Platform: PlayStation 4
Review Date: 9/9/20
"The Incredibles" may seem like an odd choice for a Lego game and the source material is admittedly pretty thin. The game starts with a retelling of "The Incredibles 2" followed by the original film, which is told as a flashback. It's a strange decision from a storytelling perspective, but I suppose the marketing experts wanted to capitalize on the freshness of the sequel and the social awareness around the film. The flashback chapters are honestly more fun to play, which actually maintains the game's momentum and ends on a high note. And if you don't want to play through the stories, there are also ten crime wave missions to tackle in Municiberg and New Urbem, and dozens of side missions, races, and Pixar bricks to be found.
Just like previous Lego games, once you complete the story missions, "free play" becomes available, where you can revisit those levels in search of hidden mini-kits. However, those are the only collectibles in the story levels. All of the other bricks and collectibles are found in the world map, which consists of ten distinct districts. Challenges are rewarded with gold bricks, which unlock characters. The characters are cleverly sealed in minifig bags that you have to tear open, so each character is a surprise. Vehicles are unlocked through missions, although there's hardly any reason to use them. The only time that you need a vehicle is to complete a speedboat race. Cars and motorcycles are difficult to control and there's constantly traffic in the way. They might be slightly faster than Dash, but Dash has considerably more maneuverability and can avoid obstacles much easier. Each district comes with its own challenges, like tearing down posters, destroying malfunctioning ATMs, cleaning up garbage, and the like. These require scouring every nook and cranny of the world including underwater, which can be very laborious. It's hard to keep track of everywhere you've been and all the things you've collected, so that last handful of hidden items can be brutal. And there's no detector brick to help you!
Special powers are granted through red bricks, which are rewarded whenever you complete a special Pixar themed "family build." These also unlock characters from other Pixar films including "Cars", "Finding Dory", "Up", "WALL-E", "A Bug's Life", "Coco", "Brave", "Toy Story", "Monsters, Inc.", "Ratatouille", "Inside Out", and "The Good Dinosaur." Unlike other Lego games, the red bricks become available automatically and don't have to be purchased. Lego studs are in constant supply and are perhaps TOO easy to collect in this game. I never had to revisit a story level to achieve the super collector stud goals, and there was never a reason to enable a stud multiplier. The only things you can purchase are characters and vehicles, and I still had over four million studs by the time I completed the game.
When I first started playing the game, I didn't like it at all. The forced hand-holding of the first mission was brutal and I found the characters to be extremely irritating and overly chatty. The gameplay improves as the game progresses, but the annoying chattiness continues. It's basically just non-stop family bickering, which is excruciating to listen to. Fortunately, once you get the story missions out of the way, the bickering stops and you just have to put up with the random quips of citizens and whatever characters you choose to play with. All characters come with their own set of special skills (although there might be one or two who have no skills at all), and the variety of powers is a bit overwhelming. Some skills are only used once or twice in the entire game, like Flik's burrowing ability. Other characters have unique abilities that don't serve any purpose, like Woody's ability to summon his horse, Bullseye. Similar to the Lego Marvel and DC superhero games, once you unlock a flying character, the world really opens up and the sense of freedom is liberating. I ended up spending most of the game with Splashdown, who can both fly AND swim. He was my go-to character for almost every challenge.
Presentation wise, the game looks great and similar to every other recent Lego game. The intro bumper is annoyingly long and unskippable, and clocks in at 60 seconds. It includes the Warner Bros. logo, the Traveller's Tales logo, the Lego logo, the Disney logo, and the Pixar logo. It's cute the first time you see it, but it becomes increasingly aggravating each time you start the game. The load times are also painfully long and can take up to two minutes. Between that and the intro bumper, I could literally fix a meal AND eat it before I was able to start playing. Most of the character voices are performed by celebrity impersonators, which are very good for the most part. The only one that didn't really work for me was Mr. Incredible, who sounded too much like Homer Simpson. Fortunately, the audio is crisp, clean, and normalized, so it's easy to hear and understand. This might be a first for a Lego game! Only the levels of the citizens seemed off, which was fine because I really didn't care about what they had to say.
Another improvement is that even though the formula hasn't changed or evolved much, the gameplay itself feels more streamlined. It's also the least buggy Lego game that I've played, and I only ran into four notable bugs. One involved getting stuck in the environment, another trapped me in a level and forced me to quit and restart, a third had me stuck playing as Lightning McQueen and wouldn't let me swap him out, and the fourth involved a road race that Dash refused to run on. This was the most aggravating race of the entire game. I tried using a car instead, but other cars consistently parked in the checkpoints so I couldn't get past them. Maybe I should have tried with McQueen, but I was afraid of getting him stuck again. I finally had to use a flying character hovering just above the ground at turbo speed in order to complete that race, which was pretty infuriating. I also encountered some graphical glitches, including a couple of Pixar builds that failed to register as complete, and the character selection screens for story mode and world mode are jarringly different. While the game starts out rough and takes a few hours to hit its stride, I ultimately enjoyed it quite a bit and finished it in just under thirty hours. Now I'm just waiting for the highly anticipated "Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga", which I feel may be the final entry in the long-running Lego series.