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LEGO Video Games: Best and Worst

8 September 2019 by Gnoll No Comment

I will come out and say it first: by no means do I consider myself a gamer. I like video games, and I play them a fair amount, but I’m not a gamer. My interest is very limited when it comes to most of the games on the market. I’ve never even played any games in many of the top game franchises of the last couple decades, but I can keep myself amused on classic Mario games for hours on end. There are a few game series from recent years I’ve gotten myself sucked into, such as the Grand Theft Auto series or the Little Big Planet games, but nothing has kept me glued to my gaming systems more than the licensed LEGO games produced by Traveller’s Tales. In fact, the entire reason why I eventually had to buy a PS3 (in 2012, six years after it had hit the market) was because I’d played all the games I had available on my PS2.

So, in the spirit of this site’s many lists, I’ve decided today to rank the games in this series from best to worst, starting with the best of them all. Mind you, these were all based on the PlayStation versions of these games.

Without further ado, here’s the list:

1. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (2011)

This game is utterly mindblowing. This was the first of the LEGO games to be designed for the seventh generation of platforms, and it’s leaps and bounds more complex than any previous game. The sheer number of characters, the size of the hub, and the massive amounts of side missions make this one where it’s impossible not to get your money’s worth. It helps that I was a big fan of the Clone Wars TV series, and the story followed several of the arcs that ran on that show. Some people may have been annoyed with the seemingly repetitive capture the flag-style battlefield missions where you have to play both as the Republic and as the Separatists, but I actually found this to be one of the best parts of the game. It reminded me of a classic strategy game updated with powerful graphics and smooth gameplay. There were no super-frustrating levels that I never thought I was going to get past, but still plenty of challenge to everything. I also can’t remember this game glitching on me one single time. I can’t recommend a game more, and plan to eventually go back and go through it again at some point.

2. Lego The Lord of the Rings (2012)

I was skeptical about this game at first. I knew that there were many reports of bugs and glitches, and some people complained that the hub was too big. But this one turned out to be a really fun game that provided lots of challenge and plenty of intrigue. The story levels are all straight out of the trilogy of films, which is my favorite format for one of these games. The hub is indeed immense – you essentially have access to all of Middle Earth and all of its towns and regions. Having to forge items and return them to people for items made for a fun experience, and really kept me thinking the whole time. There is dialogue in this one, but it’s all directly from the movies with the cut scenes being LEGO-ized versions of the real things, so it’s not too offputting. The biggest drawback was the fact that the game freezes once in a while and needs to be restarted, but that’s seemingly par for the course with some of the newer games in this series.

3. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (2006)

The second game in this series, and the one that made it a huge success. I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, and in particular the original trilogy, so the story mode covering the basic plot of the films is enough to put this near the top for me. But there’s plenty of wonderful humor to keep the game interesting. Lando Calrissian kissing Leia’s hand every time he comes near her comes to mind immediately. Yes, in retrospect it’s a pretty simple game, with a small hub (just the Cantina in Mos Eisley) and very littel in the way of side missions, but there are few who play this game and won’t tell you it’s one of the most fun games you’ll ever experience.

4. Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008)

I sat on this game for a while before I got around to playing it. I actually played Indiana Jones first, because I knew it followed a trilogy and therefore would be similar to the Star Wars games in that respect. When I finally got around to this one, I started slowly. The story is not based on any particular story arc, and the concept of differnet suits rather than different characters performing most of the special tasks took a little getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, it wound up being one of the most fun games in the series. What’s unique about this game is that it’s twice the size of the Star Wars games, as there is a story mode for both heroes and villains. Pulling out some classic and somewhat underappreciated Bat-villains like Killer Moth and The Mad Hatter was a definite plus for me as well.

5. Lego Harry Potter: Years 1–4 (2010)

This game really surprised me. This was the first LEGO game to blur the lines between missions and the hub, introducing “ghost studs” that led you to the next mission rather than just having fixed portals. And the hub is impressive itself. Not only do you get to explore Hogwart’s Castle, but the grounds as well, and you basically need a road map to find your way around sometimes. The gameplay is fun, the massive amount of playable characters is impressive, and the story mode does a fun job o following the movies and books. Introducing the idea of adding abilities through classes was an innovative addition to this series.

6. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)

In a lot of ways, this is my favorite of all these games. In a lot of other ways, it frustrated me nearly to the point of insanity, and to the detriment of fun. The story mode is a bit contrived, as are many of the other games that don’t follow a preexisting plotline, but the gameplay is fun enough to make up for it. The Hub is probably my favorite one yet, laying out a mini-version of Manhattan that is so detailed that you’ll have trouble wrapping your brain around the programming that went into it. There’s a massive collection of playable characters, and a lot of really fun side missions. The Deadpool missions you need to play to acquire the red bricks for power-ups were great, and gave real focus to the game goals. The real plus is all the clever easter eggs, subtly referencing everything from The Wizard of Oz, Snakes on a Plane, The Incredibles, and even Batman along the way. However, the mechanics in the hub world are different than in the levels, which is really frustrating when it comes to missions where you have to fly – and there’s a lot of those.

7. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012)

Like LEGO Marvel, this one has a huge hub in which an entire city, in this case Gotham, can be explored. And it’s got plenty of good things going for it beyond that. The story is a bit dull, and shoehoring all the other DC characters into a “Batman” game doesn’t make that much sense when you could just call it “LEGO DC Super Heroes”, but that doesn’t affect the gameplay. The real disappointment with this one is that it didn’t have the villain levels like the first Batman game did, and was so vastly different from that game that it barely even qualifies as a sequel to begin with. The issues with the mechanics differing between overworld and missions that were prevelant in LEGO Marvel originated here, and it’s quite frustrating. Retrieving bonus content from rooftops while having to switch between the various Batman and Robin suits may have been a good idea in theory, but it can be incredibly frustrating, especially for those times where you get 9/10ths the way there and realize you’re lacking the right suit, or worse yet, accidentally fall off the building. this was also the first game to utilize voice acting rather than the comedic grunts of past games, which I still think was a step in the wrong direction for this series.

