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The Next Generation for LEGO Games: Looking Ahead To New Adventures


John Kidman

TT Games has a recognizable formula with their ever-popular LEGO titles, but their distinctive formula continues to evolve with each new license and generation of console. The traditional cooperative gameplay still provides one of the best co-op experiences to date and goes so far as to transcend generational divides.

 

The path that lies ahead for licensed LEGO games can only be determined by taking into consideration past adventures. Changes in the radial menu, dynamic split-screen game play and expansion to a world beyond a stale hub are just a few examples of how TT Games is constantly searching out areas of improvement for their craft. One of the most prolific changes has been the evolution in the way the stories unfold.

 

 

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Familiar Surroundings Made Better

 

The standard hubs found in LEGO Indiana Jones and LEGO Star Wars appear as little more than a relic when placed side-by-side with the overworld experiences found in LEGO The Lord of the Rings and LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes. This alteration truly broadened the potential for all future LEGO games by expanding the experience beyond the confines of a story mission. Unfortunately, licensed LEGO games fall into the same pitfalls as any other multiple platform title and are typically held back by the constraints of the weaker systems.

 

A compelling argument can be made that much of the squandered potential in the original LEGO Batman and LEGO Indiana Jones were a result of reluctance to abandon the Playstation 2 and Nintendo's Wii. This reluctance, however, is based in a reality where the consoles still held a significant market share well into the life cycle of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The Playstation 2 and Wii are completely out of the picture for development purposes and companies that thrive on easily ported games now find themselves with a set of more powerful base systems to thoroughly explore. Although the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 will likely remain the base launching platform for most upcoming LEGO titles, despite the existence of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, the margin for potential is greater than ever before.

 

 

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TT Games officially wrapped their release of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes in late 2013, but were already neck-deep in studs with The LEGO Movie Videogame and LEGO: The Hobbit. The media focus may be on the new generation of consoles, but the next few projects will undoubtedly play a major role in determining the viability of future licensed LEGO brands in console video games. Recent upgrades in the TT Games formula suggest the company is firmly facing forward, but there is also room to suggest that the company should also be looking backwards.

 

 

 

Premature Release

 

One problem that the LEGO: The Hobbit game now faces echoes an issue that plagued [/size]LEGO Indiana Jones all the way back in 2008. The date of release for the ill-fated installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, came a mere month prior to the LEGO Indiana Jones game and the content was conspicuously absent. LEGO: The Hobbit only follows the adventure through The Desolation of Smaug, which leaves the events of The Five Armies hanging in the balance. WB and TT Games had two distinct paths before them: release a standalone title akin to Lego Indiana Jones 2, which was a major source of discontent with their fanbase, or embrace the digital age.

 

In an unsurprising move, WB and TT Games chose the latter, announcing that The Five Armies conclusion will be available as downloadable content. This does not rule out the potential for a "Complete Edition" with all available Hobbit content or even a "Tolkien Edition" that includes both franchises on a single disc, but this is certainly a step in the right direction as it leaves the door open for franchises with the most content-hungry fans.

 

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From Cooperative To Party

 

Another aspect of the licensed LEGO formula which remains static is the number of players. Several franchises exist which could greatly benefit from expanding the number of players to four. The solid online capabilities offered from consoles could allow for even greater drop-in and drop-out game play. So why not make it a party?

 

What better franchise to begin the four player experience than with a LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game? A

featuring LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a voice over from the Nickelodeon reboot cropped up on Youtube in June of 2013. The video, sitting at over a million hits, led many to ponder the possibility of this fantasy becoming a reality through video games... assuming certain licensing issues did not prevent such marvelous ideas from coming to fruition.

 

Online capabilities, expanded cooperative experiences and major story downloadable content are just a few areas which licensed LEGO games could easily explore in the future. Questions can be raised when it comes to the direction of TT Games, but if LEGO Marvel Superheroes and LEGO City Undercover are examples of the quality we can expect from the next generation of LEGO games, then this is one gamer who will remain anxiously excited.

 

What changes would you like to see in new LEGO titles? What licensed franchises would you love to see tackled by TT Games?

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