The LEGO Movie Videogame is already the second LEGO game to be released on the next generation of consoles, and with the upcoming awkwardly-titled LEGO The Hobbit just on the horizon, this series has no intention of letting up. Based off the excellent movie, The LEGO Movie Videogame takes the honours of being one of the series' disappointing entries, mostly because it ignores what made the previous LEGO games a joy to play. What may have worked as an excellently written 90 minute script just feels overly drawn out here in video game form.
The main story follows the movie practically beat for beat, with cutscenes being pulled directly from the film, meaning you should probably see the movie first. This comes as a stark departure from the original stories in LEGO Batman 2 or LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, both of which succeeded in telling fun and clever yarns within their respective licenses. Unfortunately, The LEGO Movie Videogame doesn’t retain that at all, feeling more like a lifeless imitation. By retreading the exact same story, there’s very little room for creativity which is — for those of you have seen it — ironic considering the film’s message.
Even with the interspersed film scenes meshed between each chapter, the adaptation still feels off. Some of the scenes abruptly end, sending you back to whichever world you left last, only to continue after you’ve followed the trail of coloured studs to the next mission. It all feels unorganized, messy and rushed. On the plus side, there exists some wonderful banter between the characters that can’t be found on the big screen. The voice actors from the movie reprise their roles with fresh new dialogue that makes the somewhat generic gameplay tolerable. Honestly, can we just have Will Arnett voice LEGO Batman for the foreseeable future, please?
"What may have worked as an excellently written 90 minute script just feels overly drawn out here in video game form."
The LEGO Movie Videogame does have its fair share of memorable moments though. An early car chase sequence that has you switching between Emmett and Wildstyle is particularly entertaining, as is nearly every opportunity to play as Unikitty, a bouncy happy-going cat that transforms into a fearful, monstrous beast of destruction on a whim. If you can convince them, playing through the game with a second person is the most recommended and where most of your enjoyment will come from. Local couch co-op may seem like a long-lost art, but it’s in full swing here. Running around the streets of Bricksburg, collecting the many studs, or assembling bridges in Cloud Cuckoo Land with a friend is still great fun despite some of the repetitive nature. There’s an excellent level set in the Old West that takes full advantage of the game’s vast array of characters and their abilities to solve basic puzzles. You’ll use Vitruvius to cross a small, narrow beam to activate a bridge then use Wildstyle’s climbing ability to knock down a ladder for her comrades, where Emmett will use his trusty wrench to repair a switch to continue on.
There are some new activities thrown in that plays directly into LEGO being a great children’s toy. Pretty much any character that isn’t Emmet is a Master Builder, where they can pull things from the environment to build extravagant creations like catapults or vehicles. Emmett is a lot more useful once you have collected instruction pages that allow him to build important objects. What follows is a timed mini-game in which the player will need to choose from a selection of LEGO pieces that fit within the object being created. Both of these new additions are fine, but they’re more or less just variations on the same basic tropes of past games.
"If you can convince them, playing through the game with a second person is the most recommended and where most of your enjoyment will come from."
On a technical level, expect to run into a number of glitches throughout the 15 chapter campaign. Characters rarely follow you when you want them to because they’re either stuck behind some object or don’t realize they need to climb a latter or stairs. A couple times we were forced to restart a save because of a scripted event that glitched, or a character refused to materialize, meaning our characters simply looked on into absolute nothingness. There was even a dreadful occurrence where the game locked up and exited straight to the Xbox One dashboard. Bugs in LEGO games aren’t anything new, but in the context of The LEGO Movie Videogame — with it’s already uninspired level design — it’s difficult to ignore them this time around.
It’s not that the LEGO Movie Videogame is bad, it just severely lacks the appeal of what made the previous LEGO titles so endearing. The series is best when it mocks the licensed source material, but the parody is sadly missing from The LEGO Movie Videogame because its solely based on a film about LEGO. Instead of being a copycat, we would have enjoyed seeing an original story set either before or after the events of the movie. Like the previous LEGO games, there are an exorbitant amount of characters to unlock, items to collect, and blocks to bust. But somewhere amidst the cutesy charm and funny voice work, shows a formula that is slowly growing stale. There’s only so many times someone can find pleasure until they grow tired picking up the same pieces over and over again.