Lego Movie 2 (1)

I’ll start this off with a slight confession: I adore the LEGO games. Sure, they’re all incredibly similar and formulaic, but I find there’s something comforting to that. The franchise has always been a “bubblegum series” to me; you know they’re not gonna blow you away with innovation, but they’re fun and that’s all they’re trying to be. To me, LEGO games are a pizza on a Friday evening after a long week, or an episode of Monster Factory when my anxiety is playing up. They’re enjoyable little distractions populated with familiar characters and I find that sometimes that’s just what I need after losing at Apex Legends too much.

So I was really disappointed by The LEGO Movie 2: The Video Game and for the rest of this review, I’ll be referring to it as LEGO 2 because that is a title with two “the’s” in it and I don’t have the time.

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Possibly the largest departure from the modern generation of LEGO games, LEGO 2 draws deeply from LEGO Dimensions. Rather than being focused around a singular franchise or film’s events divided neatly into contained levels, LEGO 2 has many unique sand-box worlds themed around various locations from The LEGO Movie 2. An impressive number of them are included as well, with players being able to visit The Old West, Middle Zealand (a personal favourite) and The Sorting Place to name but a handful. Every world looks distinctive and sticks faithfully to the movie’s aesthetic, with nearly everything being built out of LEGO, a detail many previous games in this franchise have long since cheated at.

The story loosely follows the events of the film and I say loosely because there isn’t much of a story in this game. What supplements a narrative of any kind is a series of narration accompanied by some voiceless cutscenes that are so bizarrely edited and paced I wasn’t sure what was going on half the time. You travel to all the locations seen in the film, but they aren’t really linked further than “find you friends”. The narrative exists purely as a tool to introduce the mechanics of the game as well the different main characters you can play as.

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It’s worth mentioning that characters play a lot differently in this game. Previous LEGO games have always boasted huge rosters and while many characters may have played similarly, there was always enough variety to keep things fresh. In LEGO 2 every character plays exactly the same, with puzzles coming from clunkily switching to different items available to everyone rather than snappily swapping characters fit with unique tools. You cannot fathom my disappointment when I unlocked The Flash and found he ran at exactly the same speed as Surfer Dave.

The core gameplay of LEGO 2, however, is largely unchanged. Each of the worlds you’ll visit are populated with a series of collectables to find in the final pursuit of reaching that ever elusive 100% level completion screen. These take the forms of hidden power blocks scattered around the areas to random quests handed out by NPC’s. Unfortunately, there’s not much depth to these assignments. Fetch quests, escort missions, time trial races or combat sections with LEGO’s signature “square, square, square” fighting system are about as varied as the game gets. It doesn’t take long for tedium to set in and I found myself reluctant to run through each world (at a pace that seems slightly too slow to be fun) in search of new quest markers.

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Ah, but what do you receive for completing said quests? Good question from the front row, thanks for coming along. Please, you can put your hand down now, I have seen you although I appreciate your enthusiasm. You’ll always get one of the aforementioned power blocks as well as a blueprint for a structure or vehicle which feeds into the other core part of the game: Building your very own LEGO city. I’ll admit, when the game provided me a large open space all my own and told me to go wild building my own town, I was ecstatic. It took me back to Toy Story 3: The Video Game which had a similar “toy box” mode, if that’s a reference anyone remembers.

As excited as I was, I was quickly disappointed in the system and how meaningless it truly is. Slamming down buildings and decorations around your own LEGO world starts out fun but it’s barren. People don’t interact with them, you can’t enter any of the structures and the space is designed in such a way that it limits what you can place and where. It’s a really clever idea that almost feels almost incomplete it’s so sparse in content. What’s meant to act as a means of player expression and freedom largely turns into a chore. What makes matters worse is that to unlock different buildings, vehicles and characters, players will have to sift through a loot box system and hope something interesting drops.

I’m not saddened by the inclusion of the loot boxes themselves; the game practically throws them at you for free, like someone who walks around a pub offering samples to crappy alcohol, so much so that I was dreading finding them. They take SO LONG to open. The thrill of seeing what new item you could possibly unlock is defeated by how monotonous and dull it is to sift through the same animation for several minutes just to be told you’ve got a duplicate (which, fortunately, are compensated for). I should note that as far as I know you can’t spend real world money on these “relics”, only in game studs of which you’ll have literally millions in a few hours.

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I suppose what this is building up to is a question about change. As somewhat of a fan of the LEGO franchise, I appreciate this pivot in direction. It’s a breath of fresh air when many of the newer titles have begun feeling more formulaic than ever. Yet I can’t excuse the poor implementation of many of the systems at work here. LEGO 2 feels like a beta test for an idea that still needs to be expanded upon and while it introduces some neat ideas to the series, as well as having an abundance of content, the final product lacks any meaningful impact.

Last Updated: March 8, 2019

The LEGO Movie 2: The Video Game
A new twist on the old formula, The LEGO Movie 2: The Video Game offers up some new mechanics and gameplay but fails at delivering an experience that is either memorable or fun
The LEGO Movie 2: The Video Game was reviewed on PlayStation 4
57 / 100

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