Time was that playing play movie tie-in games was a depressing and thankless task. These generally downright awful games were cobbled together and sent out to capitalise on the latest blockbuster movie, but thankfully it’s a trend that has become much less common. One series in particular has helped buck that trend, consistently producing entertaining and faithful adaptations of movies to your gaming system of choice. I’m talking of course about the Lego games from Traveller’s Tales.
Since 2005’s Lego Star Wars, the series has taken in superheroes, Tolkien, dinosaurs and academics, and continued to be the top co-op choice for many families, my own included. Lego The Incredibles is the latest in over twenty iterations, but is it just more of the same or does it have anything new to offer?
Pixar fans will immediately be won over by the opening titles here as a Lego Pixar lamp crushes an omnidroid before winking at the screen, while the inclusion of the authentic soundtrack also ensures that the game feels like a part of the Incredibles universe. However, somewhat bizarrely, you’re whisked straight off to the action of the new film, and must finish the sequel before you get to play the original. While this approach may make sense in terms of topicality, it throws the narrative development straight out of the window.
It means that Jak-Jak has powers right from the start, the family lessons explored by the Parrs in the first film have already been learned, and scenes have teamwork bolted onto them to suit the needs of the game over character motivation and growth. Although there have been additions like this throughout the Lego games, here they lack the subtlety and nuance seen before.
The game also seems more concerned with pushing you through the levels, with you actively having to leave missions to explore the hub world. This main hub is somewhat bare and feels like a step down from some earlier games, especially when it’s combined with the removal of many environmental puzzles and collectable bricks being left just sitting around on buildings or underwater. This makes the obligatory search a little too simplistic, but should mean that younger children are less likely to get stuck.
Progressing through the levels is still great fun, with some interesting new powers and combinations to experiment with. The introduction of multibuild puzzles is also a great addition, breaking down build and reusing the blocks to solve different parts of a puzzle, though these are joined by the less successful family build mini-games. These involve collecting the requisite number of Incrediblocks and then activating a build location before a button mashing sequence comes up that requires all characters to fill a bar at once. Unless you have 4 players, you must switch between the characters to ensure that all bars are filled. I can see what they’re attempting to do for co-op players, but it would surely have been better to use QTEs.
The rewards for these family builds are guest characters from other Pixar titles, such as Finding Nemo or Toy Story. These are hugely welcome and help to provide some variety from The Incredibles’ roster of little known versions of DC and Marvel superheroes. The fanservice is strong here, as evidenced by a trophy called ‘Just Keep Swimming’ for finishing an underwater race as Dory.
Vehicle levels are also present, but do have issues with twitchy over-responsive controls. Fortunately (or not given your perspective) the need to replay levels enables you to collect any items that the controls prevent you from getting first time. As always, returning to earlier levels with new characters and powers opens up areas that you couldn’t access before. This traditional aspect, whilst familiar, is beginning to feel a little long in the tooth, as it means that you rush through the initial playthrough in the knowledge that you need to go back later.
The powers of the Parr family are well realised here and levels are designed in a way that will require you to use every character at your disposal. Elastigirl in particular is utilised to navigate gaps, move through vents and act as a trampoline for other characters. Even this, however, feels overly familiar, as Plastic Man and Mr Fantastic served similar functions in Lego Batman and Marvel Super Heroes respectively. A feeling of familiarity is my overriding response to the game, with the witty takes on traditional superheroes that characterise the films feeling like they’re retreading old ground.
The game looks pretty much as you’d expect, with bright colours, some great use of block constructions and cute, if not always successful, versions of the characters. I found Mr Incredible slightly off, although I haven’t seen the new film yet due to a delay in release for the UK so maybe that will explain that one. The tried and tested Lego engine is still going strong, although the occasional hiccup and pop-in is present on PS4.
Perhaps the most successful new addition to Lego The Incredibles is the Crime Wave missions. These require you to clear areas of specific crimes in order to unlock the map fully. This take on the open world formula fits in well, but the actual missions do tend to fall on the simplistic side. At times, playing this felt like an easy mode mix of Lego City and the main Lego tie-in games. Again, this makes it perfect for younger players but a little underwhelming for us oldies.
All in all, Lego The Incredibles is another fun and enjoyable entry in the well-established series, but it does seem to have been simplified to be even more accessible for younger players. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself but given the already easy nature of Lego games, this one feels like an introduction to the series. The main levels are great, the world hub is fine but feels a little sparse, and the introduction of Pixar characters from other titles is a nice touch, but it’s all starting to feel a bit too samey and many of the small additions do little to change the gameplay. Lego The Incredibles is a great kids game, but it doesn’t really reach the heights of many of its predecessors. Not quite incredible, then, but still pretty good.
Version tested: PS4
Also available on Xbox One, PC, and Switch