Game: The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game
Consoles: Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developers: TT Games, Traveller’s Tales
The blockbuster films that brought the world of LEGO to life have been better than they had any right to be. That opinion of mine also rings true for the onslaught of LEGO games based on the movies and plenty other popular properties. LEGO Ninjago’s physical line of collectable ninjas and outlandish vehicles has gained enough traction and gotten itself a big screen adaptation. To commemorate the launch of that film, TT Games and Traveller’s Tales have assembled a game devoted to its fun mix of hilarious quips and ancient ninjitsu arts.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game sticks to bits and pieces of the formula established by the LEGO games that came before it, but does manage to adopt a few features of its own. While it still manages to deliver a solid dose of fun and laughs, technical bugs and a lackluster vocal delivery make this one of the lesser quality LEGO games released in recent memory.
Breaking everything in sight, collecting the studs that erupt from them and running around completing objectives with a buddy are still central elements of the LEGO titles. And that’s the same type of fun that pushes the game along in this entry. But what sets it apart from the titles of a similar nature is its progression structure. Each story mission takes place within a certain region. Upon completion, you can freely explore that entire mission’s themed locale and search for hidden goodies.
This change opens up a lot more fun activities to find, such as side missions, races, competitive battle arena challenges, character creation tools etc. Replaying levels is something that’s completely done away with here since you’re no longer locked in to a set mission path once that mission is finished. The developers have to be commended for offering a nice change of pace from the more linear makeup of its past work.
Collecting a ton of studs on a stage in order to hit the 100-percent meter for that goal has thankfully been eliminated. Now your stud accumulation goes toward opening up more parts of a location. The open world mechanics become that much more prevalent and a thankful breath of fresh air as you purchase new pathways. When the time finally comes for you and your chosen ally to dish out some ninjutsu beatdowns, the other half of this game’s fun factor springs up. It’s quite evident that the world of Ninjago needed to be properly represented in game form by featuring a stronger focus on combat. Dealing blows to foes feels and looks a lot better; it’s even possible to pull off double digit combos and utilize all the cool abilities in your arsenal. Hopefully the LEGO games that arrive after this one take notes from the incredibly fun battle mechanics.
This title could have resulted in adding another surprisingly great game to the “games based on films” list. But sadly, it just ends up being decent due to the fact that some annoying issues lessen its impact. There’s a few nagging technical bugs present here, such as disappointingly long load times. Leaving to go to another location means you’ll be forced to wait up to a minute or more, which is an issue that wasn’t anything to worry about in past LEGO releases.
And what makes these longer than usual load times even more troubling are the instances where it leads to game crashes. These issues should have been ironed out, obviously. The other problem that persists is the shockingly bad voice acting. Now I realize that the voice actors from the film would probably be a bit more expensive to feature in the game. But they should have at least been represented a lot better. The voice actors who fill their roles either sound too monotone or more like a horrible impression of whoever they’re trying to mimic.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game should have turned out better than it ended up being. The fresher take on the LEGO games’ formula of world exploring and focus on more fulfilling combat works out pretty well. These new features are so good that I hope they return for future LEGO titles. But what keeps it from being great are the excruciatingly long load times, moments of random crashes and some truly lackluster vocal delivery that lessens the impact of in-game jokes and scenes from the movie. The younger crowd will get a kick out of this release. The older fans who’ve played every LEGO game released thus far might want to skip out on this one. There’s still some solid fun to be had here, though.
- The combat is way stronger in this installment of the LEGO games
- The expansive environments and story stages offer up tons of variety in terms of gameplay
- The load times are painfully long
- The voice actors who substitute for the ones from the film aren’t very good
- The game is prone to crashing frequently