It's surprising that it's taken this long for Lego (sorry purists, I won't be capping the word throughout this review) to hit the big screen; while gamers have been enjoying Lego styled video games for years now, The Lego Movie is the first time the bricks have hit theaters. Unsurprisingly, Traveller’s Tales, creators of all things Lego in video game form, have adapted the movie into said form with The LEGO Movie Videogame.
Unlike past movie adaptions to Lego video game form, where the developer skirts around important plot points of the movies it spoofs, The Lego Movie Videogame is an almost exact recreation of the movie's plot. If you haven't seen the movie and don't want it spoiled, don't play the game! In fact, the game's cutscenes are taken directly from the movie.
The movie's stars, such as Chris Pratt and Will Arnett, reprise their roles from The Lego Movie in The Lego Movie Videogame to great effect. Jokes made throughout the game hit their mark and levels are often extended versions of scenes from the movie. It feels like a lot of the content would be right at home as deleted scenes from the movie's home release. Sadly, the voice work and writing may be the game's saving grace.
While there aren't as many playable characters as past Lego games, the variety in the characters is pretty impressive. Stars like Emmet and Wyldstyle fight alongside Gandalf and Superman who are right alongside Lego staples like Gordon Zola and Benny the Space Guy. If you're a Lego fan, you'll love the character selection available here.
Familiar Lego Action
The Lego Movie Videogame follows the exact same pattern as every other Lego video game: hub worlds, a wide range of characters to play, lots of unlockables. It's all here, and that's almost the problem. If you played LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, released only three months ago at the PlayStation 4's launch, you're pretty much getting the same game reskinned. Yes, there are new character abilities, but it really doesn't do a lot to make the game feel different from it's predecessor. With Lego: The Hobbit releasing in just two months, and likely containing the same type of gameplay, it just feels like overkill at this point. Gamers complain about annual franchises like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed, yet Lego styled video games are right now a “once every two month franchise.”
And it shows.
That's not to say the gameplay is bad, per se. It follows the simple formula of linear levels, easy gameplay and couch co-op. But it's just... stale, for lack of a better word. There really isn't anything fundamentally wrong with the game outside of that sense of deja vu when playing, like I just did all this three months ago.
Unfortunately, Traveller's Tales have also brought along the series penchant for glitches and poor camera angles with this release as well. Just like Lego Marvel Super Heroes, The Lego Movie Videogame is prone to freezing, with the game freezing a few times during the course of this review. In what feels like deja vu, the camera is troublesome (as usual), often causing you to miss jumps.
In my Lego Marvel Super Heroes review, I wrote “At it's core, gameplay is simple but it works; after all, don't fix what isn't broken, as the old saying goes. It's just too bad Traveller's Tales didn't fix what actually is broken.” The same still stands for this game, and it's getting tiresome dealing with the same problems game after game. It's time to stop giving Traveller's Tales a pass for these issues. I might as well get a jump on my Lego: The Hobbit review and just cut and paste the same two sentences into that review as well. At this point, it's like they know these games will sell and don't care about fixing anything.
The other problem is that the game's repetitive nature is just getting old in terms of the Free Play mechanic. Playing through levels once and needing to replay them again after unlocking specific characters is just a way for the developers to pad out the game's length. Does anyone really want to immediately play through an entire game twice?
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
The Lego Movie Videogame is releasing on every system imaginable and, as such, is not tailored towards any one particular system. The PlayStation 4 version of the game features cleaner graphics and a slightly better frame rate compared to other systems, but no other PlayStation 4 specific features.
The game looks good, the soundtrack is decent – again, if you've played Lego Marvel Super Heroes, you know what to expect here in terms of visuals. If you haven't, just check out that review.
The PlayStation 4 version of the game naturally includes trophies, and these trophies are a nice mix between standard and interesting. Sure, there are your standard trophies for completing levels, collecting studs and unlocking characters, but on the other hand there are trophies for using the special abilities of characters, shooting specific characters and playing as specific pairs of characters. Trophy hunters will enjoy themselves.
I know I've drawn a lot of comparisons to Lego Marvel Super Heroes throughout this review, but that's because not a lot has truly changed. Sure, the characters, story and setting is different, but the gameplay is the same, warts and all. I'm someone who played through every aspect of Lego Marvel Super Heroes and the first thing I felt upon starting The Lego Movie Videogame was fatigue, as I was still burned out from the previous Lego game and there wasn't enough fresh action here to make the game seem unique.
Imagine if Call of Duty came out every two months? There is a reason publishers at least try to space these things out annually. With another Lego game on the docket in another two months, Traveller's Tales needs to slow down and address the problems that keep plaguing their games. There really is no excuse as to why these games are so riddled with glitches and bugs other than the company is on deadlines they can't quite reach, because I refuse to believe they just don't care enough to fix these issues. Lego Marvel Super Heroes had to be out by the November 15th PS4 launch, The Lego Movie Videogame had to be out on the same date as the movie. There is never time to do anything other than just keep reskinning the same core mechanics.
Fans of Lego deserve better. Yes, the game is fun, the simple gameplay does hold up yet again, but there is no innovation here. Lego prides themselves on every set being better than the last, doing things you never thought possible with every brick. The Lego video games, on the other hand, have fallen into a routine pattern where you know what to expect and your expectations are never challenged. That's not necessarily a good thing.
Is the game worth a purchase? It depends. Have you not played a Lego video game in awhile? Did you (or your children) love the Lego movie? Are you looking for a new kid friendly game? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then the game is worth a purchase. If the answer is no, well, you can always hope that Lego: The Hobbit ends up better and can innovate this franchise. The third time is a charm, right?
Final Score: 6/10
Game Category: Action / Adventure
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 2/8/2014