Every time you see the logo for The Lego Movie franchise, you probably get that obnoxious song stuck in your head. You know the one — everything is awesome! Despite its persistence, the song is part of the charm of these films. It sets the stage for a rather idiosyncratic but fun adventure that manages to pull at least a smile or two out of you — and maybe even a tear — by the time the credits wind up. The characters are heartfelt and harbor a constant yearning to rediscover themselves while taking the audience with them. It really takes a person capable of eating puppies to hate the very fiber that wove these movies together… But then we have The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame.
It manages to capture a fraction of the film’s joyous essence. And unlike its movie cousin, it lacks a beating heart.
The bricks just don’t stack up
The game follows the general narrative beats of the film as Emmett and Lucy seek to uncover the mysteries behind strange alien visitors that are seemingly hostile towards the residents of the wasteland. Players are simply along for that ride while completing all sorts of random tasks along the way. Essentially, you can expect to roam several worlds building contraptions from instructions where needed, button mashing to attack hostiles, and performing a bit of guided platforming.
If you’re familiar with the bulk of the LEGO games available, well, this ain’t that. Instead of a story-driven experience presenting creative puzzles and challenges to solve before progressing along a guided path, players are dropped in the middle of a sandbox world that isn’t very densely populated — and neither are many of the worlds that follow. Players can then follow the main quest line or find random side quests to complete.
The game lacks the charm of the films, and even other LEGO games, by half-baking the colorful characters of this story. NPCs like Batman or Unikitty are providing sidequests and feel like pale imitations of the characters on the silver screen. Even Emmett and Lucy are largely reduced to being an outfit that can be swapped in an out with so many others. It’s like the cheap novelty of seeing animatronic versions of characters at an amusement park.
Too much kragle, not enough pizazz
Sidequests dot each of the worlds. Most of them amount to using an item given to you by an NPC, selecting the right schematics to build with one button press, or fetching an object. After experiencing several, I began to ignore them if I could help it. But they typically provide special master blocks as a reward that are required to unlock other worlds. So you will be forced to complete some of these. The main quests are really the most engaging piece of the game. They offer a sense of direction and purpose and don’t feel like mindless chores. There’s one “boss” fight in the wasteland at the beginning of the game that was particularly fun!
The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame offers a wide range of collectibles including outfits, weapons, and stickers you can paint the landscapes with. There is some fun to be had in collecting. But after a while, that loses its luster. The outfits don’t have any real effect on the gameplay. They have no unique abilities like the different characters within other LEGO games. The weapons are fun, but again, they end up being more of the same standard style attack whether it’s a melee or projectile weapon.
While I understand that a 30-year-old man may not be the target demographic, I did actually play through the bulk of this game with my 5-year-old son. His entire reaction echoes this review. There were moments where he was having fun, which typically involved actual story moments from the film or finding new wacky outfits. But largely, he was actually asking me after 20-30 minutes of play time if we could play something else.
The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame sits in a weird place between licensed LEGO adventures and a “create-your-own-world” style LEGO game like, well, LEGO Worlds. It’s half of each game, but the two halves never manage to make a whole. It teases creativity with its various builds and outfits but doesn’t actually let players go bonkers and truly create something. Likewise, it alludes to a narrative that it sacrifices for the sake of a bit of freedom.
Despite the tone of this review, The LEGO Game 2 Videogame is not terrible. But even my 5-year-old son feels more at home in LEGO games like LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and even the recent LEGO The Incredibles. These games are imbued with a brick-ton of character that makes experiencing these LEGO-ized romps a blast. The heart of The LEGO Movie film series did not translate to The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame, unfortunately. The empty world, mundane gameplay, and cardboard cutout characters make this one a bit more difficult to enjoy. In Bricksburg, everything is meh.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Accountant by day, video games enthusiast by night. Somewhere in between all of that, I’m a husband, dad, and generally a giant man-child, too. If a game is all about action, there’s a safe bet I’m playing it. I started laying waste to virtual worlds as a youngin’ on the ol’ Atari and haven’t stopped since.