Set in the Land of Chima, this latest LEGO installment tells the tale of a land filled with animal tribes involved in a long running conflict. Eight distinct tribes exist in Chima including Raven, Eagle, Lion, Wolf, Crocodile, Gorilla, Bear and Rhino. These eight tribes are waging war, all vying for a natural resource known as CHI, which is the source of life and also offers other forms of power. At its core, Legends Of Chima follows Laval as he attempts to stop Prince Cragger of the Crocodile clan from obtaining the triple CHI power.
Legends Of Chima is full of Cheesy dialogue and rough voice acting, much like old school cartoons. Cutscenes are awkward to watch, but the standard LEGO game play is still here. As mentioned earlier, the Crocodile tribe’s Prince Cragger is after the triple CHI power, which if obtained will give him immense strength. Naturally it is up to the heroes of the other animal tribes to unite and stop Prince Cragger from completing this dastardly task.
Each tribe comes with its own unique abilities. Laval and his companions are able to explore the world and what it offers, though only certain parts of the world open up after Laval obtains a new ally with a new ability. Some techniques have been borrowed from another game, LEGO Undercover City, such as the free-run moves like running along walls, bouncing from wall to wall and jumping from post to post.
Much like older LEGO games, Laval’s Journey returns to the hub system, with a central area connecting each level throughout the game. There isn’t as much of an open world-sandbox present, but being on a handheld this makes sense. Missions are fairly short, lasting about fifteen minutes or so. The game is clearly aimed at a young audience as it holds players hands throughout most of the adventure.
Large arrows constructed out of LEGO studs guide your path throughout the game, even though at the end of most cut scenes the game literally shows you where you should move to next. At times Laval’s journey seemed too be trying to guide my own journey almost too much, though I felt that the younger audience would probably appreciate this if they were relatively new to games or not that skilled.
Numerous side quests are available. They generally begin with a character asking you to fetch an item from a different world. These quests are a nice bonus, adding more optional content for those who love exploring their surroundings. On the flip side, these side quests tend to end up being repetitive quests with little to hold your interest. It’s safe to say that most players will take anywhere between eight to ten hours to complete the game. Locating every collectible and completing every quest 100% may take closer to twenty hours.
Legends of Chima includes the Nintendo 3DS’s StreetPass feature. It has been integrated into the title in such a way that allows players to ‘gift’ unlockable characters to other players through the service. This feature is neat, but being that it isn’t all that hard to find the characters yourself it doesn’t really make trading characters all that exciting.
Visually Legends of Chima is somewhat disappointing. Characters lack detail, environments feel empty with short draw distances, and odd fluctuations in framerates damage the experience. LEGO games have always sat at a solid 60 FPS on the console, but Laval’s journey drops even below 30 fps at times. It should be noted that a patch is now available that smooths the games framerate issues out a bit while also decreasing the load times. Naturally the game uses the handhelds 3D visuals as expected, and it does add a bit of depth to the land of Chima. Unfortunately it also impacts the games visual performance even more when the 3D mode is on. Overall the environments do the job visually; however, the character models are quite rough and the choppy performance issues really impact the game’s visual experience negatively.
LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey is a decent LEGO game that comes closer to the console LEGO games more so than any other portable LEGO games have in the past. Though it does have its flaws, it can’t be denied that Legends of Chima is fun. Adventuring through the colorful lands and collecting unlockables is addictive and entertaining; however, it frustrates me that it is presented so poorly with such awful performance on the 3DS hardware. At the end of the day Legends of Chima is worth a play through if you’re a fan of the LEGO franchise, especially for the young fans, though it probably will not win over too many new fans with its rough presentation.