With the release of The LEGO Movie 2 around the corner, it is once again time for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to release a tie in LEGO game for the film. We were fortunate enough to spend a few hours with the upcoming game. Judging from our hands-on time, it seems that The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame could be just as awesome as we hoped.
In recent years, LEGO games haven’t changed much. The formula of running around, collecting a bunch of bricks and studs, building a few objects and smashing some foes has been the mainstay of the series since the first licenced LEGO games. It’s a formula that has started to show its age over the past few years. So, is The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame more of the same?
I was fully expecting the game to just stick to what it’s always done. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that the game added quite a few new twists.
First off, the game does follow the same narrative from the upcoming movie but, instead of using cinematics from the film, it actually has cutscenes that are rendered in-game. These were, for the most part, quite funny and oozed LEGO charm. I couldn’t help but crack a smile.
The last few LEGO games looked surprisingly good for games based on little-multicoloured blocks and, just when I thought LEGO couldn’t look any better, The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame comes around with some surprisingly good-looking visuals. Each LEGO brick and character accurately reflects light off of their shiny surfaces, making them look even more like those little LEGO pieces we’ve all stepped on.
My hands-on session started me off in Bricksburg, which, thanks to an apocalyptic event, has now been renamed Apocalypseburg. A brief tutorial introduced me to one of the changes to the game’s building mechanics. Instead of breaking a bunch of objects and then reassembling them into whatever object is needed to pass a specific obstacle, the game now tasks players with collecting a set amount of various coloured LEGO bricks and then using the brick and a blueprint to build objects.
This gives players more of an incentive to scour their surroundings for the various coloured bricks needed to build, for instance, a jumping pad, in order to reach a certain ledge. It’s not a huge change but it helps keep the tried-and-tested LEGO formula fresh and nudges players into exploring their environment more.
After coming to grips with the new mechanic, I completed a few side-quests which are helpfully indicated by giant question marks. Most of these quests still boiled down to smashing enemies, collecting something or building an object.
Combat in the LEGO games have gone through various iterations. You’ll still be mashing the same button over and over until your opponent bursts into a shower of bricks and studs but now each character has their own specific special Build attack, which can help level the playing field when things get a bit tough.
I also noticed that, except for some occasions where I needed to play as a certain character to progress through an area, most of the playable characters seem to have the same set of moves. The special abilities we’ve seen in previous LEGO games have now been relegated to the objects players are able to build. So, instead of using a character to extinguish a fire, players can now build a sprinkler to accomplish the task.
New characters and items are unlocked by opening relics (basically, loot chests, although these won’t empty your wallet). Relics are found in the various chests that are scattered throughout the game’s locales.
I was able to explore three locales; the aforementioned Apocalypseburg, a floating space area filled with raptors and spacemen, which tasked me with completing a few puzzles in order to move on, and a hub area, which functions sort of like a hybrid version of LEGO Worlds and Minecraft. This was quite a surprise as it’s in this hub world where players will be able to build essentially their own little town using the items and builds they have unlocked. As they build their LEGO town, more people will arrive bringing with them more quests and rewards.
I was happy to see that instead of relying on the repetitive LEGO games formula, The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame is mixing things up a bit and trying to keep it fresh. Where I was initially a bit “meh” about the game, I’m now thoroughly looking forward to its release.