LEGO The Incredibles put me in a bit of a weird place. I’m lucky enough to have the game ahead of its official release in the UK, but, thanks to the World Cup, the new movie that it’s PARTLY based upon has been delayed and is releasing next month. Lucky Americans have had the chance to watch it already – maybe England should take a page out of their book and just not qualify for the World Cup next time around…
Still, it means I’ve had to play through the game without seeing the movie first, which is something I typically avoid doing not only for the sake of spoilers but so I know what exactly is going on as far as the narrative is concerned. I made the exception this time around though and got to experience the bulk of the new tale in a blocky-platform-puzzling manner instead, which is typically a pleasant and enjoyable experience.
Unfortunately, LEGO The Incredibles is also the first time that the aforementioned ‘blocky-platform-puzzling’ has started to feel a little bit dated and formulaic. Sure, the classic LEGO charm is still there, but it comes with a sense of predictability that younger gamers might not notice but is plain and clear to us seasoned gaming veterans.
LEGO The Incredibles tells the story of both movies, with it (oddly) starting off by telling the tale of The Incredibles 2 and then moving on to its predecessor. I’m assuming this is to ensure gamers get to experience the ‘newer’ content first, but it actually felt a little off in the game – especially since some important character revelations that are initially revealed in the first movie actually seem to play a big role in the follow up.
As mentioned, I haven’t seen the new movie yet so I can’t/won’t really spoil anything here, but after watching the first movie a ton of times (seriously, it’s an absurd number) it’s clear that TT Games have taken some liberties as far as presenting how the tale goes. It’s not a bad thing though and the alternate representation of how some scenes play out not only keeps things fresh story-wise but also ensures that they’re more interesting to play through from a gameplay perspective too. Overall, I enjoyed how the story was presented, with the quality Pixar storytelling working well with the trademark LEGO humour.
As far as gameplay is concerned, the game tasks you with working through a series of levels based upon scenes from both movies. Here, you’ll use Mr Incredible’s brute strength, Elastigirl’s stretching abilities, Violet’s energy powers, and Dash’s lightning-fast speed to smash up enemies, solve puzzles, and make your way through a myriad of platforming sections. As per usual with the LEGO games, one of The Incredibles’ core powers are always essential to progress, though that doesn’t mean you won’t get to mix it up with the support cast during the main story missions – Frozone’s ice abilities will be essential to take down some foes for example, whilst the villainous Syndrome’s previous heroic alter-ego ‘Incrediboy’ will prove useful on one particular level too.
You won’t just be battling your way across a myriad of levels based upon the movie, but also get to explore an open world that’s full of people to save, collectibles to find, and secrets to discover. The city itself isn’t exactly jam-packed full of personality and it feels a little weak when compared to other LEGO games’ open worlds, but there’s still plenty to do and plenty of recognisable sights to see that fans of the movies will definitely appreciate.
There’s no denying that LEGO The Incredibles is a lot of fun to play, but it never felt particularly unique. The LEGO games have been guilty of feeling a little formulaic and not changing things up enough for a long time, but the licences used and sheer depth of recognisable characters they brought has often been enough to warrant a free pass – with LEGO The Incredibles though, it’s a bit more obvious. Again, it doesn’t stop the game being fun to play and I’m sure it won’t be a problem for youngsters who are just glad to play as the family of heroes from Pixar’s brilliant films, but seasoned veterans of the LEGO franchise might be left wondering what TT Games can do to make the games feel a little more unique again.
Of course, you can play through the entirety of LEGO The Incredibles in local co-op, which always makes the game a little bit more fun. I still wish that online functions were included, but the family nature of the LEGO games (especially with the appeal of The Incredibles to youngsters) sees the local co-op make a lot of sense. It’s a great game to play with kids with the gameplay proving simple enough to follow, whilst the fact that you can always swap characters with ease ensures you can get them out of a snag with minimal fuss too.
I was a little worried that The Incredibles movies didn’t have enough characters for the game to carry the same depth to its roster like other LEGO games have, but thankfully TT Games have gone all out in digging up some of the minor heroes that are often just briefly mentioned in the movies. Sure, they might not necessarily be recognisable faces (unless some of them play a big role in The Incredibles 2 and I just don’t know it yet), but their presence is still a welcome one. Of course, villains are present too, so you can hit freeplay with the likes of Syndrome, Underminer or even (one of my personal favourites) Bomb Voyage. You don’t always have to be the good guys, you know.
Outside of the heroes and villains, my favourite characters would have to be the Disney-Pixar cast that make a guest appearance. You’ll be able to play as the likes of Toy Story’s Woody, Monsters Inc’s Sully, Cars’ Lightning McQueen and even the Pixar Lamp once you’ve unlocked them. Sure, they might not necessarily fit into the world perfectly, but who hasn’t dreamed of teaming up Pixar heroes in puzzle-platforming action?! It would actually be a REALLY good idea for TT Games’ next LEGO project…
If the cast of pre-existing characters aren’t enough for you, you can actually make your own heroes too. It’s neat being able to put together every aspect of their design (including their powers), but at the same time I had a much better time playing as the likes of WALL-E and Flik than some little nameless hero I put together. There’s no doubting that some gamers (especially kids) will love it though, so it’s presence is a welcome one.
One particularly underwhelming aspect of LEGO The Incredibles came with the visuals, with some of the game’s landscapes feeling a little barren and plain. When I was first introduced to the game’s open world I couldn’t help but to feel disappointed that it looked so basic, with the world itself lacking in the personality that’s typically present in a LEGO game. Worst of all, it suffered badly with pop-in, with objects in the environment seemingly coming from nowhere when traversing across the map in a vehicle – this is something I can typically let slide, but given that the visuals weren’t mind blowing to begin with and the fact that I was playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro, it’s difficult not to find it frustrating. There’s just an air of blandness to the game’s world and levels, which is especially apparent after playing the brilliant LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 not that long ago and seeing how fantastic the world design and visuals were there.
LEGO The Incredibles isn’t a bad game by any means and there’s certainly fun to be had playing through TT Games’ representation of the Pixar heroes’ adventures, but when compared to the most recent releases in the LEGO franchise I can’t help but to find it a little underwhelming. I just felt like there wasn’t anything here that I hadn’t seen done before, which is something that the LEGO games have been guilty of over the last few years but somehow feels more predominant here than ever before.
Like I said though, there’s enjoyment to be had with LEGO The Incredibles and I’m sure youngsters in particular will enjoy zipping around levels as Dash, smashing through walls with Mr Incredible, stretching through stages as Elastigirl, and smashing things apart with Violet’s energy blasts. It’s just a shame that the game doesn’t quite live up to its ‘incredible’ name, and instead just feels a little bit ordinary.
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 13/07/2018 (UK), Out Now (US)
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC