LEGO GAMES: A RETROSPECTIVE

 So the plan at the time I originally wrote this was to review the new DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, “Dead Money”, but since the PlayStation Network is down I felt I may as well do a retrospective review while I waited for L.A. Noire to come out or for PSN to come back online (whichever came first).

 

Everybody loves LEGO, don’t they? Yes you do. You at the back, sir, don’t pretend you don’t. Small blocks of every colour imaginable (well, about 6 colours) that you can mould into any shape you want, so long as what you’re going for is an even more pixel-y representation of the aliens from Space Invaders, and millions of simultaneous cries of expletives as parents step on the 12,000 blocks of the stuff that their shitty little kids leave lying on every floor of every room in the house.  In fact, so popular did these toys/ burglar deterrents prove to be that the company decided video games would be a fantastic way to expand their empire.

So it started with a game about Episodes 1-3 of the Star Wars franchise, and surely I can’t have been the only one at the time to think that this wasn’t exactly the strongest platform to start a series of games on, what with Episodes 1-3 being the single worst trilogy in the history of the entire world. However, despite the fact that you have to actually play as Jar-Jar for a short amount of time, the game turned out to be a huge success. After the Star Wars game came, well, another Star Wars game (stick to what you know).  But eventually the company came to their senses, stopped their little George Lucas love-in, and started making games from other film franchises. Or maybe not. Their next game? Indiana Jones. Fan-fucking-tastic. Anyway, someone must have had a quiet word, because LEGO promptly removed their collective heads from George Lucas’ arse and made games about Batman,Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. Oh, and another 2 Star Wars games and a sequel to Indiana Jones, although we don’t count the second Indy game because it includes the fourth film (which we definitely do NOT count as an Indiana Jones film).

LEGO games have always been wrongly classed as kiddy games, which is absolutely not true, because people almost always confuse “kiddy” with “family”. LEGO games are very much a set of games for all the family, in that the levels are complex enough to keep regular gamers from getting bored, and yet accessible enough to allow new gamers to complete the levels without too much trouble. People will point to the humour in the game and say it’s a bit childish even for a family game, and in a way they’re right, but at least it’s trying to be fun and accessible, and for that they should be applauded. Some of the levels are actually quite inventive, and the gameplay stays simple but still at the point where you have to use your brain occasionally i.e. head forward, jump over some holes, find key, use key, punch bad guys, escape wherever you are.

On top of that I have to say that one MAJOR positive from these games over the movies is that you don’t have to hear the characters talk. Seriously, you don’t even know how much that means to me. I don’t want to hear Short Round telling Indy that “playing with you no fun”, I don’t want to hear Ron Weasley say “bloody hell!” every 3 bastard seconds, and I certainly don’t want to hear Anakin Skywalker whinge like he has an emo fringe that reaches through the floor to the room below, so the fact that this has been taken out gives it about a million cool points.

It’s very much a game for the family in many respects, especially seeing as dying has no consequences other than losing a few coins that you gather throughout the levels, and it is the single most satisfying thing in the world to run up to Jar-Jar and punch him to death with your lightsaber over and over and over again. Honestly, you could spend hours and hours doing it and all you’d get is a strong sense of accomplishment. And why? Because the support characters you get lumbered with in every single mission of every single game are the most unhelpful bastards you could possibly imagine. You could be set upon by thousands of storm troopers and your support character will decide the most helpful thing to do would be to turn into R2D2 and go look for something that doesn’t exist over the other side of the room. Alternatively, you can be battling the giant spider from Chamber Of Secrets and Ron will decide the best plan of action will be to put a stupid grin on his face and wave to his mum who’s just turned up off-screen to make sure he isn’t getting into too much trouble.

The other problem I have with the game is that the aiming system is a big bundle of arse to the point when it becomes genuinely infuriating. For example, Batman will often prefer to throw his Batarangs at a streetlight than the Joker, Indiana Jones’ gun almost always aims at a particularly menacing pot-plant just off screen than the hordes of murderous Nazi’s rushing towards him with their large guns aimed squarely at his testicles, and Harry Potter will regularly cast wingardium leviosa at a small, non-existent mouse scuttling across the back of the screen rather than, say, the extremely powerful wizard casting spells to turn him into even more of a whiny, angsty man-bitch.

So what next for the LEGO games? Well there’s a Pirates of the Caribbean game coming out for some reason which I’m not really planning on getting yet, and after that nothing as of yet. Although if I was to offer an opinion, if they were to make a game where a LEGO character of your choice is dropped in a room with Jar-Jar, Anakin Skywalker, Short Round and Jack Sparrow with the sole instruction to go to town on them with whatever weapons you can find, I would most definitely pay for it. And if they don’t do it then they clearly have no ambition and can fuck right off. Anyway, I’m off to go play with someDuplo now, just to make a point…

 

Quick P.S. on last week’s review, since finishing the article I’ve completed Portal 2 another 4 times and I’m STILL not bored of it, so… 

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