Get ready to witness an awesome new evolution of LEGO Gaming with the latest from TT Games, The LEGO Movie 2 Video Game. Throw away everything you know about current LEGO Games. Structured levels with minikits and gold bricks? Gone. Single giant hub that strings the main story together? Nope. Huge boss battles that cap off every level, as you struggle to collect enough studs, find all the weird collectibles, and unlock the next cool vehicle? Not here. The LEGO Movie 2 Video Game completely reinvents the idea of a LEGO Game by marrying the old way with the new, and the final product is extremely promising.
The LEGO Movie 2 Video Game breaks the mold of traditional level grinding & collectible hunting and replaces it with an open world creator experience similar to that of LEGO Worlds. In fact, I might even call this game LEGO Worlds 2: The LEGO Movie. Like LEGO Worlds, this game has no traditional “levels”, instead the main story takes place directly in the same open world that you later get to explore. And when you reach the end of the story in that particular world, you can either choose to continue on, or double back and keep exploring with the locals. Unlocking “Free Play” isn’t a thing anymore, this entire game is Free Play.
The traditional idea of LEGO video game collectibles is still present, but instead of gathering up meaningless minikits or gold bricks, you’re actually able to catalogue and save almost everything you come across. As you help characters you unlock them, as you complete missions you’re rewarded with digital LEGO elements from the world you just explored. Everything is open and the only reason to follow along with the plot is to get more cool abilities and unlock new worlds. Otherwise you could easily spend the better part of a gaming session just enjoying the Old West, or dropping into the sandbox to start building your own Bricksburg… because this game isn’t just about linear plots, it’s about creation, it’s about being a real Master Builder.
Never before has a franchised based LEGO Game given me the freedom to explore the hub worlds, then turn around and make my own using everything I just played with from each level. It’s a really rewarding system. In fact, this clever system of earning building elements pays off later in the game when you end up needing every build instruction you’ve collected to build your own small mission filled world.
They’ve even taken the concept of collecting builds and applied it to puzzle solving, replacing the overused “break this apart to build this new thing to advance the plot”. Instead you learn how to build a whole arsenal of handy gadgets, from sprinklers to generators, and to use them, you have to actually go mine bricks from random breakables in the environment. If you need to get up to a high ledge, you’ll need to build a trampoline and to build it you’ll need black and pink bricks, so off you go to find anything pink and black to smash so you can gather the resources to make your next move.
For the first time while playing a LEGO Game, I actually felt like I was playing with LEGO. I felt like I was creating something. Many of the world’s puzzles can be solved in a plethora of ways, the choice is yours!
It’s crazy to think that this game is literally built on the back of TT Game’s Minecraft competitor, LEGO Worlds, the procedurally generated open world brick building adventure. A majority of the elements from LEGO Worlds including tools, menus, and even in game buildings, have been recycled for the LEGO Movie 2 Video Game. The previously seen Paint Gun from LEGO Worlds is now a dainty fairy wand that blasts colors. The Astronaut Jet Pack that allowed you to reach new heights in LEGO Worlds was simply reskinned into General Mayhem’s booster pack. None of this is particularly important to know or detracts from the game itself, but it’s fascinating to see how the team behind these games can pull together old game mechanics to invent something new.
We are likely seeing a new era in LEGO Game story telling and mechanics. This fresh spin on a popular franchise gives me hope with what we might seem them do with future titles. I did miss some of the minikit like collection, and more structured levels with secret areas or silly gags. The game felt very light on the silliness and deep cut easter eggs, but that is completely understandable as they tried to do something new and out of their comfort zone.
The Boss Battles in this game were easily some of the best I’ve ever played in a LEGO Game. It felt like a kid friendly version of Shadow of Colossus, as I scaled the giant moving beasts to attack their power cores. Who ever was responsible for that needs to keep up the good work with future titles. LEGO Games should be fun like that, they should poke fun at other game franchises and gameplay styles.
I’m disappointed that many of the improved features of LEGO Worlds didn’t make it into this game. At times the camera goes out of control, character movement speeds are awfully slow, and where LEGO Worlds slowly improved their quick select tools and inventory systems, this game is almost a step backwards in usability. For Example, there are no flying characters, which makes traveling around some of the larger worlds a serious pain and rather time consuming, so I resorted to using a flying vehicle quite often, but dropping it in game was time consuming inconvenience each time, with multiple layers of menus just to get to a single pink jet. Then the moment I turn around to interact with a character, it despawns and I am forced to go back into the menus and go hunting all over.
But with my minor gripes aside, this game is a true family friendly brick filled adventure. In fact this might be one of the best introductory LEGO Games I’ve ever played. A new gamer wouldn’t have a hard time at all navigating these worlds.
The Story in this game is both good and bad. Good in that it doesn’t really spoil much of anything about the movie, and bad because at times the plot is barely recognizable from the source material. But that is the duty of game creators to take an existing franchise and expand upon it to flush out a full game, and I can see how experimenting with this new game style might have limited them.
Where the film dropped bread crumbs and laid the ground work of a compelling story, this game more or less requires you to have seen the film to put the narrative story pieces together.
BUT I do have to give the story team a thumbs up for actually using the supporting cast from the original film. In the movie they are barely seen or featured, their presence mostly a throw away. I actually loved the idea of Emmet’s Master Builder team being assembled as they journey through many worlds.
This game gets a tremendous amount of respect from me for trying something new, and despite a few bumps in the road, pulling off something fresh and satisfying.
Like I said earlier, this is the first time I felt like I was actually using LEGO in a LEGO Game. I loved the freedom given to me to explore how I wanted, and to problem solve how I wanted.
I wish there was a little bit more silly fun, with secret areas, easter eggs, etc… but I do understand these types of games don’t usually get the focus and attention that the big yearly release does, and that can result in more of a straight laced LEGO Game.
That said, I still loved it! I eagerly look forward to playing it with my family in the near future for some old school couch co-op.
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