Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Traveler's Tales
Review Date: 6/20/14
As much as I've enjoyed previous LEGO video games, this one is a bit of a letdown and the least fun game in the series. It follows the events of "The LEGO Movie" (2014), but somehow manages to be totally annoying in the process. Like all previous LEGO games, this one features a Story mode and a Free Play mode. You have to play through Story mode in order to unlock Free Play and purchase other characters. Unfortunately, Story mode is tedious and grating, and you want it to end as soon as possible. Thankfully, Free Play is much more enjoyable, but not to the same extent as previous LEGO games.
Ironically, the weakest part of the game is the source material and how it's integrated into the gameplay. The game uses actual clips from the movie to introduce each level, but the style and presentation is SO different from the game's presentation that it creates a HUGE discontinuity that's difficult to reconcile. Additionally, some of the character voices aren't the same as their movie counterparts (most notably Morgan Freeman), which creates another jarring discontinuity. The characters are EXTREMELY chatty, exchanging witty quips and instructing you every step of the way, and you just wish they would shut up. Even worse is the fact that the audio levels are all across the board, so some characters are super loud, while others are barely audible. And if you have the annoying background music playing, it drowns out nearly all of the dialog, so most of the time you don't even know what they're talking about. Turning the ambient music off partly resolves that problem, but introduces other undesirable side effects. The game also has its share of bugs, but they seem random in nature. The first one I encountered locked the game up in the first five minutes, which left a bad initial impression. Apart from several other random freezes that happened when I was just walking around, the most serious game limiting bug was during a boss fight where I had to free a certain character, but they remained floating in the air held by invisible arms that I had already destroyed. That forced a reboot and I had to play the entire level over again.
As I mentioned before, Free Play is much more enjoyable, and mostly because none of the characters talk and you don't have to deal with the visual disruption of watching the cutscenes. In Free Play you can focus on tracking down gold instruction pages and special pants, which count towards your gold brick total. Red bricks can be found and purchased at the various hub locations. There are a total of 96 characters that you can unlock, and while most of them are unassuming citizens of Bricksville, there are some amusing characters like a Yeti, a mummy, and a guy in a panda suit. There are also some DC superheroes like Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, and they have the power of flight. While this makes exploration easier, their range is frustratingly limited, but understandably so. (you don't want them to completely short circuit the level design) The final gold brick can be obtained after you find all of the other collectibles in the game, but two pieces are so infuriatingly difficult that I eventually gave up. The gameplay also introduces two new mini-games into the mix, but they're not particularly fun or interesting. Ultimately, "The LEGO Movie Videogame" is a mixed bag both for fans of the movie and fans of the LEGO video game series. I didn't enjoy the mandatory Story mode at all, but everything after that was fun. Young kids may find the humor and constant hand-holding entertaining, but I found it abrasive and annoying. However, I thoroughly enjoyed playing Unikitty in rage mode, growling "I will end you!"