You’d be hard-pressed to find a group of games more charming than TT Games’ LEGO series. The developer has brilliantly tackled pop-culture delights like Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Batman, and so many more. Back in 2015, TTG took the winning LEGO formula and successfully translated it to the toys-to-life genre with LEGO Dimensions (which we loved). Now with LEGO Worlds, the company has finally made the obvious step into the world of sandbox building games. Like Minecraft, TT’s latest gives players the power to craft and conceive their own world, brick by brick, but with a LEGO twist. While the awful camera, tedious tasks, and wonky controls weigh it down, Worlds‘ cheeky sense of humor, vibrant biomes, creative world-building tools, and sheer number of things that can be found around every corner, managed to keep it a float, and made it a title intriguing enough to dive into.
Unlike the rest of the LEGO titles, LEGO Worlds doesn’t feature an elaborate story. Instead, the game presents a simple overarching plot: after crash-landing on a mysterious world, the player sets out to become a Master Builder… and that’s about all there is to it. Achieving that goal is relatively simple. All you need to do to reach the top tier “Master Builder” level is collect enough golden bricks via completing quests for NPCs and exploring the world. Sure, this shifts the main focus to actually trekking through the series of explorable worlds, which technically isn’t a bad thing, but the fact that the tasks themselves are incredibly simple makes for a boring experience after a while.
On top of that, I often found myself confused; not because of the missions themselves, but because the frustrating camera angles made things incredibly difficult to see. Because characters and creatures express their desires in text bubbles above their heads (without accompanying voice-over), having your vision obstructed is problematic. On several occasions, I encountered characters in tight spaces (like caves or buildings), and wasn’t able to figure out what it was they wanted unless I physically removed the terrain or walls that were hiding the text. The problem pops up throughout rest of the game, and is especially apparent when using the game’s building, texture painting, and object-copying tools, making it hard to see what I was trying to create most of the time because the camera was stuck inside or behind a wall, floor, or ceiling of bricks.
That said, the building tools that you unlock over the course of the game are delightfully diverse. There’s a straightforward build mode that allows the player to use the game’s expansive catalogue of LEGO pieces (which have to be individually unlocked), as well as a free build mode. Think of these two as a virtual set of LEGO. Then there’s the landscape mode that allows you to manipulate the terrain via removing, adding, or flattening bricks. Is there a mountain or a volcano in your way? Whip out your handy-dandy landscape tool to remove the obstacle. Then there’s a paint tool that can be used to…well…paint whatever you just built, as well as the surrounding terrain. If you aren’t skilled in the building department, there’s also the copy tool that allows you to scan existing architecture which permanently adds it to your inventory so you can paste it anywhere in the world, as many times as you want. While building on it’s own is pretty easy, there are options for those who’d rather take existing masterpieces created by the developer and either place them as is, or modify to their heart’s content.
The most unique item, however, is the discovery tool that is essentially like the copy tool, but for items, creatures, and NPCs. Once one of these has been discovered, you’ll be able to pop it into any environment an infinite number of times with the touch of a button. The true joy (at least for me) came from finding fun items like donuts, guitars, and bazookas, as well as myriad modes of transportation like dragons, sharks, broomsticks, and the trusty earth driller. Heck, you can even ride around on a Husky dog while on the hunt for a yeti—the possibilities are endless (and hilarious). And there’s something to be said about being able to do that as a wobbly legged gingerbread man, a pirate princess, or caveman donning a silly costume. It’s side-splitting fun to be sure.
But back to the bazookas for a moment, there is combat in the game, and it does play a small role in a few of the missions. While there are a boatload of fun weapons (remember the megazooka I raved about in my preview?), trying to equip them to fend off the hoard of skeletons, or ninja assassins that just ambushed you is cumbersome. To bring out a particular weapon, you must navigate through two different menus, all while being attacked by enemies. It would have been nice if there was a shortcut button that allowed you to immediately wield a weapon in these dire situations.
Because of the wonderful number of things that can be unearthed in the game, it feels like there’s something new around every corner. That sense of surprise fueled my desire to dig even deeper into Worlds than I was expecting. After spending a ton of hours playing through the game, there are still biomes, monsters, and items I’ve yet to see, and that’s pretty exciting. But of course, with the amount of time I’ve spent playing the game, a number of bugs, and shoddy performance problems have unfortunately become even more apparent.
As if the crappy camera wasn’t enough, the severe frame rate drops made my head spin. Granted, the performance wasn’t always terrible; it usually worsened when the player entered a castle, or descended into the depths of the cave. But because the game is all about exploration, and many golden brick tasks require you to enter these areas, it was an unavoidable problem. It got so bad in some areas that I had to relaunch my character into the world using the parachute to quickly exit the nausea-inducing area. Here’s to hoping they fix that in a future patch so players can spend more time embracing the good.
LEGO Worlds has been in development for quite some time now, but it seems like the developer could have used more time to add the needed polish. There is a lot of potential, and certainly fun to be had with the game, but a lot of frustration too. Despite the problems however, players (myself included) will undoubtedly be pulled in by Worlds‘ classic TT Games’ charm. It just doesn’t stack up with the rest of the games in the developers’ stable.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Editor’s Note: This review was completed using an Xbox One copy of LEGO Worlds, provided by Warner Brothers. Interactive Entertainment.
Images: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
How every Mass Effects biotic power works, according to science: