With the original LEGO Star Wars back in 2005, the LEGO series of licensed video games took the world by storm and launched a series nobody ever imagined would be as popular as it has become. Since then, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Tolkien Universe have all gotten the LEGO treatment. The gag of turning popular characters into cute little plastic blocks never seems to get old. With each title, the series has been surprisingly good at refreshing itself by gradually adding more elements to the mix, like the open world of the comic book games and the bonus levels in the first Harry Potter game. The LEGO Movie Video Game is unique in one big way.
It's the first LEGO game tied to just one movie and, as such, it is probably the first Lego game whose release date was actually important. It also has to draw its content from 90 minutes of source material. As a result, this game is significantly shorter and has fewer features than other recent Lego games. These limitations have their drawbacks, but they have their upside too. There are some excellent levels where the quality makes up for the lack of quantity, and completionists will find a refreshing step back from the “collectibles inflation” that has crept into Lego games lately. Overall, The LEGO Movie Video Game is a solid companion to the movie that LEGO lovers should add to their collection.
By now, you have probably played enough LEGO games to understand their basic flow. Every class of character has a certain special ability, and levels are mostly designed so that only one type of character can access each area or build certain objects. Some characters can destroy silver objects with explosives. Others can melt gold objects with lasers. Some characters are needed to get through special doors. You play through each level once in story mode, where most of the collectibles are inaccessible to you. Later, you can replay them in free play, where unlocked characters can access previously blocked off areas. This game doesn’t deviate from that formula, but it does have a couple of new wrinkles. Each level generally has one huge build that requires instructions. Once you find these instructions, you enter into a minigame where you try and identify the missing pieces from a build before a timer runs out. The game also introduces a decent Pac–Man style hacking minigame, where you navigate a small maze to upload a virus to a node before you get caught by roaming enemies. “Everything is Awesome” is put to use in a couple of dancing minigames. These additions aren’t revolutionary, but they do just enough to give this game the unique flavor that it needs.
The LEGO Movie Video Game follows the story of Emmet, the generic looking, yellow-faced, orange-clad unlikely hero of The LEGO Movie. The game doesn’t create anything in terms of story, but rather recreates it with cutscenes lifted directly from the movie. Unfortunately, this direct re-use of the source material is the game’s biggest shortcoming. The movie is a great one loaded with laughs, but they don’t translate very well into the game. The LEGO Movie Game is the only LEGO game based on a purely comical source and, ironically, it is the only LEGO game that I have played that I didn’t find to be funny. There is some attempt at humorous banter during the levels (provided by the voice talent from the movie), but most of it falls pretty flat. The movie scenes are mostly shown out of context, so their jokes don’t work very well either. They provide enough information to spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it though, so here is some strong advice – see the movie before you play the game.
The LEGO Movie Video Game offers 15 levels, typical for a LEGO game nowadays, if not a bit on the low side. Although the movie has a nice variety of characters and some great action scenes, the game still struggles to turn 90 minutes of story into 15 levels. As a result, they are somewhat hit-and-miss. The first couple of levels are pretty good, but the Old West levels get a little dull. After the Old West, you arrive at Cloud Cuckoo land, and those levels are where the game truly shines. They are bright, colorful, and for the most part, visually spectacular. They are also a delight to experience, as these are also the levels where Traveller’s Tales let their imaginations run wild. It is here where you will build some of the craziest items that you have seen in a Lego game. After Cloud Cuckoo land is a bland underwater level, and then some decent but not great material at the end. Fortunately, the levels are on the short side so that the more forgettable ones don’t overstay their welcome. Once you complete the game, you unlock an excellent bonus level that is easily one of my favorite Lego levels of all time. It is a great way to pay tribute to both the movie and the hobby, and it is worth getting through the game just to see it.
One thing that LEGO game fans may find a bit disorienting is how little time it takes to reach 100%, or close to it. There are only 70 gold bricks in the game. You get 25 of those just by completing the game and the bonus level. You get another 15 by filling up the money meter (called The Special in this game), which is easier here than it has been in previous Lego games. The remaining 30 require a little more work, but not a lot. You don’t have to find any hidden characters to unlock them – you just need to buy them. There are no hidden vehicles to find or collect. There are still 20 red bricks to collect, but the hub areas in between the levels are very small and the red bricks are easy to find. After putting a lot of hours into LEGO Harry Potter and the LEGO superheroes games, I found the relative ease of collecting everything in this game to be refreshing. Gamers who want to get more mileage out of their purchase may be less satisfied. Your mileage may vary.
With all of the LEGO games pouring onto the market nowadays, The LEGO Movie Video Game is an easy one to overlook. It has enough to offer to make it worth your while though, and its short length should make it easier to take on if you are suffering from LEGO game fatigue. If you are a fan of the movie, then this game makes a good companion for it.