The LEGO Movie Video Game – As We Play

As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time. All feedback on this concept is welcome.

Arguably one of the most pleasant family gaming experiences ever created; Lego games are quite frankly the best thing ever for blasting away the age-gap between the young, old and indifferent. I personally have to play them all with eight year old son, mainly because he’s smarter than me when it comes to solving the puzzles. It’s fair to say that while the “I’m-stuck-smash-everything” approach doesn’t make for the most difficult form of gameplay, there are some particularly devious gameplay quirks embedded in the Lego games to help enrich both the story and the overall experience.

I was completely beside my eight year old self when I first saw The Lego Movie advertised and verbally exclaimed my excitement to an entire cinema audience that I had to go and see it for my birthday. As for the inevitable movie/game tie-in, not only was my inner eight year old self screaming at me, but my eight year old son joined in as well. 

Coming off the incredibly well-polish LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, my expectations were, understandably, very high.

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Loading up The Lego Movie Videogame is a familiar affair. You’re presented with fancy Lego brick scenery and a fly-over-through Lego city. That said, it strikes me that the developers already seem to have cut corners with this opening. It’s not truly rendered for the PS4: rather it’s a video complete with video codec conversion artefacts and low-frame-rate. This results in jumpy camera panning as it flies left and right through the streets and over rooftops. Perhaps this is the first glimpse of the nature of movie tie-ins; the pressure to release on time and the necessity to create efficiency through reduced effort. I push on past the menu screen in the hopes that this isn’t a sign of things to come.

Sound and imagery, on the whole, appear to have been ripped directly from the film, except for the in-game voice-overs. It’s clear that the voice actors are very good at their job and while not exact renditions of their on-screen actor counterparts, they are good enough to suspend your disbelief for the most part. This is, until they crack a joke that would have worked on film within a focused scene, but not when you’re smashing some blocks up and a throwaway, out of context retort pops out. Not to say that The Lego Movie Videogame isn’t funny, but there are times when it doesn’t quite work, leaving you questioning whether the source material of the film was lacking something, which it wasn’t.

Playing a Lego game invariably means that, at some point, you will be playing with someone else in the widely accustomed drop-in-drop-out-co-op mode. Grabbing two controllers and giving one to my son, the game starts out by presenting a clip from the movie. Watching the opening clips is much the same as having watched the movie trailer; it gives you some of the main plot points and humorous situations Emmet (the story’s main protagonist) finds himself in. I figure that’s a great thing, seeing as I paid to see it in the cinema only a few weeks before.

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Once the cutscenes are over, off you go smashing things up and walking around. As with other Lego games, you can expect to see a few new features or activities that you’ve not come across in previous Lego games. For instance, the playable map menus or the split screen rotation and re-sizing in the likes of Indiana Jones and the RTS-like levels of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I had, for some reason, expected to see expansive, fully roam-able cityscapes in the Lego Movie Videogame, but instead, the new features appear to be a radial character selection menu that can only be displayed using the change character button, a building method that invokes the need to highlight key objects across the entire screen so they can be mixed together and built into other items, a pick-the-right-piece mini-game, and one or two other mini-games. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Emmet can’t build anything unless he has the Lego instructions. Go watch the film, there’s a good reason.

With Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Travellers Tales had such a large scope of things to touch upon that every scene and every part of the in-game progression gave you a sense of new, even if it was familiar. Here, within the telling of the Lego Movie story, the cut-scenes keep you on track with the progress, however it never feels like an accurate representation of a particular point of the story told in the movie.  The focus of the game is to give you a cutscene, a playable area and then another cut-scene. It’s almost as if the only reason you’d play the Lego Movie Videogame is so you could watch the large movie clips taken directly from the film, rather than the experience of playing the game itself.

The Lego Movie Videogame is fraught with other occasional problems that occur without any real warning. Characters get caught up on scenery far too often, save points don’t work as described when you try to re-load your progress and sometimes the mini games are unresponsive and glitchy, resulting in you having to start a level anew. Each problem has a workaround of sorts, but the Lego Movie Videogame has some issues that don’t typically dog other Lego games.

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One of the key progression elements of any Lego game are the studs which are used to buy other characters and so forth. These can also be utilized on the free play versions of the story levels. The problem here is that the story element of the game ushers you along too quickly; locking you into moments of player inactivity while plot-points are being made. Because of that, you lose the capability to move around and collect studs.  I also found that the lifespan of studs on-screen would continue to time out while the plot-points were being played. Just be wary to destroy and collect everything before trying to rush into using keys or activating things.

It’s easy to be over critical of the Lego Movie Videogame, but other than occasional to semi-frequent game breaking bugs that can occur, it is fun to play and has some laugh out loud moments too. While not the best Lego game ever – that mantle goes to Lego Marvel Super Heroes – you will struggle not to enjoy it. That is, of course, providing you can live with the in-game hiccups. Perhaps wait until you’ve seen the film, then wait until the bugs have been patched out before you pick it up.

Areas for Development

  • Characters get stuck on the scenery
  • Mini-games glitch out and cause you to reload levels
  • Saving doesn’t always work as it should
  • Numerous bugs
  • Over simplistic puzzles
  • Framerate is jumpy
  • Studs timeout during cut-scenes
  • Out of context character quips out of sync while playing the game

Final Analysis

This is a vibrant and fun Lego World, filled with vintage Lego humour and remains incredibly faithful to the film’s story. It’s great for fans of the movie, but unfortunately suffers for rushed development and has several game breaking bugs which affect the enjoyment of the overall experience. Not befitting of standard Lego game quality, but a few patches could definitely help bring the quality back up to where it should be.

Technical Competency – 5/10

Graphic/Sound Quality – 5/10

Network Stability – N/A

Overall – 5/10

(These grades assess our playthrough, taking into consideration how many (if any) bugs were encountered, whether there were any interruptions in gameplay and the product’s final technical state. These scores, coupled with the Final Analysis and Areas for Development, are suggestions for future patches and updates which the developers could (and in our opinion, should) explore. These scores are separate to our DLC/Expansion Reviews but link into our Patch/Firmware Reviews.)

(These scores are not designed as a grading system to determine the entertainment value of a product and should not be treated as such..)