How The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame Captures the Magic of the Toys

By focusing on what makes LEGO great in real life, The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame breathes fresh life into the virtual franchise.

The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame packs in an entire universe of planets to explore, and thanks to this vastness, coupled with our own packed schedule, we’re quite a long way off from finishing the game. We’re not able to publish a full review at the moment, but we are having a fun time with the game and would like to shine a spotlight on some of its best features.

More so than any other LEGO game by Traveller’s Tales, this adaptation of The LEGO Movie 2 feels like a true love letter to the actual experience of playing with LEGO in real life. Rather than adapting the film that it’s based on with a slavish series of linear levels, The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame allows you to go off on tangents, swap characters to your heart’s content, and essentially craft your own experience.

From the opening moments of the game, you can choose between following the main story or tootling off to explore the area surrounding you. You’ll find funny little side missions dotted around, ranging from horse races to sticker-based decorating tasks, and completing these will reward you with unlockables such as extra characters and things to build.

This duality, the option to choose between the central story and more jovial bursts of play, has been featured in LEGO games before (the LEGO Lord of the Rings game springs to mind), but it’s never been so central to a game’s structure as it is here. Literally, at any point, you can wander off an do something silly if you don’t fancy pressing ahead with the movie’s narrative.

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Once you’ve moved on from the first couple of areas, there are two main galaxies to explore in The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame: there’s the “Systar System,” where the main story takes place; and the “Rex-plorer System,” where planets exist solely to offer you some extra things to muck around with. Both galaxies are packed with playable sections, ranging from an asteroid in space to the Old West, each of which has its own unique collectibles and challenges.

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The more unlockable items you collect, the more you can create a properly barmy gameplay experience that feels like something a child would dream up with their LEGO bricks in real life. For instance, you can craft a Batmobile in the Old West and have a chap dressed as a Watermelon drive it around. It’s fun to just play around like this, making it very tempting to pick the game up whenever you’ve got a few spare minutes to delve into its sandbox.

The building mechanics are also a sizeable leap forward compared to other games in the franchise. Rather than smashing up a few pre-ordained items and holding down a button to build the one thing the game wants you to make, you now collect color-coded bricks and bespoke designs as you move through the game. Your designs stay in your “Builder Page,” and you can make any of them whenever you like, provided that you have enough of the right color bricks.

There are plenty of times in the game where you have to build one specific thing to progress (e.g. build a sprinkler to make some plants grow into a pathway). But there are also heaps of opportunities to build whatever you fancy and see if it reaps any rewards (e.g. there are hidden items that can only be reached by building a bouncer). Again, there have been LEGO games that let you build different things before (LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens sometimes showed two options when a player had a building opportunity), but The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame takes this idea and pushes it further than any previous movie-adaptation by Traveller’s Tales.

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There’s even an area, and this may be the greatest feature the game, where you can construct entire buildings based on designs that you’ve picked up on your travels. By the time you’ve finished with the game, this area should look like a mish-mash of all the different worlds that you’ve visited along the way. In this free-for-all landscape, your Watermelon Man in his Batmobile can drive from an Old West tavern over to a modern-day pizza place. Truly, it’s like playing with an actual physical LEGO collection made up of lots of random stuff you’ve accumulated over the course of your life.

Given that the film version of The LEGO Movie 2 has a subplot about siblings learning to play together, mashing their different toy collections into one big pile of fun, this new tie-in game from Traveller’s Tales feels like a perfect match for its source material. It really captures that feeling of worlds colliding, synapses firing, and playtime bringing imagination to the fore.

The main story of the game is well worth a look, as well, as it offers a significantly extended version of the events from the film. Areas in the movie that are just briefly glimpsed (such as the asteroid field between Emmet’s domain and the Systar System) are expanded into fully explorable locations here, with their own casts of characters that feel like natural additions to the film universe. And although it’s the story that brings you here, you can come back later to explore a bit more and complete extra side-missions if you wish. The whole experience, the story, and the extra stuff are knitted together very nicely.

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So, it may be another installment in a long line of movie tie-ins from Traveller’s Tales, but The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame is also a significant upgrade of what a LEGO game can be. It’s a vast universe of planets, with even more worlds promised as upcoming DLC, where the player can collect hundreds of items, craft a huge number of things, and even build their own mish-mash world. It’s a mostly-open-world game with a movie-expanding storyline that also feels like a totally adaptable and personal experience.

Previous LEGO games have been fun, but this is the first one that really recreates that joyous experience of picking up a disparate bunch of bricks and seeing what you can make. 

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The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame is out now on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.