Traveller’s Tales (TT) very rarely seem to put a foot wrong and each new Lego game seems to sell more than the previous but at some point this hot streak is likely to at the very least blip. With the absolutely brilliant Lego Marvel Super Heroes only released a few months ago now comes a multimedia assault on the senses in the form of the already hugely successful Lego Movie in the cinemas and the movie tie-in game being released on every console platform you can possibly think of.
This time the TT Fusion team take the reins for the movie tie-in and we last saw them on the Wii U only adventure Lego City Underground, arguably the weakest of the Lego games seen over the last five years and hamstrung by the limited install base of the still badly struggling Wii U console. The Fusion team here have been landed with the not so enviable job of not only keeping the Lego franchise as a whole ticking over on consoles around the world but creating a movie tie-in that follows a movie more closely than you ever thought possible.
A really important thing to note is that if you have every intention of watching the movie DO NOT play the game first as it religiously mirrors the adventure found within the movie, to the point that the cutscenes within the game are actually low resolution clips taken directly from the movie itself. Quite why you’d show off crisp, colour rich, high definition graphics throughout and then intercut them with sub-DVD quality movie footage is a mystery and it hampers the experience to a degree, slightly removing you from the ‘game’ you are playing as you sit back and try to catch your favourite movie moment. To counter any negative feelings from this the saving grace is the entire main voice cast is included in the game with new dialogue mixed with classic lines from the movie and as the movie is hysterical this is a huge positive. Batman naturally steals every scene he is in as Will Arnett absolutely nails the cocky absurd character we’ve grown to love in previous Lego Batman games - add to this the likes of Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman, we might just have a decent movie tie-in game on our hands here.
Sadly “decent” is about as good as it gets and the title falls some way short of the Marvel Lego game released before Christmas. Whilst the game is hugely colourful and the characters are for the most part fantastic (Batman of course steals the show much like a he does throughout the movie) it’s all just a bit flat. It’s odd really as the creativity and quality of visuals are on the screen and clear to see but the game mechanics are overly simple (puzzles are the easiest for many a Lego game) and the boss encounters offer no challenge at all. This is not to say that Lego games as a rule are the opposite but when compared to the aforementioned Lego Marvel, this doesn’t offer anywhere near the simple fun that can be had with that title. The only new mechanics of note are firstly the Master Builder’s ability to take three highlighted objects and create something new; whilst new though it’s merely just a variation on the already consistent ‘build’ theme found within all Lego games - only here we can see things like build instructions and layouts. Secondly there is a short mini-game at certain points where you can earn extra studs for choosing the right parts to build essential objects to continue the campaign such as... SPACESHIP!
As in the movie you begin as Emmett (aka The Special) and you embark on an adventure that will change the world forever. Adding to your band of cohorts with the likes of Batman and Green Lantern (along with his best bud, Superman) and battling against Bad Cop and Lord Business through a bland campaign will take you around seven hours. Once complete the hub world and its subsequent side activities is arguably better than anything encountered in the campaign. Hours of play are waiting as you mine studs to unlock the large roster of characters - sadly there is a ton of repetition in there for the completionist - for example there are lots of Emmetts in various guises which is obvious padding, that said though if you love collectibles this game has a ton.
It’s such a shame really that whilst the game is fun and fans of the movie will get a kick out of re-living some of the scenes, it all just feels rushed. This feeling is thrust front and centre with the continuous glitching encountered on our main playthrough (co-op with five year old son). A co-op playthrough saw no less than six, count ‘em, six, game breaking issues. These included such things as being off the screen during a scripted event and any attempt to get back on the screen resulting in instant death to outright physics glitching tying a required character to an object - both instances resulting in having to completely replay a level. As it’s a Lego game and playing a Lego game with a five-year old is generally a good laugh it’s not a massive deal but still, it does highlight how the product isn’t finished and lacks the polish of previous titles.
Underwhelming is probably the best way to describe The Lego Movie Game; sticking too closely to the movie, lacking in the fun factor, having little character of its own as a result, feeling padded and most certainly rushed to coincide with the movie launch. The result is a Lego game so closely tied to the movie’s content and its release date that it appears some of the fun and charm of what we have come to expect from a Lego game is missing, ultimately leaving us feeling like The Lego Movie Game is a decent movie tie-in and no more, most certainly not a great Lego experience as we have come to expect.