The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Video Game Reviews

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Slam Shot Sam
615,654 (332,823)
Slam Shot Sam
TA Score for this game: 179
Posted on 06 October 17 at 10:55
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The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Video Game | Xbox One | Review

The original LEGO Star Wars was a breath of fresh air when it released back in 2005, but as its blueprint was reused year-on-year the LEGO series began to shed its new-brick shine. Having taken a lengthy break as a result, returning to find that familiar formula turned on its head was a very pleasant surprise.

Based on an original LEGO property, rather than a licensed one, The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Video Game is a direct tie-in to, you guessed it: The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, which hits UK cinemas on 13 October. Pulling clips from its big-screen counterpart, the game provides players the chance to experience events from the film first hand.

Almost seamlessly blended with those movie snippets are cinematic in-game cutscenes, which set the young elemental ninjas on course to defend their homeland of Ninjago from invading Lord Garmadon. The writing, voice performances and visual design are infused with a characterful LEGO flair and knack for slapstick humour that makes the NINJAGO universe immediately likeable, even to the totally uninitiated.

Stylish, oriental-infused presentation and an abundance of quirky Easter eggs make exploring the game’s eight wide-open areas a pleasure. These areas essentially serve as miniature open worlds, which, in place of the usual LEGO structuring around a central hub with linear levels branching off of it, creates a more engaging and consistently-paced adventure on the whole.

While you’ll engage in many familiar activities along the way - like destroying everything in sight to gather studs to spend, or switching between characters to use their individual powers in solving simple puzzles - traversal is on another level thanks to an expanded set of platforming skills. Well-animated ledge grabs, mantles, wall runs, and much more, feel natural and fluid (when the awkward camera doesn’t interfere), succeeding in making you feel like one of the agile starring ninjas.

LEGO NINJAGO's reworked combat system also succeeds on that front. There’s a Batman Arkham-style automatic targeting system, which keeps combat focused and fast-paced, preventing encounters devolving into flailing brawls as they could in previous LEGO games, in addition to a suite of new moves that can be tactically employed against different enemy types. As you kinetically whizz between baddies you’ll build a combo multiplier, which also proportionally multiplies your stud intake; this addresses a problem the series has had for a while, in that battles have completely lacked stakes. It's now in your best interest to make good use of your offensive options and a defensive dodge roll in order to maximise your earnings.

The writing, voice performances and visual design are infused with a characterful LEGO flair and knack for slapstick humour that makes the NINJAGO universe immediately likeable, even to the totally uninitiated.
The more you play, the more satisfying the combat gets, as you progressively unlock Ninjanuity tokens used to purchase upgrades from a skill tree. All in all, there’s actually some decent, if simplistic, spectacle fighting here - kids especially will adore the busy visual effects and flashy finishing manoeuvres.

They’ll undoubtedly enjoy piloting transforming Mechs in explosive rail-shooter sections as well, though there’s less here for adults to enjoy. While visually impressive and an occasional welcome change of pace, the shooting is underwhelming when you’ve been spoilt by dedicated shooters.

The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Video Game is far from a cynical cash-in, evolving the LEGO game formula in significant ways to make for an action-adventure that stands up on its own. There are still some familiar foibles here, plus loading takes an age, but the improved mechanics and glut of engaging activities make it a blast whether you’re playing solo, in local drop-in/drop-out co-op, or competitive local multiplayer.

Pros

+ Kinetic, combo-based combat
+ Much-improved platforming
+ Tweaked structure makes for a more consistent and engaging pacing
+ Immediately likeable world and characters
+ Movie clips are well-integrated and don’t feel jarring

Cons

- Camera can be obstructive
- Lengthy load times
- Underwhelming shooter segments

8/10

Achievements:

If you've ever played a LEGO game, you already know what to expect from the achievements. Gathering all of the collectibles and completing the side content, along with satisfying a few simple miscellaneous tasks, will see you through to 100% completion. There's nothing difficult about it, you'll just need to commit to setting a good few hours aside.

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Originally written for Pass the Controller, a physical copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my PlayStation reviews over at TrueTrophies.

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