In the past decade or so, Traveller's Tales has developed quite a resume of impressively fun, yet accessible, Lego video games. We've got Lego Batman, Lego Star Wars, Lego Harry Potter... pretty much any franchise big enough to get licensed by Lego becomes a video game from this creative team. With the Lego Movie dropping a brickload on theaters, Traveller's Tales has seen fit to snap together a tie-in to go along with it.
The format of The Lego Movie Video Game should feel pretty familiar to anyone who has ever sampled any of the previous Traveller's Tales Lego titles. In this outing you experience the story as Emmett, a good-natured everyman Lego Minifig who gets swept up in a multiverse-tastic story about freedom, creativity and Batman. Things are broken up into stages connected by a hub-world you can explore. While the stages are tightly choreographed bits of hand-holding, the hub-world offers more freedom for gamers to explore, unlock and experiment. The stages themselves are fast-paced adventures, usually opening and closing with footage from the movie, and involve constantly shifting styles of gameplay. One moment you'll be running around assembling escape ladders, the next you'll be falling through an endless pit and then next you'll be piloting assault vehicles. There's a decent chunk of combat, but it's all very, very simple and very, very easy. Like all of the entries in the Lego series there's little drawback to death— you simply respawn with full life and lose some money.
Speaking of which, one of the most oddly compelling elements here is the Lego money, which pours from everything. Anything you smash will rain silver and gold coins, which you can use to unlock additional characters and secrets. The hub-world, in particular, serves as a great source of Lego income, allowing you to pop in a vehicle and drive around town smashing everything in sight in the name of avarice. It's a simple, but universal, joy. For those achievement hunters who like to find everything, expect to spend a while scouring the Lego worlds for secrets, as each stage comes packed with areas that are inaccessible upon a first playthrough, and only after you return with the proper characters can you plunder that sweet, sweet loot. Believe us, once you've acquired greats like Gandalf, Batman or Green Lantern, you'll be happy to pop back to those early levels and let the chaos flow freely. You can also pair up with a friend, and thanks to the smart split-screen system, move around as freely as you'd like.
Even the most sourpussed gamer will have a hard time finding fault with any of the audio visual elements at work here. The Lego backgrounds, figures, and effects all look colorful and alive, but still maintain that distinctly plastic-y Lego look, which makes things like massive tidal waves or raging infernos that much more amusing when they're comprised of little plastic pieces. The cast of the Lego movie returned to reprise their roles, so, unlike other, half-assed movie games, this actually feels like you're playing through an extension of the movie rather than some terrible knock-off. The music is chipper, but serviceable, with the exception being the Lego Movie theme "Everything is Awesome" by Teagan and Sara, a tune so infectiously upbeat you'll probably find it lodged in your brain years from now.
Despite the many bright points of The Lego Movie Game, it should be mentioned that experienced gamers may not find as much enjoyment in this as their nubile counterparts. The Lego Movie Game holds your hand through virtually every second, with huge on-screen messages telling you what you should be doing, or can't do yet. While we only experienced a single bug while playing, it was a fairly annoying one. During a falling sequence, Emmett froze in the air. We could maneuver him, but we couldn't make any progress, nor could we exit to the menu, which forced us to restart the game and play the entire level over again.
The Lego Movie Video Game should be looked to as a shining example of a movie game done right. It's fast, it's fun, and it feels like a well-polished, video game, version of the movie. Traveller's Tales mastered the format of these Lego games and can pretty much set things to cruise control from here. The Lego Movie Game may not be the most original or complex title out there, but it's an enthusiastic, uncynical bit of fun, filled with brightness, cheer and awesome.
This review is based on a purchased digital copy of The Lego Movie Video Game for the PC.