LEGO The Incredibles Review
I don’t know my Incredibles from my Toy Stories, but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying TT Games’ LEGO The Incredibles. Sure, it’s the same ol’ thing folks have played time and time again over the past decade or so, but the formula still manages to work despite its predictability. As usual, you’ll blast through a dozen or so levels using the game’s numerous characters to solve puzzles, destroy the environment, and lay waste to an adorable assortment of wacky villains. It’s colorful, zany, and, more importantly, a joy to play. I spent way too much time roaming the expansive hub world in my endless quest to collect builder blocks and complete simple side quests. Even after over 20 hours with the game, there’s still plenty to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. LEGO The Incredibles doesn’t shake up the framework of the LEGO franchise, and the controls and cameras are still problematic, but it doesn’t do anything inherently wrong. It’s a perfectly serviceable experience overflowing with content, collectibles, and fun, which is what fans have come to expect from these games.
LEGO The Incredible pulls from both of Pixar’s acclaimed superhero movies, which should delight those who excitedly lined up for the recently released sequel. The game opens with the heroic family taking on the devious Underminer, a nefarious individual who, like his fellow miscreants, sports a humorous name and a bold plan for mindless destruction. Warning: If you’re frequently annoyed by corny dad jokes, LEGO The Incredibles will have you reaching for the POWER button on your console within the first fifteen minutes. I’m always down for an abundance of silly humor, so the game’s frequent puns and inoffensive buffoonery only added to the colorful, eye-popping atmosphere. The opening sequence, as with other LEGO games, paints a clear picture of what’s to come, and it rarely deviates from it.
If you’ve seen both Incredibles movies, then the story will seem very familiar. For the first few levels, the game focuses on the sequel, which finds Elastigirl (voiced by actress Holly Hunter) teaming up with a company called DevTech to lead a group of oddball superheroes, including a dude named Reflux who uses his unpleasant digestive problems to take down enemies. Their mission: Take down a sinister villain called The Screenslaver, a dastardly fiend who uses televisions, computers, and phones (basically anything with a screen) to control the minds of the populous. Get it? Meanwhile, her husband, Mr. Incredible (voiced by the amazing Craig T. Nelson), adjusts to his role as a stay-at-home dad. To complicate matters further, their baby has started to develop powers of his own, which includes transforming into a ravenous monster and blasting things with fire. Yes, it’s as silly as it sounds. Thankfully, TT Games handles the humor with enough winks and nudges that even adults can get in on the fun. That’s a balancing act few developers can accomplish. Somehow, they make it seem easy and effortless.
LEGO games generally have pretty amazing set pieces, but LEGO The Incredibles has pumped up the proverbial volume. Many of the levels are pure insanity, from rescuing an important government official from a burning airplane to leaping across the top of an out-of-control hover train. And because the LEGO experience aims for enjoyment and relaxation over difficulty and challenge, these levels never feel overwhelming despite their hectic nature. They’re thrilling without making you work for the adrenaline rush, which, when you’re still struggling through a game like Bloodborne or Nioh, is a nice change of pace. Sadly, LEGO The Incredibles loses its momentum when it shifts its focus to the first movie during the second half of the game. While this isn’t a huge problem, the experience does feel top heavy and a little frontloaded. After all, it’s hard to top a set piece that finds Elastigirl fighting brainwashed enemies inside a plummeting airplane while surrounded by giant neon green flat-panel screens. My inner seven-year-old couldn’t get enough; all I needed was a bowl of cereal.
Of course, LEGO The Incredibles presents these missions in a very familiar and somewhat vanilla fashion. If you’ve played any of the previous LEGO games, then you know the formula by heart: enter an area, watch a cutscene, and then start breaking things until you’ve completed the objective. Again, if you go in with the expectation that TT Games isn’t breaking the mold, you’ll have no problems. That said, players who have grown tired of the same old thing will likely feel that the setup has grown stale and, perhaps, kind of lazy. The developers definitely stick to the “if it’s not broken” philosophy, which means that LEGO The Incredibles plays exactly like previous entries in the LEGO video game machine. This argument applies to a lot of franchises that pump out titles with the same gameplay year after year, so it really comes down to individual taste. So if you’ve had your fill of LEGO’s antics, then there’s nothing new for you to see here. At some point, TT Games will need to try something new, but for now, their formula still manages to get the job done. That’s a compliment, by the way.
As such, many of the franchise’s flaws, problems, and blemishes are present and accounted for. Camera issues often prevent you from seeing objectives, particularly when you’re in close quarters. And when you’re beating up a handful of bad guys in an enclosed space, you’re better off mashing the attack button and hoping for the best. Occasionally, your chosen superhero’s power will work against you; Frozone’s ice ray, for example, would often begin aiming at the sky for no apparent reason, despite my best efforts. And don’t get me started on the helicopter controls, which were seemingly mapped by someone who’s never used a helicopter in the game before. Truth be told, I never truly got the hang of it. Whenever I needed to use one, I winged it and hoped for the best. And speaking of vehicles, the cars are a little too drifty at times, though you probably won’t use them enough to really care. It sounds like a lot, I’m sure, but again, it’s typical LEGO jankiness.
However, these problems become less of an issue when you’re wandering around New Urbem, and Municiberg, the game’s two open-world hubs. Trying to get a helicopter to land on the roof of a skyscraper remains an issue (maybe it’s just me), but this and similar problems kind of melt of away when you’re hunting for the game’s abundance of collectibles. Hidden throughout both hubs are a mountain of gold bricks, red bricks, races, and unique encounters, which sometimes result in the unlocking of a new character. One moment you’re racing around the city to beat a timed race, the next you’re stopping a crook from making off with some poor woman’s cash. There’s always something happening in this LEGO world, even if it’s you smashing apart cars with reckless abandon. Just because you’re a superhero doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some wanton destruction like everyone else. Perish the thought. The amount of pure chaos you can create using the game’s deep list of characters (including some surprise Pixar cameos) seems endless. Have you ever wanted to smash up vehicles or take down bad guys as Woody from Toy Story? Now’s your chance. This kind of opportunity doesn’t happen too often.
It’s difficult to recommend LEGO The Incredibles to someone who doesn’t like LEGO games. To be perfectly blunt, if you’ve played any of the titles from this franchise, you’ve essentially played them all. Maybe that’s unfair and an unnecessary simplification of the entire catalog of LEGO games, but it’s also kind of true. That said, the game doesn’t skimp on the fun, and there’s plenty to do once you’ve wrapped up the 10-hour campaign. But, as we all know, beating the campaign and then collecting everything under the sun is the best part of any LEGO game. In that sense, the game succeeds despite the problems TT Games has yet to address. Will it transform naysayers into hardcore LEGO fanatics? Probably not. But then again, it wasn’t made for them. Lego The Incredibles provides hours of enjoyment, fanservice, and inspired set pieces inside a colorful world that’s fun to explore — even when the helicopter gives you fits. And when you’re rolling around on bombs as Mr. Incredible or stopping a crime as the little kid from Up, you likely won’t care that you’ve done this sort of a hundred times before.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. A copy was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
LEGO The Incredibles gives you everything you want from a LEGO game without breaking the mold. However, it doesn't address any of the franchise's problems and ultimately feels like the same old thing.