Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 06/10/2017 (Playstation 4, Xbox One) 13/10/2017 (PC) 20/10/2017 (Nintendo Switch)
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch PC
There are an abundance of LEGO video games available these days that are spread across a myriad of wonderful franchises. If you’re not scaling the heights of Gotham City as Batman, you’re swinging through New York as Spiderman, or maybe even taking the battle to space in the Millenium Falcon – the possibilities are almost endless.
However, there are also a few LEGO video games that actually take advantage of an existing LEGO toy series as opposed to a licenced franchise. Whilst we were treated to the enjoyable LEGO City Undercover earlier this year, now gamers can play through The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game – a game that’s (you guessed it) based upon the recently released movie.
Despite coming from the same team at TT Games though, The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game actually offers something a little different to what we’ve been used to in the LEGO video game series so far, with an extended focus on providing action-packed combat. It makes for a really fun experience too, but one that has a few little niggles that hold it back.
I haven’t actually seen the new movie, but it’s obvious from the get-go that The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is simply re-telling its story. This means that anyone who has enjoyed the movie will get to re-enact some of their favourite scenes, with the cut scenes in-between them actually being taken directly from it. If I’m being honest, the cutscenes are actually a lot of fun and have actually convinced me to check the movie out…
In a nutshell, the game tells the story of six ninjas who find themselves up against the villainous Lord Garmadon, who is constantly trying to conquer the city of Ninjago. How do they decide to take him down? By using the Ultimate Weapon of course. Disaster strikes when the Ultimate Weapon isn’t good enough though, so they have to head out on an adventure to discover the only weapon that is more powerful than the Ultimate Weapon: ‘The Ultimate Ultimate Weapon’! So yeah, that’s about the level of humour you can expect from the game, but as is always the case in a LEGO video game, it’s oddly charming and will do enough to pull a few smiles from even the grumpiest of gamer’s faces.
So a lot of The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game feels the same as any other LEGO video game; you’ll still be making your way through levels, smashing up the environment, building your own structures, discovering countless secrets, and collecting studs. There’ll also be situations where you’ll need to use a specific character’s special abilities if you want to progress, which is something gamers have been used to throughout the entirety of the LEGO video game franchise now.
However, The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game also spices things up with some all-new features. The combat for example has been refined to be much more action packed, with the button-mashing antics of previous games no longer the most viable way to take out enemies. Fitting in with the Ninja vibe of the game, you’re now able to utilise a varied move set that’ll see you unleashing different combos both on the ground and aerially. You’ll even be using defensive manoeuvres to avoid attacks, whilst enemies aren’t afraid to start blocking your attacks and demand a different approach at times too – there really is a fair bit of depth to it all. Best of all though is just how accessible it all is, with the game simply demanding a few basic controller inputs to pull off all of these slick moves. Previous games have featured the most simple of combat mechanics, but The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game’s combat’s depth and diversity makes for a much more satisfying experience.
You’re also able to upgrade your characters by using tokens that unlock different abilities on the game’s skill tree (also known as the ‘Wall of Ninjanuity’). With the newly refined combat system in place, being able to upgrade your characters actually plays a big role in the experience – don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to be able to customise every aspect of each character’s skillset, but you are able to make a few adjustments to have their strengths match up with your own. It’s a nice touch and with a bit more development could prove to be a pivotal feature in future LEGO video games.
Another neat feature in The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is the on-rail vehicle sections that see you parading through different environments and wreaking destruction upon your foes (and pretty much everything else) in the Ninja’s giant mechs. Within the opening alone you’ll find yourself smashing through the city of Ninjago on the green dragon mech, and it actually makes for an incredibly entertaining introduction to the game that shows off some of the more action-packed scenes on a more epic scale. Don’t get me wrong, they could be incredibly busy at times and difficult to keep track of, but I always had a lot of fun playing through them.
As expected from a LEGO video game, you can play through the entirety of The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game’s story mode with a friend. Again, it’s limited to just split-screen play, so you’ll have to have them by your side if you’re going to play through in co-op though. It’s a little odd that TT Games still haven’t implemented online functions into their games, but at the same time it’s something gamers have got used to by now.
One nice new addition to the multiplayer options is the arena mode that allows up to four players to take each other on in competitive action. It’s hardly the most diverse multiplayer experience you’re going to take part in, but thanks to the game’s decent combat mechanics it made for quite a few enjoyable showdowns. The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is clearly aimed at a younger audience and I think that the new multiplayer modes would certainly appeal to them.
Unfortunately, I came across an unusual amount of technical issues during my time with the game. One of the most obvious is the long load times between levels, but I also found that my Playstation 4 would completely crash on a few occasions too. It wasn’t incredibly common, but I’ve never played a game that crashed out on me completely more than two times until I played The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game. Add to that a few graphical bugs here and there and it’s clear to see that the game could’ve done with a bit more time in development before releasing. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a couple of patches though, so here’s hoping that these issues are rectified sooner rather than later.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game offers more of the same that we’ve come to expect from the LEGO video games, but also manages to enhance the experience thanks to its impressively diverse combat system. Typically, players are used to simply mashing buttons, but this time around you’ve got to carefully co-ordinate attacks and pull off slick combos. It makes for a more action-orientated experience, which in turn is a lot more fun (and fitting) when you’re making your way through levels as Ninjas. It certainly takes the LEGO video game series in a new direction, but it’s something I’d like to see more of in the future.
Unfortunately, the game was held back by the long load times, the crashes, and the graphical glitches. I’ve never found previous LEGO video games’ technical performances to be too problematic, but the issues that plague The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game were definitely noticeable.
Still, whilst the issues stop The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game from being a fantastic game, they don’t stop it from being a very enjoyable one. If you’re already a fan of the LEGO video games then it’s definitely worth checking out, though I think gamers who enjoy their action titles might find it a charming experience too.