8. Lego Star Wars: The Video Game (2005)

The one that started it all. This game was a lot of fun when it came out, and still holds up pretty well considering it’s a decade old now. It’s the smallest of all the games, with a tiny hub in Dexter’s Diner and very little in the way of bonus content outside of the main missions. The vehicle missions are frustrating, but they’re not too prevelant. A good start to the series, although not one I ever expect to pick up and play again. Honestly, in retrospect, I’m glad this one came out before the Original Trilogy, otherwise I might have been disappointed in this being the second in the series, and also this gave the developers more time to put more “oomph” into the sequel.

9. Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (2008)

It’s almost unfair that this game is so low on the list, because it’s really a fun game with very few drawbacks. The Indiana Jones trilogy (remember kids, no matter what they tell you, there’s only three movies) is perfect for adapting into a game like this, and there’s lots of fun characters to unlock. Nothing beats sucking people’s hearts from their bodies while playing as Mola Ram.

10. Lego Harry Potter: Years 5–7 (2011)

So, I have to start with a caveat: most everyone ranks this game above the first one, but my view is skewed. My copy of the game was glitched, and twice I got to a certain point and was unable to continue with the level, utilizing two different save slots. Based on that, I have to knock this one down a few notches. Otherwise, I can see how it might be considered a better game than 1-4 to some, as the graphics are a little smoother and there’s more of Hogwart’s to explore, and it goes along with the much darker and adult-themed films in the second half of the saga. Maybe I should rank this one as simply “incomplete”, but I still feel like I can honestly rank it above the next two.

11. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (2011)

LEGO Pirates feels like a placeholder in a sense. It’s not really a bad game, but a particularly good one either, and the fact that it’s far less complex than the first Harry Potter game, which came out a year before it, is a bit of a disappointment. Getting through the story is often a bit repetitive, and there’s not a lot of stuff to explore in the overworld/hub area. If you’re a really big fan of the film series, perhaps it will carry more weight for you, but as someone who enjoyed the first one a lot and was fairly indifferent on the sequels, I didn’t find myself as emotionally invested in this one.

12. The Lego Movie Videogame (2014)

It may be unfair, since I’m in the midst of playing this one now, but I can’t honestly rank this one any higher than dead last at the moment. Immediately, you notice that it feels different than every other game in the series thus far, partly because of the fact that the characters move stiffly, as they do in the movie itself. There’s also the fact that you’re taking a 90 minute movie that’s only been around for a few months and stretching it out into 8+ hours of gameplay just to get through the story mode, which means a lot of dull battles with minions and not a lot of things that really flow with the movie itself. The hub seems to have an interesting concept, with portals connecting all the different worlds, but none of those worlds are very expansive and there’s not nearly the level of desire to just play around in the overworld like there were in the last several games in the series. Maybe my attitude will change as I play more, but for now I feel like this is a disappointment overall.

Unranked:
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2007)

I own this on Wii, but I hate the controllers and haven’t gotten far in it. Essentially, it’s the first two LEGO games put together with a coupl eof bonus levels, so by that right, it’s probably a pretty darn good game, just one that I didn’t have much of a desire to jump into right away.

Lego Rock Band (2009)

This game doesn’t count. It just doesn’t.

Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (2009)

I have yet to play this one. It rehashes the original Indiana Jones game, but with different versions of all the levels, and apparently no free play. It focuses very heavily on that Crystal Skull movie that I like to pretend doesn’t exist too, so again, not a top priority.

Lego The Hobbit (2014)

Why they didn’t wait a couple of years and do one that covered the movie trilogy is a mystery to me, but this is the next one in my queue to play. I’ve got a copy and will give it a spin in the near future. If it’s half as good as LEGO Lord of the Rings, then I’m sure it will be a fun one.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (2014)

I’m looking forward to this one, but I’ve not gotten my hands on it yet. It looks to be the biggest in the series thus far, and should be a fun time investment.

Sadly, for the first time in ages, there’s no official announcement of an upcoming game in this series at the time that I type this. There’s strong buzz that a Jurassic Park themed game will be out in the summer of this year, considering that there’s a new movie and a LEGO toy tie-in, but nothing has been officially announced. And I’m sure that there’s some work going on behind the scenes to get games tied into the Star Wars Rebels series or the upcoming Episode 7 out in the future. Still, if I had a wish list, these franchises would be on it:

Lego Toy Story

This seems ripe for a LEGO game. Three movies to base it on, all of Andy’s house as a hub, and story levels that write themselves. Sending the army men to spy on Christmas morning, navigating Al’s Toy Barn, or escaping from Sunnyside all work perfectly as levels in a game like this. And considering LEGO has a working agreement with Disney and has produced Toy Story sets in the past, it seems like it had to have been discussed at some point.

Lego Back to the Future

With the release of the LEGO Ideas DeLorean, this one seems like it could be a possibility. With the idea of time travel means the potential for multiple hubs. Having the hub set in Hill Valley in the old west, the 1950s, the 1980s, and 2015 would give the potential for multiple levels of challenge in a game, and I just know the soundtrack would be awesome.

Lego Ghostbusters

There’s only been two movies, but a third one is apparently on the way, and with the Ecto-1 being released as part of the LEGO Ideas series as well, this one is a perfect match. I can only imagine how much fun fighting the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man would be as the first movie story climaxed, and having New York again in the overworld with the fire station as the obvious choice for a central hub area makes me giddy with hope for what might be one day.

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