September 19, 2017

Lego Worlds - Review

When Lego Worlds first hit early access on Steam a few years back, I was excited, given the freedom that actual Lego bricks offers, a digital version should be even more open, now that the game has finally landed on Switch I have had the chance to sink a lot of hours into the game, and the result?

There is not a story, per say, in Lego Worlds, you are an adventurer and you are making your way through the universe, that is pretty much it, how you go about it is up to you. Each world you explore offers you up multiple ways of collecting the required Gold Bricks, which in turn allow you to unlock more worlds and gadgets, which let you move closer to the goal. The progress path is basic, but as I mentioned it is how you achieve that is where the fun comes in, you can be a pal and help the locals of the worlds you visit, hunt down hidden gold bricks yourself, or chase down the creatures that sometimes appear, the choice is yours.

Each of the worlds you visit is randomly created, meaning that until you get down there and explore, you will never know what you will find. From space, you will get an idea of the theme, sand coloured usually means desert, like green usually means farm, but its not always the case, as green can also means Swamp or Forest, so exploring is going to help you out more than anything else. As you explore, you will come across the people of those worlds, who are all doing their own thing around there and helping them out will get you a reward, sometimes it is a gold brick, other times it is an item, which will help you out later. The tasks they have for you, can be quite simple, like adding a required number of pigs to a pen, or building a science outpost and while those tasks may seem like very different, the execution is quite similar.

When you first land on your first world, you will be introduced to the range of tools that you can use, a few of which you will use a lot, the first is the Discovery Tool and it is going to be your go to tool for most everything. As you explore the worlds, you will discover lots of things from animals, to vehicles, plants and beyond; and using the tool, you can scan them and add them to your collection. Once in there, you can unlock them for your own use, by spending the studs you collect and then once unlocked, you can add them to your world, however many times you want. There are restrictions on what you can scan, some people or animals won’t let you scan them, until you have completed a quest for them, but other than that, you are free to do what you want.

There are times when people will want you to build things and there is a 50/50 split between your own buildings or using a kit and while building your own thing is fine, the kits are the easiest way to accomplish things. However, locating them requires you to hunt them down, occasionally, you might net one as a reward form another task, but most of them are hidden in the caves and tunnels, which act more like a labyrinth that runs through the world. Locating the entrance to the caves can prove to be a hassle at times, but once you do find them, exploring what lies beneath can be quite fun and there is more than the odd treasure chest down there as well. Thankfully, getting out and in, can be helped thanks to the terrain shaping tool, which will let you create massive holes into the group, flatten and otherwise reshape the world as you desire.

With the range of tools provided and the number of items to use, there seems to be no end to what you can do with Lego Worlds, something I am happy to enjoy, however there is a concern and it stems from the lack of purpose. Making your way towards the final planet, is a nice goal, but the game never explains why, there is a counter next to your ship, letting you know how many gold bricks you need for the next unlock, but it never provides a reason as to why that matters. Given how almost every other Lego game has a story, finding almost nothing here is quite a letdown and given the history of the studio, something a little more substantial would have been welcome.

The other area that Lego Worlds struggles is in its performance, the game runs fine on Switch, but you can tell there was either a lack of effort given to the polish the game received, or a lack of time and I am hoping it was the former. The game worlds start out small and as you progress, they open up too much larger spaces and when you include the underground sections, there is a lot in each space, the issue is that you can only ever see so far in front of you, before you get nothing. The draw distance on the land mass is quite small, with hills, trees and other things popping in as you get closer and while that may not be an issue to most and it would not be to me, it is hampered by the fact that everything else between your character and that edge loads in slow as well. There were times when I would be walking towards a building, only to have it fill in part way, waiting for me to get closer, before the rest would load. Being tasked with locating objects and then having to run around in tiny circles, until he game loaded the content was nothing short of annoying.

The game was not without bugs as well, there were times when characters would not register that I had completed the task, while not game breaking, it happened far too often for my liking, but without a doubt the worst one happed after getting the best item, the grapple gun. The grapple gun is an item that allows you to launch yourself either up, or pull yourself across the ground and when it works, it’s fun. When doing it across the map, if you jump towards the end of the move, you will launch yourself further forward, like Batman does, the problem was a few times, the game would glitch out and I would find myself, propelling upwards, unable to move in any direction and trying it would only stop my upwards movement. Using the games inbuilt reset option, which is promoted as, if stuck, did not work. Quitting out to the menu and loading up the game did not fix it either, I had to actually quit the entire game and reload back into it, to be able to walk upon the ground.

Lego Worlds is a game that offers you almost unlimited options, thanks to the world being made from the Lego brick and players will find a lot to do here. The campaign however lacks direction and the game suffers from a poor overall performance, thankfully the freedom to do and play as you want, offsets this slightly.

Thanks to Warner Bros Interactive for supplying the game for review

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