The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame Review
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part was a life-changing experience for me. The film’s blunt look at traditional masculinity and growing up awoke something – maybe even multiple things – inside of me, that I haven’t been able to shake since it happened, and to be honest, I think I’m better off this way. Through its characters arcs and aggressively catchy music written by E=MC Vagina himself Jon Lajoie, The Lego Movie 2 taught me that I don’t need to let my past define who I am today. It also taught me the ease and importance of allowing myself to be happy.
Which is why it breaks my heart that the film’s video game tie-in bears less than a fraction of the movie’s charm and feels more like the cynical cash grab that video game adaptations of films usually are. The core gameplay is as simple as can be, helping citizens of the LEGO Universe in exchange for Master Pieces that let you advance to the next world, where you’ll mindlessly wander between objectives through janky controls and a camera that’s more of an obstacle on its own than anything else. There’s a handful of creative ideas that are either half-realized or ripped from other game design tropes, but almost nothing saves it from being a frustratingly bland experience rife with performance issues.
A House Divided Against Itself…Would Still Be Better Than This
Mother always taught me to give compliments before criticism, so let’s start with the good. In passing – and only in passing – this game is one of the most colorful and visually appealing games I’ve ever seen, which is on brand for the LEGO titles. Some interesting mechanics include a scanner that nets you new blueprints for whatever you scan, as well as a sticker gun, brick-breaking power gloves, and a paint wand that can color specific surfaces. Players can build solutions on a whim with their master builder sheet such as sprinklers, vehicles, and whole shops, as well as using “build attacks” during combat. These acknowledgments are about as much kindness I have to hand this game, as you’ll spend the entire game repeating all of these mechanics, with the exception of a couple of uninspiring boss fights.
And now for the criticism. Things are fishy right off the bat as the game just sorta *starts* with no pomp or circumstance or regard for its own existence, using what looks like a high-school animation project rendition of the film’s opening scenes. Already, this is a needless bastardization of the film it’s based on, as that scene has existed since the first film’s release back in 2014. Also, the LEGO games are published by Warner Bros. Interactive, so there’s almost no reason whatsoever that this game should not be using footage from the film itself, or rushing through important plot points the way it does. You’ll find that none of the film’s voice actors showed up for this adaptation with the possible exception of Elizabeth Banks, the voice of Wildstyle, as she needs to pop up every 10 seconds to tell you what’s happening on the screen in front of you, whether it be a tutorial or extended plot that wasn’t in the movie because it makes no sense at all for these events to transpire, even in the already all-over-the-place world of the LEGO Movie.
We Are Here to Destroy You
The gameplay follows the same loop that most LEGO games do – collect the bits, build the thing, punch the guy, go to the next level – but this time around you’re tasked with collecting Master Pieces, which you’ll get from completing main objectives, helping other characters out, or just finding them laying in the dirt like any good tangible fabric of the universe. Collecting enough Master Pieces unlocks new worlds, including side-levels like the Old West and Middle Zealand, though the main path will often walk you to the end of a world only to tell you you’re shortchanged and have to go back and paint Green Lantern’s house or something. Sometimes you’ll get to ride raptors, solve a puzzle, or fight a giant boss, but nothing in this game is particularly exciting. I found myself entirely apathetic towards failure as the instant respawns destroy any sense of consequence, and my only motivation was getting to a point that I could personally deem “enough of that,” so that I could get back to playing a game that didn’t make me feel like an idiot for looking forward to it.
But wait, there’s more, unfortunately. Players can collect Relics which are basically loot boxes the game rewards you with for just about everything, and they contain blueprints for new things to build, new characters, and accessories for you to customize yourself with. You also get a camera, which makes for some cute photo opportunities if you can wrangle it into the right angle. You can also pick up wildlife in some areas to use as a weapon which is just…bizarre. These things are entertaining for, at the very most, an entire second before the cynicism of the rest of the game sets back in.
What’s really telling of this game’s quality is the performance issues though, and there’s so many of them you’d think it was a major online multiplayer title during its first weekend. It’s actually a relatively small game all things considered, but there’s so much pop in, framerate drops, screen tearing, button delays – and don’t even get me started on the camera, that thing is obviously possessed by one of the cameras from Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, swinging wildly around the character into angles where it’s borderline impossible to see what’s happening around you. The game also insists on making sure the dialogue is in the dead center of the screen whenever you talk to someone for some reason, which is just not useful. On top of that, all of the menus are blocks on blocks on somewhat frustrating to navigate blocks – you’ll often have to reach 3 menus deep to get to a quest item that you need to build, even though there’s also a rotating menu for different items to build on the fly. When you speak to a new character to take up a side mission, it’ll abandon the one you were on before, which there is no reason for – game design moved past so many of these issues ages ago.
As someone who was so genuinely moved and inspired by The LEGO Movie 2, it breaks my heart to see that the game was rushed to market and clearly the developers weren’t given the resources to properly respect it, or its audience. This game is the bare minimum of creativity. I struggled to repel the mental image of wealthy executives frothing at the mouth at the idea of kids buying this game expecting to have a fun and fulfilling adventure. Maybe some kids will enjoy it – but they’d be better off just buying Minecraft, or another game that actually allows them to nurture their creative habits. This just feels like a frustrating cash grab. I take no joy in being so harsh on this game, as I’m sure many of the people who worked on it did their best in what clearly little time they were given – and hey, game development is hard – but they, and LEGO’s target audience, deserve better than this.
***PS4 code provided by the publisher***
- Super Colorful and Shiny
- A Few Creative Ideas
- Plagued with Performance Issues
- Framerate Drops, Pop-In and More
- None of the Charm of the Movie
- Clunky Menus
- Stupid Camera