The Lego Movie Videogame
- Street Date:
- February 7th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Brian Hoss
- Review Date:1
- March 2nd, 2014
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox One
- Warner Bros.
- Traveller's Tales
- ESRB Rating:
- E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)
Xbox One version reviewed. Review was done with a mix of the drop-in, drop-out co-op and single player.
Nestled right between 'Lego Marvel Super Heroes' and 'Lego The Hobbit comes 'The Lego Movie Videogame.' Unlike its fellow Lego games, 'The Lego Movie Videogame' was shrouded in mystery right up until release, with scenes from the movie taking the place of gameplay footage. Of course, the movie was somewhat mysterious in its own right, an apparent mish-mash of licenses and with a story about the Special, and the conflict between the Master Builders and President Business. Nevertheless, with Traveller's Tales pedigree in hand, the hope has to be that everything in 'The Lego Movie Videogame' is awesome.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Though it sometime can seem like each new 'Lego' is a different skin of the original 'Lego Star Wars' product, the series has seen some recent major additions and iterations such as full voice acting, original stories, a massive single-player Wii U title, open world design, and even more extensive lengths required for completionists. And yet, 'The Lego Movie Videogame' faces some special challenges. While quite rare these days, 'The Lego Movie Videogame' is a movie tie-in game. It released day and date with the movie, shares the same story as the movie, and is even punctuated by cutscenes lifted frame-by-frame (though hardly complete) from the movie.
The Lego games can typical draw on the affinity of characters and franchises that at least span multiple movies. Like the movie, there are some of those characters such as Superman and Gandalf, but outside of the comical Lego Batman, these characters presence amounts to little more than cameos. On the flipside though, despite sticking so close to the 100 minute movie, I'm not sure the story is discernible for those that haven't seen the movie.
Working within the framework of the movie (and a tighter deadline for a secondary team no doubt), the game drops most any attempt at an open world structure. Instead the game is more of a throwback to earlier titles, with levels set around four hub worlds. This linear design may throw some fans, but it isn't exactly 2006 era either. For one thing, the game draws on the multitude of character powers of other titles along with some new ones. While this is standard for the series, this time around the powers can feel extremely limiting at the beginning. Emmet, the title character, can't build and has a sad jump compared with the WildStyle/Lucy character.
After a few levels and with more allies, Emmet's powers grow, but traversing the levels can still feel silly. Getting over a small wall can often require the powers of four different characters, and just as often one character has to take a lengthy detour to open things up for the others. Meanwhile, endless skeletron robots will be firing at all of the heroes, making character switching somewhat tedious. Often it's the one character you need, who decided to stop walking forward a 100 feet back. And the levels themselves are long enough to need save and quit checkpoints. Those checkpoints are just one of things that seem to have been implemented with more haste than polish. This is definitely a game you don't want to try to break, as that will happen enough on its own.
The lack of polish doesn't equate to cheap experience, just somewhat uneven. The master builder segments, wherein characters take (seemingly) random pieces of the environment and construct all sorts of crazy but useful things apes the movie the well. It doesn't add much gameplaywise, but it's quite impressive visually. Any Master Builder character can do master builds, which is convenient if not exactly intune with the different Master Builder styles. Rainbow and greenlantern pieces are, however, unique.
The hub worlds at first seem like a poor substitute for an open city, but they are packed full of secrets (like red bricks) and at specific times they require lengthy exploration just to get access to the next level.
The game has 15 proper levels not counting the hub worlds and bonus room, but many of those levels are given to full-on vehicle or free-fall sequences. The quality of playable segments from the movie vary, whether it is the giant motorcycle, submarine, or double-decker couch. The player can even make Emmet take the alternate path when falling underneath the construction site. These sequences in general though are problematic; the gameplay feels like being hurtled along with only a quick chance at a secret and too many instances of unavoidable damage and wonky scripting. It's worse in co-op.
Speaking of worse in co-op. The game featues Instruction Build segments, where Emmet works from a instruction manual of the kind included with real lego kits. These segments are quick multiple choice visual matches, and they pay out more studs for quick, correct answers. These really feel like the start of something fun and new, though they don't grow that much. In co-op though, they are hot mess, almost worth dropping out for.
