- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An unlikely hero armed with flashy trousers and a jackhammer takes on corporate conformity in the brick-building epic The Lego Movie Videogame (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games, Rated Everyone, reviewed with PlayStation 4, $59.99).

Based on the wildly entertaining movie now in theaters, the interactive maelstrom allows up to a pair of players to control mini-block figures plucked from the cinematic epic.

They co-operatively solve environmental puzzles, construct and deconstruct a variety of Lego-ized objects and vehicles to use in missions, and collect an assortment of studs to unlock characters while completely immersing themselves in a clever, colorful world.

Unlike, previous games for the Lego franchise that took some rich franchises (such as “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Arc,” Marvel Comics, “Lord of the Rings” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” to name a few) and transformed them into brick wonderlands, TT Games is a bit confined to suck as much diversity and fun out of a single movie plot.

The developers handily succeed by building upon previous game designs to deliver an exciting experience for the kids and, dare I report, adults.

Within 15 levels of action spread out over such locales as the active metropolis of Bricksburg, Wild West’s Flatbush Gulch and the anime acid trip dance party known as Cloud Cuckoo Land, players work through the life of a construction worker named Emmet Brickowski.

With the help of an acrobatic female named Wyldstyle, staff-wielding blind wizard named Vitrunius and Batman (that’s right kiddies), he must battle the forces of the evil Lord Business and free the Master Builders and the Lego universe.

Moments to savor include a high-speed escape on a constructed motorcycle that was as exciting as highway battle in “The Matrix Reloaded,” controlling the too-cute Princess Unikitty who turns into a robot-munching monster if pushed too hard by her foes and the dry-witted comments of actor Morgan Freeman as the voice of Vitrunius.

As the more than 90 unlockable characters become available to control (often purchased by spending collected studs), children can enjoy adventures with pop-culture legends that exponentially add to the fun.

No disrespect to Emmet, but playing as Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman and, of course, Abraham Lincoln and Shakespeare (who tosses poor Yorick’s skull like a bomb) is a much more, powers-packed, rewarding time.

The action also uses two more complex types of building mechanics besides simply holding a controlling button near a twinkling pile of bricks.

First, using a character with Master Builder credentials allows the player at certain point in the action to target pieces of the environment.

For example, Vitrunius targets and rips apart pieces of a locomotive (the glowing green ones) and tosses them into a Lego cyclone while he rapidly builds a massive ramp to thwart the plans of Bad Cop.

Next, Emmet and his construction worker brethren have the ability to take instructions (looking ripped from a real Lego set) and read them to build objects.

A player must find the correct amount of blueprints and move a character on a hotspot to trigger the challenge. As a Lego, such as a covered wagon, is automatically being built, a brick wheel pops up, and the player must choose the correct item to keep the build going. The quicker he reacts; the more studs he collects.

As with previous games, once a level mission is completed, players can go back through the area in a freestyle mode and use any character unlocked to look for all of the goodies and new surprises.

And, with all Lego video games for the console, playing with a friend in the spilt-screen, co-operative mode is both rewarding and frustrating.

Working out strategies to solve puzzles leads to wonderful logic-honing skill and teamwork moments, but two stubborn players, with their own ideas for success, might end up in real fisticuffs.

Finally, I’ll note that I was not that impressed with PlayStation 4 version of the game. The cut scenes were a bit fuzzy, and I did not really see any pixel-popping complexity of environments harnessing the power of the PS4. Also, the action did not incorporate any of the extra interactivity of the Dualshock 4 controller.

However, when the last chorus of “Everything is Awesome” is sung, The Lego Movie Videogame (let’s see how long it takes before that musical ditty get engrained in the brain of parents) is a family-friendly winner that beautifully compliments its film equivalent.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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