Critics have long complained about the staleness of the LEGO franchise’s once winning formula, even suggesting that if you’ve played one LEGO game you’ve played them all. A change was inevitable, and it looks like TT Games has chosen this movie tie-in as a test subject for a long overdue shake-up.
The focus on teamwork and swapping between characters has been ditched in favour of a single central character with a bag of universal tools and an ever-growing list of objects to build. By removing the unique abilities linked to each character, they’re reduced to being little more than skins. Once unlocked, it’s even possible to stick with a single character for the whole game. Gone are the days when somebody small is required to squeeze through a gap, or a someone with superhuman strength needed to smash…whatever.
As a side note, it also seems Chris Pratt didn’t want to be involved with this project. Well, that or they were too expensive to hire. His character, Emmet, doesn’t utter a single word throughout, reducing him to a shadow of his former happy-go-lucky self. Lucy (Wildstyle) takes centre stage instead, narrating all tutorials and cut-scenes.
To accompany the newfound ability to free roam in open worlds there’s also a fresh structure in place. Each world has 40-50 ‘Master Piece’ bricks to collect, gained by completing straightforward quests for NPCs or found tucked away behind structures and such. Only around 15 ‘Master Pieces’ are required to unlock the portal to the next world, however, usually gathered while working through the simple quests that lead up to the whereabouts of one of the movie’s stars. Once they join the crew a new tool is unlocked, such as Benny’s blow torch and Rex’s brick destroying gloves.
All characters have access to these tools, which also include a (krazy) glue remover, the paint gun from LEGO Worlds, and an object scanner which adds new decorative items to your catalogue. Buildable objects, meanwhile, require resources to construct and take the form of self-explanatory bounce pads, water sprinklers, and power generators. They’re deployable only within designated areas and are used to complete quests, solve simple puzzles, and access new areas.
This tie-in only loosely follows the movie’s plot, with a premise that involves visiting different worlds to reunite Wildstyle and Emmet with their chums before confronting the new villain. In fact, the events of the movie go mostly untouched until the final, ridiculously spoiler-filled, cut-scene which provides a synopsis of all the twists that occur in its silver screen counterpart. If you’re yet to see the movie this cut-scene will spoil the whole shebang in one fell swoop, so consider yourself warned.
The opening world set in Apocalypseburg does at least put on a good show. While getting to grips with the new menus and tools there are a few bombastic set-pieces to take in, along with a boss battle against a colossal Duplo beast, and one humorous cut-scene involving Batman’s inflated ego.
Sadly, Apocalypseburg is the only world that’s had a respectable amount of time and effort put in. The remaining six worlds bare stark resemblance to a randomly created LEGO Worlds planet – large but featureless environments scattered with random objects, aimlessly wandering NPCs and little else. The second world, for instance, is merely a green field to test out the building tool; a blank canvas to create a town or city.
Another world takes the form of a ‘white picket fence’ suburb with rows of identical houses, where you’ll find the DC superheroes dishing out such inane tasks as painting Green Lantern’s house, finding a new lawn mower for Cyborg, and bringing Lex Luthor an ice cream. A few worlds – including a jungle with mystical temples – fare better, but only moderately so.
The only reprieve from comes from the boss battles that periodically occur during the story’s 4-5 hour duration. The bosses are colossal, googly-eyed, Duplo creatures, all defeated in a similar manner by finding their weakness, scaling their blocky exterior via simplified platforming, and then whittling down their health bar via an impromptu whack-a-mole mini-game.
Indeed, The LEGO Movie 2 recalls the days of PS2 era movie tie-ins; the kind that featured a handful of ideas endlessly recycled until the game’s fleeting conclusion.
For those wanting to find all ‘Master Piece’ bricks and unlock everything (incidentally, new items and characters are gained by randomised loot boxes) this does still prove to be a considerable time sink, especially considering a few worlds from the first movie – including The Old West – are thrown in for good measure.
Problem is, the package as a whole feels cheaply made and even flimsier than off-brand LEGO. The levels are so void of personality and consistency that they may as well be randomly generated. They certainly feel that way. The suburb world, in particular, is so bland and formulaic that it feels as if the developers churned it out during a sleepy Friday afternoon.
While we’re glad TT Games has tried to do something new here, reusing the LEGO Worlds engine to such an obvious extent wasn’t the smartest of moves. This isn’t a sturdy foundation to build upon.
Review code supplied by Warner Bros.