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If nothing else, The Lego Movie Videogame deserves a spot in history for having one of the worst titles in the history of gaming. As a game itself, it’s a perfectly acceptable bit of fluff and far better than most licensed tie-in titles. The big problem is simply one of legacy. Not only does the game pale in comparison to the excellent movie that just hit screens, but also the Lego City Undercover and Lego Marvel Superheroes games. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid all of those contemporary Lego classics, then I’m sure this game will be an absolute blast. The trouble is that roughly 99.7% of gamers who are likely to pick this puppy off shelves will know and love at least one of those titles (a very detailed and professional study was conducted to get that number, so you can trust it). As fun as The Lego Movie Videogame can be in fits and spurts, it is ultimately just standing on the shoulders of other brilliant Lego creations and never quite manages to break out on its own. Ah well, at least you can finally play as the 80s Lego astronaut, broken chinstrap and all. So that’s a minor dream come true.
The story for the Lego Movie Videogame is the exact story of The Lego Movie, pulling scenes straight out of the flick to set up a series of Lego challenges that fans of the previous games will know all too well. The main character is Emmet, a lowly Lego construction worker who lives a life dictated by an instruction book. One day he meets a beautiful gal (well, by Lego figure standards anyways) named Wyldstyle and discovers he might be a chosen Lego figure who will rid the world of the instruction book tyranny created by the evil Lord Business and return the Lego-land to a genre-mashup world founded in creative building. The plot plays out entirely in scenes from the movie and pretty well the whole thing makes it into the game at some point. That makes this a fairly fun tie in game for fans anxious to own a copy of the flick while it’s still in theaters. But it also robs the game of any sense of surprise for those who have seen the movie. You’ll be going through those exact same motions here, only this time with levels instead of action scenes.
Play style is exactly the same as the last few Lego titles. The city of Brickburg operates as a sandbox hub while all of the other worlds like Western Land and Coo-Coo-Land are used as levels. As a result, the biggest map in the game is a deliberately generic city while the creative climates are limited to small level maps. A bit of a bummer, but there you go. Emmet is the main character and chances are that you won’t play as him much. In keeping with the theme of the movie, Emmet can’t build or fight very well and given that those are the main skills that define gameplay, the protagonist is absolutely useless and will only be the star during cut scenes. Beyond Emmet, there are dozens of characters from Wyldstyle to Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Abraham Lincoln. That is a Lego game tradition, of course. The only problem is that in The Lego Movie Videogame, having access to Superman and Batman will only remind players of the far superior pre-existing Lego games that they could and should be playing instead of this one.
The entire project feels rushed to meet a release date, with the Lego games’ trademark humor essentially absent outside of the scenes from the movie. Now, it would be unfair to call it a disaster. The one major advantage Traveller’s Tales had in creating this title was a rock solid template. These designers have been building and expanding on the possibilities of Lego-themed action sequences since the ancient days of Lego Star Wars. So there are a number of wonderful adaptation of movie action scenes into levels (particularly the chase sequences), and the building dynamic is as fun as ever. The graphics are solid, and you certainly can’t describe the game as boring given that the cut scenes are hilarious and the levels are well designed (with the exception of a few really tedious platforming sequences). Yet, there’s absolutely nothing new or fresh here at all, and that’s a pretty major flaw.
For the first time in quite a while, Traveller’s haven’t reinvented the Lego game wheel. Instead, they’ve simply repeated their own formula based around designs, characters, and plotlines from The Lego Movie. If you could play this game in a vacuum, it would probably be a heck of a lot of fun. The trouble is that any real Lego fan will have just finished Lego Marvel Superheroes and fallen in love with The Lego Movie before picking this disc up. If that’s the case, you can’t help but be at least mildly disappointed. Granted, an average Lego game is still better than most games. However, given that this title offered the Traveller’s team a chance to combine franchises, genres, and techniques from all their previous work for the first time, it’s a big ol’ missed opportunity. Yep, the licensed game curse strikes again. Let’s hope someone finally gets it right one of these days.