Hello Completionists. Welcome to my first non-review of 2018. I felt that reviewing two LEGO games was pointless, as Ellen has previously written a piece that covers most LEGO games (back when we were just starting at UC).
What I would like to do is compare two LEGO games I have 100% completed recently, and bring to light the major differences in quality one sees in LEGO games across different systems. I would like to point out that although I am most definitely classed as an adult, I enjoy a good LEGO game and am usually quite content to try and collect everything, especially if there are achievements or trophies involved.
The two games I would like to discuss here are LEGO Jurassic World (PS4), and LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (PS Vita). One was much better than the other, and not only because of the power of the console – the Vita can do much better than Lego Batman.
Let’s start with Jurassic World. This lego universe sees the islands and plots of all the Jurassic Park films and the most recent Jurassic World films turned into Lego. This includes the dinosaurs, Mr. DNA and even Jeff Goldblum. Given that the book Jurassic Park is my absolute favourite book, and the demo I played at Comic Con a couple of years ago was pretty good, I was expecting great things. Yes, even out of Lego Jurassic Park 3.
Lego Batman 2, on the other hand, appeared to have no basis for existence (it isn’t based on any plot from any Batman media), and doesn’t really have much in the way of plot (at least in the Vita version). According to Wikipedia, the actual plot is as follows:
“In Gotham City, an award show is being held where Gotham’s finest is attending. The “Man of the Year” award is being presented to Bruce Wayne with Lex Luthor being runner-up. All is well until a group of Batman’s villains (consisting of the Penguin, the Riddler, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, and Joker) show up as Joker steals the award thinking that he is more deserving of the title.” (from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_Batman_2:_DC_Super_Heroes)
Unfortunately, this is really hard to figure out whilst playing the game. Lego Batman 2 for the PS Vita is a port of the 3DS version, instead of a Vita compatible version of the console versions. This means everything is simplified – the story, the gameplay, and of particular note here, the cinematic sequences. These sequences between levels are supposed to narrate the game, giving the player reasons as to why we are hunting down Joker or Two Face. Instead, we are presented with a jerky, pixellated mess. If you can understand what’s happening, you are a better person than me.
Overall, Lego Batman 2 feels like a fighting game more than a Lego game. Without the story it is a series of boss fights spread out with occasional puzzles. Jurassic World, on the other hand, feels more adventure-y, with more puzzles and clear end goals (mostly survive the island).
The gameplay in both Jurassic World and Batman 2 are similar, much the same as the more recent Lego games. If you read Ellen’s post on Lego Lord of the Rings, it’s the same stuff here. Different characters can do different things which allow you to forward the plot or reveal secrets and collectibles. Lego Jurassic World widens the puzzle variations by including dinosaurs in the character roster, ultimately allowing you to play as a Velociraptor, a Dilophosaurus or the T-Rex. Lego Batman 2 is more limited, allowing you to change between various superheroes, including the Justice League.
Speaking of the Justice League, Batman 2 allows you fight in the Justice League arena, which unlocks after completing Story Mode. Here you get to fight wave after wave of enemies, with each round having you play as a different hero. The first time you play in the arena, it’s a novel idea, but the only reason to do so is to play through each level once to unlock the special character at the end. If you are achievement hunting, there’s an achievement for getting a gold trophy in each level, but if you are patient, this isn’t the most difficult thing to do.
I wouldn’t say that either of these two games pushes the Lego boat out. There’s nothing super innovative here, although I got immense joy out of Jurassic World – largely because I love the franchise and I’m a dino-nerd. In fairness though, I don’t think anyone goes into a Lego game expecting innovation. If you’ve played one, you’ve pretty much played them all.
What ultimately baffles, and disappoints me, is how much of a raw deal Lego fans get if they play on a handheld. Games ported to handhelds tend to suck anyway (see my thoughts on Toy Story 3 from way back when), but with the power of the Vita ion particular, it’s no surprise the Vita isn’t as well loved as the DS if this is the quality of its games.
I think it speaks of a wider issue in gaming when something as fairly simple as a Lego game (and when you boil it down, they are fairly simple games) can be so different depending on the platform you pick.
I know that these games are largely aimed at kids, but with more and more children ‘plugged in’ from birth, this is probably the one audience who will be most aware of issues such as this.
I 100%’ed Lego Jurassic World because I had fun playing it. I enjoyed working my way through each of the parks and opening secrets, playing as dinosaurs and driving around in a Gyrosphere. I wanted to finish it, and I want to share my joy with others.
With Lego Batman 2, however, I was completing it because I wanted to get rid of it, and not have that one last achievement (Justice League) hanging over me. That says more about me than the quality of the game.
I am slightly sad to see the back of Jurassic World, but boy was deleting the Batman 2 data a thing of joy.
What are your experiences of Lego games? Or of ported games generally? I am keen to have more of these opinion posts on UC in the future, but what do you lot want to read? If you hate me ranting, let me know. If you actually want to hear what I think, let me know as well.