does make for a frustrating experience especially for those looking to snag some easy achievements along the way, and why wouldn’t you as most of them are a bunch of fun and fairly easy to boot. So having to delete your entire save just to get them working right is a fundamental issue.
On the whole The LEGO Movie Videogame is a mix of the good and bad. With the wonderful cast of characters and voices that made the film such a resounding success carried over here with aplomb, but with a pared back amount of things to do and gameplay styles meaning it is never quite as fun to play as it is to watch. The save glitch is unforgiveable as are some of the reoccurring co-op problems, but seem less of a burden for solo play. On the whole though this is the ideal game for kids to tie in with the movie, but probably not one of the better LEGO titles thus far.
Beautiful cutscenes and a wonderful world to romp around in, though plagued by camera issues that can prove a handful with more than one player.
The game's major issue is that it has much less content and exploration, which seems like a real step back, and the levels and hubs just feel that much smaller and less enjoyable. Plus a few too many sections where the player has to do little more than steer, or hold a button.
A great story, married with weaker than usual gameplay and a few annoying glitches. The levels in general just become something for you to get through in order to see the next funny scene, so why not just watch the film?
As ever, a good mix of progression tasks with funny one-off things to do. LEGO always tends to get the mix spot on, though this is one of the shorter games to get through even by their standards. Be aware that save issues can hamper your progress somewhat
A fun LEGO game, but not among the best that the series has to offer, which is a real shame as the story going on around the average levels is top notch and probably one of the best. If you’ve seen the The LEGO Movie though then you can probably give The LEGO Movie Videogame a miss without too many regrets.