There are a few other minigames such as rhythm game segments and a Pac-Man-like hacking game. There's also a really long swimming sequence, which is notable for proving how boring having a portable working underwater laser and plenty of plankton to shoot can be.
All-in-all, the game has enough good gameplay, exploration, secrets, and enjoyable characters to make it a must for Lego game fans, and for a strong choice for anyone who enjoyed the movie.
The Xbox One version did crash to the dashboard a few times. Always after traveling to the Old West hub. At one point, I died during a vehicle sequence in co-op and kept respawning off-screen, and it took serious troubleshooting to avoid having to replay the whole sequence. I recommend using flying characters in Free Play sparingly.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
With so many movie cutscenes, it's a wonder that the whole movie isn't included. Why have the Batman stereo system scenes, and not have his song? As for the actual rendered game, it's a strong candidate for the best-looking Lego game by far. Many scenes look taken straight from other Lego games, but others have a new level of animated environment (inspired by the film) that fly in the face of any thoughts of the game being "cheap." The character variety from Unikitty to Metal Beard to Lord Business make for a lot to see, and that's before digging into all of the 96 playable characters. (Sadly, several movie cameos, such as the Millennium Falcon visit, are naught to be found.)
Cloud Cuckoo Land and the ocean surface are standouts. It's unfortunate then that the visuals often devolve into a dozen laser blasts coming from each side or a group of construction workers looking to drill out a spot that was drilled out 14 levels ago. Eventually, with so many scripted sequences carelessly causing unsightly clipping, the player will become numb to registering how unfinished those sequences look.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
If you think you heard 'Everything is Awesome' a lot in the movie, prepare to be inundated. The credits alone are enough to reprogram any life-long fatalist. Still, the game has plenty of catchy tracks, and easily outclasses the other Lego games. And that's before considering tracks on the giant iPod.
While the music is good, it almost seems like damning praise to write that the voice acting is off the charts. For a movie tie-in game, the voice acting can be one the bigger shackles, but the results in 'The Lego Movie Videogame' speak for themselves. While many lines are obviously taken from the movie, there are loads new for the game. Will Arnett's Batman and Morgan Freeman's Vitruvius are worth their weight in gold, and the surprising volume of their quality contributions should help adults enjoy the game as much their children.
I set the controller down at 77%, with all characters unlocked, red bricks found and bought, and each level having been "The Special." That just leaves the gold instruction books and collectible pants, which were almost not worth looking for the first time through, as they are so often gated off by an ability from a subsequent level. I'm ashamed to note that I went for both the 1 billion stud achievement and 2 billion stud challenge. For parents replaying the game with kids, it's a much tighter title, which is a win versus having to drop open-world hours in another Lego title. Right now, it's hard to say if 'The Lego Movie' has the staying power to be worth revisiting, and because of that, the game is likewise still a question mark for future playthroughs. Most people will find it as replayable as other Lego titles.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There is a "Wild West Pack" DLC that isn't currently offered for the Xbox One version. It seems to be locked to a UK retailer. The game did come with a voucher redeemable for a 'The Lego Movie' movie ticket, which would have been great if I hadn't already seen the movie, and doesn't make up for the disjointed story presentation.
The game promises optional Kinect voice control, which as far as I can tell is limited to pausing and unpausing the game. What's funny though, is if you open up the in-game help (the dreadful snap help file), you not only find plenty of typos that were corrected in the printed manual, but it also states that Kinect can be used to open up the map "when in New York City." Of course this game has no map, or NYC, making the text seem like it was lifted straight from the 'Lego Marvel Super Heroes' help file.
Initially, 'The Lego Movie Videogame' frustrates with a poor handling of the movie's awkward story, odd assignment of character powers, and subpar vehicle sequences. By then end though, the player is fully able to be immersed in Lego set recreations, offshoots of the best humor, creations, and visuals of the movie, and that special mix of Lego gameplay, exploring collecting, and co-operating. Some aspects of the game touch on new directions for the series, but ultimately a nostalgic enthusiasm for Legos and a growing fondness for some of the movie's characters mean more for the game and its review score.
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- LPCM 5.1
- Offline Co-op
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