I've managed to avoid the world of LEGO games up until now.
Not that I've been trying to. I've always loved the idea of them. A gentle parody of a beloved series is right up my street. It's just none of them have been based on a franchise that could justify me sitting down and spending time with a kids game.
Things have moved on though and with a four-year-old son we'll try anything out to keep him quiet for five minutes. Although he's not the biggest Incredibles
fan, he's certainly started to show an interest in the iconic plastic bricks so I was eager to see if LEGO The Incredibles
could not only spark his imagination but have enough about it to get me to join in.
LEGO The Incredibles
is split up into two halves. The first is your usual romp through the storylines from both The Incredibles
and The Incredibles 2
films and the second being an open world sandbox that removes all restrictions and lets you mess about as much as you want.
The story mode is hit and miss throughout. Strangely making you play through the sequel before going back to the 2004 classic, the feeling you get is that the devs had very little time to make a game out of the new film.
The difference between the two campaigns is pretty striking. The sequel is full of short missions without much story, bosses that you face during the open world parts of the game and very little in terms of gags and voice acting. It's also really short. Before you know it you'll be done and wont have any real grasp of what's happened.
Things pick up considerably when you move back to the original film's missions. Suddenly the levels feel bigger, the set pieces are more stunning and the flashes of LEGO humour overlaying the great film freshen up the well known old gags.
But neither film's campaigns can avoid problems here and there, the most noticeable being the moments where direction is lacking. There are times where you'll be wandering around a level trying to work out what you need to do to progress. Sometimes the game will give you a hint with an icon on screen and others it seems to just abandon you and let you figure out what to do.
It's frustrating to play as an adult at times and made it impossible for my son to play. Granted he's four and this won't apply to everyone, but there are so many ways in which this game tries to be accessible for all ages.
No deaths, no restarting from checkpoints, easy combat and loads of things to collect make it feel perfect for even the youngest of gamers, but the barriers along the way completely undermine this stuff. In the end it just meant that this half of the game was for me to play. The boy would watch and enjoy it but wasn't able to take part himself.
To counter that though, the open world element of LEGO The Incredibles
was perfect for him. Set in a nice sized city, filled with things to do this is where the game lets its hair down and it takes full advantage of both licence and themes.
With an insane amount of characters to unlock we started by just exploring and trying out different characters to see how their special powers would affect the world around us.
Soon enough we unlocked a flying character and my game criticism alarms started ringing. We'd already done lots of missions that required us to climb up buildings by either fighting out way up floors or jumping from platforms. Surely a flying character would either be extremely limited or game breaking.
In truth my prejudgment of game breaking turned out to be harsh. With no limits to how much you can take to the air you can indeed skip massive tasks and fly directly to the goal. Be that at the top of a building or in the middle of a maze. But, why not?
This is a kids' game after all and if there's one thing I've noticed as my son takes his first steps into the world of gaming, it's that if he wants to do something and isn't able to he instantly looses interest.
It's why games like Minecraft
as so popular with his age group. Games like this encourage imagination, testing boundaries and satisfy when plans come together. Although LEGO The Incredibles
doesn't have the scope in terms of freedom that Minecraft
does, it takes steps to try to make sure that if kids want to do something they can.
Another neat touch is the option to create your own LEGO Super Hero. Visit Edna's house and you can piece together various costumes and body parts, add a special power and head out into the world to fight crime. There are more than enough slots too, allowing my son to create pretty much everyone he knows.
There are 12 slots.
As for the open world itself, there's plenty to get on with. Some tasks are repeated a little too often but for the most part everything is fun to do and with the world full of collectibles you're ever far away from picking something up or satisfyingly checking something off a list.
The shining gem, though, sits at the end of a crime-ridden area. The city is sectioned off into different areas and one by one they get taken over by gangs of bad guys. Some areas end with boss battles, others don't but the good stuff arrives when you're finished and a Pixar Family Build opens up.
If you've collected enough multicoloured bricks you can spend them on these incredible builds. As the name suggests, these aren't limited to The Incredibles
like the other various builds around the world. Instead they're linked to a number of other Pixar films.
I don't want to spoil them for you but each one was a delight, came with their own character and had hidden secrets that unlocks game modifications from multiplying pickup items to playing funky music throughout, forcing your character into a never ending dance.
Building these soon become the highlight for us. We were excited to see what film would crop up next and were never disappointed. Most mornings we'd wake up, do a few of these missions and unlock another item and in truth I was gutted once we'd done them all.
As the days went by it was clear that both my son and I were enjoying this game more than we thought we would. It's been our most played game outside of the Nintendo universe and although it falls a little short of the exceptionally high bar that those games offer, it had more than enough about it to keep going back to.
Slightly average story missions aside, LEGO The Incredibles
is a lot of fun and has more than enough about it to allow parents to get involved. Although I have no other LEGO game to compare it to, if future LEGO games are as
good as this, I'll be playing a lot more in future.
+ Excellent open world area
+ Allows the freedom that kids want
+ The Pixar Family Builds
- Average story missions
- Some lack of direction
SPOnG Score: 8/10