They say when life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get, but in fact that’s a lie - you know exactly what you’re going to get: bite-sized chunks of tasty treat which should all be tasty but in fact some are nutty, some are a bit odd, and about half of them aren’t to your taste after.
excited. ‘This should be a lot of fun,’ I thought. ‘I know a little more about the DC universe this time around since LEGO Batman 2 and I enjoyed that, what could go wrong?’
As it turns out I did enjoy the game (as you may have read), but it had fallen victim to diminishing returns. Jumping back into that world didn’t have the same thrill and for every good idea injected into the game there were two bad, making it feel bloated and directionless by comparison, which is impressive when comparing to an open world game.
Now though, I’m certain. Recently we got our first look at LEGO Jurassic World, TT’s next release, and as much as it looks like it should be fun, the same worrying ethos is there - throw some stuff in, see what sticks.
I’m actually looking forward to the film, I’m not expecting a revelation but it should be fun - even though all they’ve really done is rehash the plot from the first film just with people in the park - but despite my heart’s instinct to get excited for the game, my head says otherwise.
We all know what it will look like now (i.e. no different from the other titles), we know what it will play like and so we know what it will feel like. Apart from ‘being a dino’ I can’t see where they are going to break their own well-used mold.
Then there’s LEGO Dimensions, which should really appeal to me as a fan of physical LEGO itself (I even used to work for Legoland in fact, I’m fully indoctrinated), and yet all it seems to offer is a LEGO twist on the Skylanders formula (which Disney has already stolen and arguably made more popular).
There’s elements which I like about these games, namely playing in split-screen as that is such a rarity these days, but where can they go now? And why should I care?
You could argue it’s a problem with a lot of games. Call of Duty is the easiest target, in this difficult position where even when they do innovate, they are said to be copying other games (see also Advanced Warfare and Titanfall) and equally the latest Assassin’s Creed reveal is being criticised for apparently moving away from the parkour element which has made all the other games so successful.
these games are the epitome of escapism and becoming your heroes, and that isn't something that should be lost
When you get something as popular as all of these things though, what choice do you have? In a nutshell you innovate, diversify or die. History is littered with properties which have failed to do this, and since innovation is the hardest nut to crack, it’s no surprise LEGO has gone for the latter, grabbing as many properties as possible to hook people in.
The fact that people enjoy the games, and I’m sure there will be plenty who enjoy this one, isn’t a bad thing by any means, but at the moment the studio is churning them out so rapidly (four or five a year) that Call of Duty-esque franchise fatigue can’t be far away for everyone, and that would be a shame.
What’s the answer? Diversify in a different way, into other genres. I’m not saying arbitrarily jump into first-person shooters or something which just wouldn’t fit, but a third-person MOBA like SMITE might offer some variety which fans of the LEGO titles haven’t already experienced.
Of course, effectively stealing from other genres and franchises is part of the problem, so what we really need to see is LEGO break out on its own, using the strengths of the games it has under its belt to effectively create a new sub-genre. I’m not sure I know what it is, something that draws from the love of creation which makes Minecraft so popular is a starting point, but it needs to happen soon.
These games (particularly Lego Marvel Super Heroes) are the epitome of escapism and becoming your heroes and that isn’t something that should be lost, but the last thing I want to be saying is that Batman has become boring, he’s such an interesting character with so many layers and we haven’t seen that in LEGO’s world just yet.
So that’s my take, but what do you think? Is there hope left for LEGO? Are there yet more franchises you’d like to see it smash up with? Let us know on the forum.