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The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame – Review
Everything's not so awesome? But hey, it's still good
Okay, let’s set the tone here. I’ve been playing the Lego games for review since 2017 and all of them have been solid, albeit stale for my taste. I wished that the formula gets a shake in my last review.
With The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame, my wish has been granted. TT Fusion, a team under TT Games, actually made changes for this movie tie-in game! After all these years, they did it! With mixed results.
If you’ve played the recent Lego games, you would know what to expect by now presentation wise. Very animated minifig, a lot of objects to smash and see it break satisfyingly. And goofy humour here and there.
Interestingly, The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame relied less of its source material this time. Very little snippets from the film are shown. The voice cast from the movie is not all present here in the game- protagonist Emmet just murmurs sounds like how old Lego games used to, which is fine.
The storytelling also relies more telling than showing. With way too many narrations. And the story suffered as a result. This is no replacement for watching the movie proper.
The sweeping changes, which will be touched shortly, also brings a new UI that feels different from the familiar seen in previous games. And it’s unfortunately bad. It moves a tad sluggish and looks bare bones. The sounds clicks are satisfying but nothing really animates and scrolling through the long lists took longer than I would like.
Just like the previous Lego movie game, the environment is made completely out of Lego bricks. There’s a ton of work here to represent all the models similar to the toys you can buy in stores. I love the fact that in the rare occasion the wall is blocking the camera, the walls not only go opaque but removed partially, exposing the studs. It’s as if the walls are rendered to be Lego bricks, not just a texture.
There are signs of short draw distance and some framerate issues, but it’s not much of a dealbreaker.
The animations are a bit of a mishmash. The Lego movie game brought a lot of the stop motion style to the game. The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame mostly used normal animations bar some exceptions like Unikitty, who can only be animated via the magic of stop motion.
While it’s jarring to see some animations move in different frame rates, they’re still pretty good. Emmet is so stiff he basically just floats upwards when jumping in contrast to the acrobatic Lucy.
Also, minidolls now debut in a Lego game. They don’t have leg articulation, so they flop left and right like how you would try to move them in real life with your hands. Albeit more exaggerated.
The Lego Movie 2 Videogame finally took a big departure from the tried and true Lego game formula. What’s the Lego game formula? You have plenty of characters to choose from each with different abilities to help you progress. There are linear levels designed to be played at least twice to get everything unlocked. More recent games have added open world to the layer as a free-roam activity with side missions sprinkled here and there.
With this game, it’s not a full-on, 3D collect-a-thon platformer. Abilities that lets you progress are now just tools everyone can equip. There’s no real difference when playing one character to another outside of different animations and sounds. You can even mix and match parts of any of the characters as if it’s your custom character.
There are no linear levels, so to say. Everything takes place in one big open world map, with a critical path set of story quest to follow. And each world is littered with collectibles.
The main one is the Master Pieces- you need to have a set minimum of them to unlock the next story world. And there’s plenty, plenty of rewards for discovering every nook and cranny.
The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame passes my basic test to see if it rewards exploration: on level start, turn around and see if there’s something hidden there. More often than not, you will be rewarded for your curiosity and that’s great.
The Lego games ironically have a lot of good destruction for a game series based on a construction toy. At least with the Lego Movie 2 Videogame, building is being put back front and center. A lot of puzzles involved you building certain items you can place freely on the map. It’s not as free-form as you first expected but the slight change of presentation really puts the emphasis that you are a Master Builder.
But unfortunately, it is missing one little ingredient to make it a great platformer: great controls. The game feel is still the same as previous Lego games and that means it’s a litte mushy and mashy. Characters move a little slow and floaty, jumps and ability uses can sometime not register. A lot of tools still use the aiming where you can only move in two axis which works great when levels have fixed camera but not so great in games like this.
Vehicles move laughably slow I find most of the time to just go on foot rather than building up this huge monster truck that feels like pushing a shopping cart through a busy aisle while looking for that one brand of frozen sausages.
Combat is just a matter of mashing one button until you win. Driving cars, boats and T-Rexes with wings instead of legs are disappointingly dull.
Sure, it’s a game series made for kids. But kids also deserve good game feel. It’s okay to make them easy, I just wish controls are tightened up a bit.
But as always, the folks at TT Games certainly put effort and love in the game. Each story world has a boss encounter and each of them involves scaling something to reach its weak point. The first few fights have Shadow Of The Colossus style of scale which is amazing.
Content And Longevity
It took me 8 hours to see the story to the credits roll, and possibly even shorter too if you blazed through it. With only six main worlds plus 1 sandbox world plus five smaller, optional worlds, the game is a little bit on the short side. Like any good collect-a-thons, there’s a secret world to unlock with a hefty Master Piece requirement. It took me up 15 hours until I collect enough pieces to unlock that as well.
The game still supports the usual split-screen co-op play with a friend.
A lot of the missions available still follow what the previous Lego games did so expect the usual race, fight, use this tool and fetch/deliver quests. At least it has some fun writing around it.
Early in the story, you get access to Syspocalypstar, an empty sandbox planet where its inhabitants will ask you to build certain buildings. Also, certain buildings you build will unlock new quests for more Master Pieces.
It’s a fun diversion and can be entertaining to push the limits of the game engine. But it’s not as fully featured as I would want. If there is a terrain editor and a better way to paint ground tiles this would be a pretty nice Lego Worlds mini-game.
The way you collect characters and unlocks are also changed a bit. It has loot boxes.
But wait, don’t go grab your pitchforks. For one, there’s no method on buying any of them with real money. Second, the loot boxes, called relics, can be found in discovery chests that reward exploration. And also, they’re so abundant and can easily farmed. Heck, if you played far enough to reach the secret level, you should have no problems with unlocking all of the items available.
Even with some duplicate drops, you still can easily unlock them all, just not in the order you would like.
The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame deconstructs the usual Lego game formula to mixed results. The game embraces the 3D platforming style of gameplay and level design which should be applauded. It also tries to give more player freedom with a seemingly more building mechanics fit for a Lego game.
However, the changes are not enough to mask its mushy controls and lousy UI design. But at least we are spared from horrendous loot boxes.
The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame is not a substitute for the movie proper, but it’s still a good game to play with a friend. The new changes are welcoming signs and good building blocks toward a better Lego game coming out soon.
Played on base PS4. Review copy provided by the publisher