As a huge fan of the LEGO franchise as a whole, be it the building blocks or video games, you can imagine my excitement for a video game tie in to one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. With the promise of extending my experience beyond the big screen, I was excited to drive back home from the movie theater and continue my adventures as Emmet, the happy-go-lucky average minifigure turned Special. Except instead of extending my experience, I had to simply retread it.
See, unlike movie licensed games that no longer follow the strict formula of "follow the script" and instead allow fans to see events prior to the movies or maybe even after, The LEGO Movie Videogame instead relies on a scene-by-scene retelling of the movie. Scenes which last only a few seconds in the film are made into full fledged levels. They're still fun mind you, but the main problem is that I wanted to experience something new. Plus, playing the game before seeing the movie pretty much spoils the entire story for you. This is doubly true considering the game uses scenes taken directly from the movie.
However, being a LEGO game, you can still expect a lot of fun shenanigans, even though we've seen them done many times before. You'll still be solving various environmental puzzles with different characters and their specialties. For instance, Emmet can drill holes into specific bricks, Wyldstyle can jump high and climb on walls, Vitruvius can use his blind courage (you know, because he's blind) to cross over dangerous terrain, Unikitty can break Rainbow LEGO objects, etc. You'll need to recruit a slew of characters and revisit previously completed levels to unlock everything in the game, but that's standard LEGO fare by now.
The LEGO Movie Videogame introduces the Master Builder aspect, and also its counterpart, Emmet's unwillingness to build anything unless it comes with instructions. Master Builders, or essentially, every character that's not Emmet, can at certain spots highlight three separate structures which can come apart and be rebuilt into something completely useful. It's a visual marvel to see all these random pieces come apart and then put themselves back together. On the other hand, Emmet can't build any objects at all unless he picks up their instruction and then uses it on a special base. This turns into a little minigame where you get to watch whatever structure you're meant to build at the time get constructed right before your eyes, piece by piece. The only input you'll have is to find a missing piece in order to finish the build. It's a bit tedious, but still cool to look at.
The game also manages to be one of the most visually diverse when it comes to its environments. You'll get to explore LEGO City, Wild West, Cloud Cuckoo Land and even Lord Business' Lair. Of course, these four locations will serve as your main hubs, are fully explorable, and act as a portal to the main story missions.
When compared to the most recent LEGO release, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Movie Videogame pales in terms of content. Since it follows the movie, you already know when and how it's going to end, and exploring the four main hubs isn't as interesting as it sounds, since they're all very small. The character variety is definitely appreciated, and you'll unlock some truly iconic minifigs on your adventure, from superheroes like Superman and Green Lantern to famous characters from history like Shakespeare and Cleopatra. It's all very silly, but the diversity of characters manages to one up any other LEGO game thanks to the fact that it doesn't stick to a single license.
If there was one thing I wished the game emulated more closely, it's the charming yet fake stop-motion animation the movie went for. I admittedly hated it when I first saw the trailer for the movie, but it grew on me over time. The game tries to emulate it slightly, which can be seen with Emmet's goofy run, but it's still a smooth and slick presentation, much akin to previous LEGO games.
The LEGO Movie Videogame isn't bad by any means. Chances are, if you love the movie, you won't mind experiencing it all over again. It's just a little ironic that for a movie that touts the importance of imagination, and not just sticking to the script, that the LEGO Movie Videogame does the exact opposite.