Bricky ver­sions of beloved fran­chises might be a hard sell, but there’s noth­ing quite like the LEGO games

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - CONTENTS - Alex Nel­son

How­ever you chose to cat­e­go­rize the main­line LEGO games (there are a num­ber of con­tentious cri­te­ria to con­sider), there have been a rel­a­tively large num­ber of en­tries in a short space of time.

Over 20 of the blocky ac­tion­ad­ven­ture games have graced Xbox con­soles in the 13 years since LEGO

Star Wars’ 2005 re­lease, each giv­ing a mar­ginal up­date on a tried-andtested for­mula. But though they rarely bring any­thing new to the ta­ble be­tween each re­lease, they are still a re­li­able source of fun, met with praise for each new in­stal­ment. But why?

The an­swer is sim­ple: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. When LEGO Star

Wars was first an­nounced, few could have ex­pected it would be the first game in a long-line of tie-ins that would still be see­ing new re­leases over a decade later. A new Star Wars game? Yes please! One in which ev­ery­thing’s made out of LEGO? Err, well… But it proved a sur­prise suc­cess—a plas­tic ren­di­tion of Ge­orge Lu­cas’ sprawl­ing space opera was some­thing gamers never knew they needed—and even man­aged to make

Episode I’s trade em­bar­goes fun. The premise is sim­ple: You guide a cast of Minifig­ures through lev­els based on key mo­ments from pop cul­ture sta­ples, be that iconic movie mo­ments, comic book cru­sades, or com­pletely orig­i­nal sce­nar­ios in­volv­ing your fa­vorite char­ac­ters.

Bash­ing the LEGO-made as­sets within a scene re­wards you with a sat­is­fy­ing shower of sep­a­rated blocks and shiny studs—which work as in-game cur­rency— and cer­tain ob­jects will break down into con­stituent parts, which you can then re­build in a whirl­wind of plas­tic into some­thing new, of­ten key to mak­ing it to a level’s next sec­tion. There are puz­zles too, which usu­ally re­quire the player to make use of the two on­screen char­ac­ters’ com­bined abil­i­ties—per­fect for drop-in, dropout co-op. Split-screen, co­op­er­a­tive mul­ti­player is some­thing which all the LEGO games come with as stan­dard, and in an age where that is dy­ing a slow death, they present us with re­peated re­minders of its ne­ces­sity. Work­ing to­gether with a friend to go on a stud-strewn ram­page is an ab­so­lute blast, with stretches of LEGO-smash­ing chaos only punc­tured by con­sid­ered mo­ments to con­tem­plate a puz­zle’s so­lu­tion.

Piece by piece

It’s all de­liv­ered with such charm too. For an idea, imag­ine Pi­rates Of The Caribbean’s Satur­day mati­nee stylings as told with the Bri­tish hu­mor of a Cheshire pro­duc­tion stu­dio, or if Les­lie Nielsen’s spoofhu­mor popped up in the griz­zled fan­tasy realms of Lord Of The Rings. Ear­lier it­er­a­tions de­liv­ered their sto­ries through noth­ing more than slap­stick prat­falls and barely de­ci­pher­able grunts; that al­lowed for all man­ner of sight gags and hu­mor­ous ref­er­ences, but a de­cent grasp of the orig­i­nal ma­te­rial was a help. More re­cent games have au­dio and di­a­logue ripped right from the bigscreen ad­ven­ture they are por­tray­ing, which re­ally gives them that ‘game-ofthe-movie’ feel while re­tain­ing all the silli­ness you’d ex­pect.

You will quickly find your­self want­ing to see what quirky de­tail the an­i­ma­tors have man­aged to get into even the most ob­scure char­ac­ters’ idle an­i­ma­tions. The mo­ment I un­locked a LEGO Dory, and it slowly dawned on me that the stars of other Pixar fran­chises were to be present in the re­cent LEGO The In­cred­i­bles, a huge, beam­ing grin ripped across my face.

There is of­ten talk of the lack of proper videogame adap­ta­tions of big-screen fa­vorites, usu­ally cit­ing the fact that his­tor­i­cally they’ve al­ways been ‘a bit crap’ as the rea­son for their ab­sence. But the LEGO games have been buck­ing that trend of medi­ocrity with every new re­lease. It’s hard to say which of the games is the best. 2013’s LEGO Mar­vel

Su­per­heroes in­tro­duced fully open­world sec­tions be­tween its lev­els, so it stands out as a high­light, while

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens is gen­uinely one of the best Star Wars games you could ever play. What­ever the next game is af­ter

LEGO DC Su­per-Vil­lains, you can be sure it will be worth your time, and they are the kind of games that give hope to even the most left­field of tie-ins. The re­cent re­veal of Gears Pop! had me scratch­ing my head, but then I re­mem­bered my love of the LEGO games. It is sur­pris­ing that more pub­lish­ers have not tried their hand at craft­ing a sim­i­larly un­likely mash-up. But then, maybe the LEGO games sim­ply can­not be beaten.

“LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens is one of the best Star Wars games you could ever play”

be­low See­ing how LE GO games im­i­tate the orig­i­nal art­work is all part of the fun.

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