The Lego Movie: Videogame Wii U Review
I’ve wanted to complete the review for The Lego Movie: Videogame back in April. However, my busy schedule and other priorities have prevented me from finishing the review… until now. I know many interested gamers may have already played the game, and, in fact, may already have watched the movie – so this review will likely be redundant at this point. However, this will not stop me from weighing in my thoughts on the game.
I am always a little apprehensive about movie tie-in games. Which is not surprising as movie tie-in games have a notorious reputation for being quick crash, grabs, devoid of polish and tight game design. My experience with movie tie-in games is fairly limited, as I tend to avoid them like the plaque. The last movie tie-in game that I can recall was the Lord of the Ring: The Return Of The king for the PlayStation 2. Ever since, I have never touched a movie tie-in game. I will not waste my money on garbage. However, after watching the Lego Movie – curiosity killed this cat, and I simply could not resist giving the video game a fair go.
The most important note that I should begin the review with – is how well the videogame follows the movie plot. The Lego Movie: Videogame is a strong adaptation of the film closely, following the events almost to the exact detail. If you have not watched the Lego Movie, and would like avoid major spoilers then I would advise that you do not play the video game first. Many assets from the movie have been cut and then pasted into the game to form what is the bulk of the cutscenes within the game.
As someone who watched the movie before playing the video game, I enjoyed reliving my favorite “Lego Movie” moments again. If you enjoyed the movie, you would enjoy WATCHING the video game. However, if I may be so bold as to claim that individuals have no need to watch the movie if you intend to play the video game first. I feel that the developer failed to strike the right balance between showing too little and showing too much. Instead of showing restraint – TT Games went overboard with the use of movie assets within the game.
Having said that, the charm and humor of the movie remain intact in the video game. The Lego humor has always been the selling point of the franchise. Actually, in my humble opinion, the only selling point of the franchise. The charm lies within the silliness and playfulness of the cast. The protagonist, Emmett forms the core of the group serving as the Charlie Chaplin role, with the supporting characters such a Wyldstyle, Vitruvius, Batman and Unikitty completing a dynamic synergy that works wonders. The script is well written with clever punch lines thrown in regularly for the player’s enjoyment. Unfortunately, despite being a VIDEO GAME, the most enjoyment is found in the character dialogue and narrative, and not in the gameplay!
Leading from the last point – the gameplay in the Lego Move: Videogame is indeed shallow. In short, all the player is required to do is press a button to attack, press a button to jump, switch characters to correspond with a job, and press more buttons. Sure, you could argue that all games require button pressing, but when all you do is mindlessly press buttons without a level of depth and complexity the result ends in a shallow and repetitive experience. For example, the combat in Lego Move: Videogameis a monotonous task of pressing the A button. What makes the situation worst is that the enemy AI is poorly programmed lacking any aggression. And the fact there is no punishment for death further exacerbates the already shallow experience.
To their credit, TT Games does attempt to add a layer of depth with the character specific abilities. Each playable character has a number of skill sets suitable for specific situations. For example, Wyldstyle has the ability to jump higher and further than any of the male protagonists, Batman can use his bat claw to unshackle ladders, Unikitty can destroy rainbow color blocks and so forth. The character specific abilities forces you to think laterally about what character is needed to solve puzzles and progress through certain situations. For example, in the latter half of the game you are tasked to assemble a submarine by using the special abilities of each character – recognizing what ability to use at the situation is essential to beat the stage in a timely manner.
The level design in The Lego Movie is fairly straightforward. Typically, levels progress in a linear fashion which essentially involves moving from point A to B. What happens in between is a combination of platforming,mild puzzle solving and tedious combat sections. Unfortunately, variety isn’t a strong point in The Lego Movie: The Video Game. I know this may not be a fair comparison, but at least in Lego City: Undercover there was variety in the gameplay for players to enjoy. The Lego Movie: The Video Game felt was a chore to play! It honestly felt like I was going through the same motions again and again. If it weren’t for the strong humor and enjoyable character dialogue, I would have given up on the game.
I must commend TT Games – the production values in The Lego Move: Videogame is commendable, especially for a movie tie-in game. The visuals are crisp and colorful, encapsulating the visual style of the movie. Furthermore, in my play through not once did I encounter a single bug or glitch. The soundtrack maintains the same high standards as the visuals. Fans of the movie will be glad to know that the “Everything is awesome” makes an abundant appearance.
As a game, The Lego Movie: Videogame disappoints in so many levels. It is shallow, repetitive and a downright chore to play. However, it is unfair to the developer to clump the title in the same group as the garbage that we have known and come to expect from movie tie-in games. In fact, a grand effort has been made to make a good game in The Lego Movie – the visuals are great, the script is funny and soundtrack sublime – it is such a shame that they could not nail the gameplay.