Lego my bricks!
There's something very special about Lego, even for me... it brings back childhood memories of strange and bizarre creations, stop-gap hacking methods for fixing various broken things and most of all tons of fun just making, rebuilding and creating ever complex things that the original set wasn't really designed for. In fact all you have to do these days is either watch James May build a house from the stuff, or look online and see there are tons of videos, pictures and so forth of favourite constructions, from the Serenity out of Firefly to the Ebon Hawk that was the ship used in Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic RPG.
Traveller's Tales has taken this whole thing one step further with their Lego based games, picking up franchises like Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and of course Star Wars with their most recent big movie tie-in being Lego: Pirates of the Caribbean, which we reviewed a while ago and found utterly brilliant and charming. The Lego games echo the sheer mad fun that I used to have with the toy; they echo the franchise extremely well and present a great opportunity for cooperation. They are also the perfect kid's game for anyone who worries about the suitability of certain video games for minors.
There was even a Lego Rock Band game, which brought some great songs and gameplay to the franchise. They also appeal to the big kid at heart, and it's a rare soul that doesn't at least smile when watching someone playing the games. I have played most of the Lego games that has appeared since the original Lego: Star Wars way back April 5th 2005. The best one (for me) is still Lego: Pirates of the Caribbean, which is extremely faithful to the franchise and manages to get Jack Sparrow in Lego form completely spot on, including his mannerisms and walk.
Traveller's Tales past Lego game history began with the release of Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, which was set in the prequels and appeared a month before the final prequel premiered. It was a solid entry to the franchise and set the path upon which Traveller's Tales have ultimately embarked and the direction their Lego games have gone in. It introduced a fun, but flawed cooperative mode for two players that often resulted in the death of either player due to tricky controls and camera issues.
In Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy TT kept the same formula with a bit of a change in terms of vehicle sections, and they had similar cooperative problems in terms of camera and controls. That was 2006.
In 2007 they released Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga and that combined both the previous titles into one, with some polish and a change here and there. Again whilst a solid entry into the field it was still essentially, the same game, with the same problems. Regardless of this, it was one of the games I really loved.
In 2008 it was the turn of Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, this was a fun romp, had new mechanics for combat like the whip trip and even Indy had a fear of snakes, which meant he would literally cower. You could also build and ride vehicles, even though the mechanics for riding them were still pretty clunky.
Still in 2008 and one of my favourite comic book anti-heroes was given the Lego treatment, in Lego Batman. Unfortunately whilst a great game, it still had many of the original problems I tolerated about the previous Lego titles and whilst it had a massive roster of cool character from Batman's universe, the fixed camera at times, constant enemy respawns and flawed cooperative mode issues reared their ugly heads.
2009 brought Lego Battles for the DS. Since I didn't dabble with handhelds at the time, I missed out on this one.
It also brought Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues and this began to shape the future of the Lego game series. TT wisely implemented a new feature that meant cooperative play now had split-screen. Rather than forcing a horizontal or vertical split the game split the screen based on player position and angle. This meant that gone were the days where the second player could drag the first off a ledge by accident or design, both players could now explore freely and it really changed things up for me.
Whilst the game wasn't as fun as the previous Indy game the new mechanics, level creator and improved systems meant that it got a lot more play in split-screen mode.
Still reeling from Lego Indy 2, the shocks were not over yet. Lego Rock Band was released and it got a ton of play here. I am massive fan of Rock Band and the Lego games so, this was like the ultimate combination, add to that Ghostbusters as part of the track list and the game's new mechanics for challenges... it was a sure-fire winner and still gets played even now that I have Rock Band 3.
Traveller's Tales grabbed a lucrative franchise in 2010 in the form of Harry Potter and the first Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 game was a big hit. It scored well in reviews and had a massive amount of secrets, spells, everything that you could ever want from a Harry Potter game. It was also a hit with non-Potter fans like me too.
2011 saw a huge leap forwards for the Lego games in the form of Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars based on the hugely successful animated TV series and using many of the voice actors from it too. The engine was given a revamp, the controls, the systems and all the mechanics were polished and in many cases completely rebuilt. The new systems meant that there were really fun vehicle sections, some interesting RTS-lite battles and a host of secrets, characters and gameplay improvements. Split-screen returned from Indy 2 and cooperative play had greatly improved. It was the best Lego game yet.
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game. This is the one Lego game that I actually spent enough time with to get 1000GS from, an event that's as rare as anything with me since I'm usually onto the next game to get a review sorted or play something else. This introduced a ton of new content and a lot of improvements, even more graphical finesse and a finer direction than the ones before. The character-wheel was the best thing to happen to the franchise and once again TT learned the split-screen trick was a winner. Lego PotC proved to be a huge hit and had all 4 films faithfully recreated in fun, puzzling and addictive Lego gameplay.
In 2012 there is another Lego game planned, Lego City Stories and Lego Batman 2: Super Heroes has been announced. The Lego game phenomenon looks to be with us for quite some time and I am pretty glad about that. I just wish that TT got hold of things like Lego Iron Man, because if they can make better Harry Potter games than the big budget titles that were released around the movies, they can do the same for Iron Man... which has had two terrible game outings so far.
That's about all there is to tell on the Lego game phenomenon, tune in next time for a Skyrim Adventure Journal which will be done in a similar style to the RAGE one.