Lego Star Wars back on the PS2 has a lot to answer for. Back in 2005, Traveller’s Tales’ eureka moment was a genuinely fresh spin on the licenced film adaptation. It certainly helped that it was a Star Wars game for sure, but it started the ball rolling on the juggernaut that is the Lego game series. It started out harmless enough with Indiana Jones et al but in the years since there have been countless installments covering multiple film franchises as well as a baffling Rock Band edition.
For the most part they’ve hewn roughly to the same template of playing through the main storyline, unlocking various character types to access previously inaccessible parts of levels to hoover up any remaining collectibles. We’ve played most of them due to their profligacy with regards trophies, we’re happy to report Lego The Incredibles generally doesn’t outstay its welcome, being one of the better Lego games we’ve played. It doesn’t feel overwrought like Lego Pirates or The Hobbit did for instance.
In some ways The Incredibles is no different to the already well-trodden pathway in the way it does business. You’ll play a mission that covers a major plot set piece, moving on through the film’s story. The game has dropped just in time to be as close as a tie-in to the forthcoming Incredibles 2 film as you’re going to get. It’s certainly an improvement on some of the half arsed Disney games that’ve blighted our consoles in the past, Disney’s Bolt or Meet The Robinsons being prime examples of the mediocre cash-ins we’ve played purely for trophies sake.
Given the fact The Incredibles is promoting the new film, we can understand why the first six story missions cover the plot beats of the second film. They’re immediately followed by six more levels going over the events of the original film. It would definitely make more sense if they were tackled in chronological order.
We can see why this didn’t happen though, especially since latter day Lego games have reached a level of bloat that has led to story missions become somewhat overlong. A single story mission can potentially take an hour to complete, more so in the case of occasionally cluttered level design that make your next move not all that obvious.
Another particularly next-gen problem is that the PS2 template hasn’t really evolved to work alongside the much higher quality environmental assets you cavort through. Typically this means you’ll often struggle to miss items you need to interact with to find secret items and areas. One waterfall obscuring a ‘freeze this area’ item being an egregious example, in this case it halts your progress in the story. The water effects are mighty impressive, but they’re a liability in this instance.
In a similar manner to Lego Avengers, time between missions is spent in a hub world where you have to hoover up yet more collectibles. It’s more Simpsons Hit & Run than GTA thankfully and all the better for it. Were it not for the stringent insistence you don’t stray too far from the mission area, you could easily complete quite a few tasks in between missions. As it is, you’re better off just making a bee-line for your next objective and leaving these extra-curricular activities for when you’re done with the main storyline.
Each level has three main criteria you have to fulfil: hitting a stud limit for one gold brick, collecting 10 capsules for another and an arbitrary task with associated trophy for carrying out a particular action in the same level. You’ll have to replay levels to unlock all the capsules, that’s a given. You’ll generally hit the stud limit fairly easily and you’ll get the trophy for the task too without much trouble if you play smart. In addition, each level has a shared task that you can only complete if you’ve collected special bricks by performing predetermined jobs first, culminating in what’s called a Family Build. In effect it’s a straightforward button mash to build a new item.
Upon completing a level you’ll unlock any new character variants you’ve played as, with a cute little animation tearing open a grab bag in the same fashion as the blind figure packs that kids pester their parents for. Thankfully not at £2.99 a shot in this case though.
The Incredibles, as you’d expect, is child friendly to a tee but also canny marketing for real life Lego bricks. Local split-screen multiplayer allows you to let a co-op partner join you. In our case we did the mission while our fellow player jumped off cliffs to his great amusement and general bewilderment. Perhaps a setting similar to Super Mario Odyssey‘s Assist Mode would be a help for the younger player to help them with some play mechanics as we had to help our companion out on several occasions when they were called upon to perform a somewhat more complicated task.
Set pieces from the films are well depicted, the water based chase sequence from the first film being a definite highlight. It says a lot for the plot of the sequel that a scene from the fourteen year old original film is among most memorable sequences in the game. That’s not to say the second film is as cynical a rehash as the Despicable Me films have become, but we digress.
All in all, Lego The Incredibles knows its target audience will generally be children and plays it safe with regards gameplay innovations and concepts. The two films are a good fit for the Lego game template, and this game is a safe bet for people wanting to spend more time in the Parr family’s world. For everyone else, it’s a good Lego game up there with Indiana Jones and Star Wars The Complete Saga in terms of the fun we had playing it.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to unlock everything in the game. Old habits die hard.
+ Well implemented set pieces
+ Hub world is entertaining and fun to run around in
+ Some imaginative trophies, more than just a collectathon
- Environmental effects can obscure your next move
- Maybe a little hard for the younger audience at times
- Only 12 story levels might lead some to think this is a sparse package (it's not)