The Parr Family is finally getting the LEGO treatment for their new video game LEGO The Incredibles. When The Incredibles first released, nearly 14 years ago, the world was a different place. Superheroes weren’t the cinematic money-making machine they are now and LEGO wasn’t making video games of every popular property under the sun. Both have changed over the years and the latter doesn't work in The Incredibles' favor.
Even though The Incredibles 2 doesn’t feel much like a modern superhero movie, the film releasing into the current superhero craze has made the movie well worth the wait. The same can’t be said of LEGO The Incredibles. The newest LEGO video game set in The Incredibles universe has its moments. Yet it ends up being tied down and limited by the standard conventions of the LEGO genre. The Incredibles, as a movie franchise, is all about defying expectations. LEGO The Incredibles does nothing that previous games in the series haven't done and done better.
LEGO The Incredibles is broken up into two sections. The first half are the campaign missions. These start out adapting the plot of The Incredibles 2 and then loop back around to the first film. The other half of the game is an open world section that tasks players with exploring the large city map of Municiberg and Urbem.Though the better section, by far, is the open world material, the main thrust of the game is the campaign missions.
The campaign plays out exactly as it does in all other LEGO Games. A cutscene, usually remixing a scene from the movie, opens them and then quest begins. At least two playable characters are provided, and each mission can be played in solo or co-op modes. Although other more recent LEGO games have done something clever and interesting with their story missions and level design, LEGO The Incredibles takes the easy and expected path through each of its 10 story missions, each of which take about an 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
The missions unfold in the same very linear fashion. They follow the same repeated pattern of entering a new area, smashing the attack button to destroy everyone and everything in that area, doing some light but very floaty platforming and then lastly building something (by holding down a button) or using a character’s special skill (by holding down a button). These character abilities sound exciting but they don't really add much to the game. Violet can traverse over toxic waste but she's not the only character with that type of ability.
Of course, there are still the same collectibles that are scattered throughout every LEGO game in LEGO The Incredibles missions. To get all the minikits, golden blocks and studs in LEGO The Incredibles requires playing the missions again in Free Play Mode. Free Play Mode offers use of new characters that have their own special skills and they are unlocked through other means (more on that in a bit). However, replaying a story mission, even with a radically different character, is still more of the same. Jack-Jack filling the role that his mom played in the movie isn't nearly enough to justify the multiple playthroughs necessary to get every collectible.
There are some moments of creativity and levity in the story missions, such as sections where Elastigirl rides her motorcycle or baby Jack-Jack engages in a superpowered showdown with racoon. Yet most of LEGO The Incredibles is a rinse-and-repeat type of game design that gets very boring, very quickly for anyone whose age is in double digits.
The repetitive nature of the story missions definitely isn't helped by the fact that LEGO The Incredibles follows the plots of movies very closely. A voice cast is used for the minifigure characters in LEGO The Incredibles, some even played by movie actors including Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul), but the talent are used to recreate or repeat what was done before (and done better) in the movies.
The new voice cast is very talented but they can't help but be compared to the cinematic version and come up wanting because the tones of LEGO and Pixar doesn't exactly fit. LEGO The Incredibles attempts to meld the sophomoric tone of LEGO games with the family-friendly tone of Pixar throughout the cutscenes of the campaign. There are times when it works but when a brash LEGO joke follows a cute Pixar one or worse, replaces it, the difference is jarring.
Not everything about LEGO The Incredibles is hopeless. The open world sections do feel a lot more lively than anything in the campaign. The open world isn’t nearly as restrictive. There's not this strong adherence to adapting the story or forcing the playable characters down long hallways with a specific purpose. In the open world every character is open to the player, even brand new ones that you can create with their own unique powers and costumes.
The open world gameplay include several side activities and objectives. There are races which test your speed and platforming skills. There are Crime Sprees that randomly pop up, introduced by a semi-amusing news clip, that see a group of supercriminal attack a section of the city. These criminals then must be taken out by a series of side quests. The side quests do basically boil down to going here and smashing someone or something. However, the originality of their setup does make them worth it. Mr. Incredible punching a super criminal devoted to stealing ice cream in the face is too adorable to ignore. In addition to the races and Crime Sprees, there’s other smaller side objectives, like repairing all the broken fire hydrants in an area or jumping through literal hoops.
The best and biggest section of the open world though is their hidden missions. These involve obtaining one of the game’s elusive red blocks. Those red blocks, once grabbed, net a big reward, usually a new playable character. There’s a lot of variations in how to reach a red block. Sometimes its as simple as bashing a suspiciously glowing group of objects or it can multi-tiered exploration that uses several character abilities. This difference in unlocking the red blocks make them worth the effort because it breaks up the monotony of the rest of the title.
However, the unlockables that come with the red blocks themselves are very underwhelming. A lot of it has to do with the license itself. The Incredibles, with only two movies, isn’t big enough to require over 100 playable characters the game boasts. Most of the playable roster ends up being the same character just in different outfits. For example, Dash Parr in his vacation clothes and Dash Parr in his Incredibles suit are treated as separate characters. This is terrible and makes that 100 playable cast little more than a lie.
Thankfully, LEGO The Incredibles does pad out the playable cast in other ways. The smart movies made to add some other Pixar character. Dory from Finding Nemo and Woody from Toy Story can become playable characters. The creativity of Woody standing side by side with Edna Mode is way more enjoyable than seems possible. While it doesn’t quite make up for the crushing disappointment of unlocking Violet’s boyfriend, Tony Rydinger, it does come close.
LEGO The Incredibles isn't entirely without value. The first playthrough of the main campaign is short but to unlock everything in the story missions and open world will require several hours on top of the game's initial roughly 10-hour runtime. However buying LEGO The Incredibles, let alone attempting to everything it has to offer is only for two very specific types of people. The people that are going to get the most out of LEGO The Incredibles are the die-hard Incredibles fans who need more of the Parr Family in their life or little kids who will enjoy the fun of playing as Frozone much more than the repetitive objectives they’ll be accomplishing ad nauseum.
The best and worst thing that can be said about LEGO The Incredibles is that it’s a LEGO game. It hews very closely to the conventions and mechanics of the previous LEGO games. LEGO The Incredibles is exactly as advertised and if the previous LEGO games were enjoyable, this will be passable too. However, LEGO The Incredibles does nothing to attract new fans or even those who are thinking about returning to the brick filled collect-a-thon.
LEGO The Incredibles is available now for $39.99 on PC and $59.99 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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