Is the Lego Movie Videogame for you? It probably is if you can bring yourself to enjoy the following politically-controversial, looping video:
How about this one?
Really, what else needs to be said when assessing a video game other than the line: "You can play as Shakespeare and Batman."?
That says it all. Or at least says most of it.
The Lego Movie Videogame is the 15th or so major game in a Lego franchise that has gradually improved over the years to become one of the most entertaining and graphically-appealing low-stress action-adventure series going.
Most of the franchise's standards are back in this one. You can play co-op or solo across a bunch of levels (15) that tell a story based on a movie (The Lego Movie), all of it connected by a hub (well, this time by several hubs). Each level is designed to be replayed with an expanding cast of unlockable characters. There are Lego studs to collect, gold bricks to find (75) and red bricks, too (20).
The source material is wonderful: The Lego Movie is visually spectacular, as you'll see in many of the movie clips threaded throughout the game. That source material and this gaming series do meet at an odd intersection of subversion and paradox. This might throw you. The movie and the game feature a band of heroes (blind wizard, construction worker, rebel fighter, unicorn-cat hybrid, pirate and Batman) who go up against a guy named Lord/President Business. The villain, Mr. Business, doesn't want Lego sets to intermingle, hates imagination and creativity and is, more or less, a pro-capitalist villain...which makes it a tad weird that this game's new gameplay wrinkles involve construction worker Emmett needing to follow pages of Lego directions to build special things. It's just as weird that the Lego games have never given the players the creative freedom of, say, Minecraft.
I can't say I minded that much. The game is delightful. Players may not be able to build creatively, but the movie and game's creators sure did. The game worlds are impressive, every bit of them seemingly made up of Lego bricks with little or no backgrounds made of anything that looks non-Lego. Players get to go from modern city to wild west to some crazy cloud-and-rainbows place that is a mix between Lego heaven and a Lego rave. A long underwater level in a sinking submarine is a standout.
The one thing players can create in the series, as the guy (me) who wrote about this series in The New York Times recently pointed out, is chaos. This is an essential part of having fun with Lego bricks and it's what the Lego games showcase best: smashing Lego sets apart, punching your fellow Lego characters so they separate into their component legs, torsos and heads.
Note: in this game, you can play as Gandalf and Superman.
You can also play as this guy.
I mean... why not?
For context, your reviewer liked Lego Star Wars, Lego Star Wars II, Lego Batman and the first Lego Harry Potter, didn't like Lego Indiana Jones or Lego Batman 2, loved Lego Star Wars III and Lego City Undercover, feels guilty about barely playing the promising Lego Lord of the Rings, doesn't understand why Lego Rock Band exists, and is still in the early stages of the impressive Lego Marvel Superheroes.
Thus: The Lego Movie Videogame is my second favorite Lego game ever behind Star Wars III, with Marvel a contender to shake up these rankings.