With over twenty titles across all sorts of home and portable consoles over the last fourteen years, it’s fair to say Travellers Tales has got the LEGO formula pretty much down by now. You don’t exactly go into one of these games expecting groundbreaking innovation anymore because as they say, “don’t fix what ain’t broke,” right? So on that note, LEGO Incredibles picks up that same time-tested structure and spins a fun little Disney twist on it. The house of mouse already gave us Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars among others, but LEGO Incredibles is their first proper animated outing and a Pixar one too, so surely it was going to be good.
Normally I’d be quite excited to jump into a new LEGO game because they’ve always been fun to play even though I’m probably not quite the target demographic. This time, however, I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I had been with other titles. Maybe I’ve just been so spoiled with LEGO Worlds and the freedom that game gives me that something like LEGO Incredibles just can’t measure up anymore, or maybe it’s just the Incredibles themselves. Possibly a controversial opinion, but although I liked the first movie when I saw it, and yeah it’s cool we got a sequel after fourteen bloody years, it was never something I was frequently revisiting. That being said, TT always finds a way to wring a little extra humour and silliness out of anything they work on, so sometimes it’s worth checking them out on that basis alone.
“So we saved the day and only ruined three quarters of the city. I’d say that’s a job well done!”
In a weird move, LEGO Incredibles starts you off at the battle with the Underminer from the very last few seconds of the first movie, then progresses into the new film in subsequent levels. Its only after playing through all of these that you retroactively unlock the first film and play through levels based around it. Naturally, this is to capitalise on the hype surrounding the recent release of the second Incredibles movie. I wouldn’t have minded a sort of lobby kind of thing, similar to how the Tatooine cantina or Dex’s Diner from the Star Wars games did it, but oh well. I guess there is some merit to doing it backwards, as, for a lot of young kids this year, the second film will be their first introduction to this world so the game can work that way too.
After smashing up the Underminer’s digger, we dig into the story side of things and, for those who have seen both films (don’t worry, no spoilers), most of the narrative is intact all the way through. There are only minor changes here and there to accommodate a second player character and make every level co-op friendly, while other changes aim to tweak the body count a bit (the first movie had quite a few villain and cape-related deaths) to make it more kid-friendly. The sight gags and minifig humour of previous games makes a happy return, and every character is animated quite well, showing off their particular abilities or just having some sort of quirk. What I found most peculiar, though, is that almost all of the voice cast are absent from this game. Of the whole incredible family, we only got Violet from the films. Whether this was a money thing or just availability, I don’t know, but it’s super distracting hearing some of these fill-ins alongside the actual cast. Most of them offer relatively decent impressions, but a few, like whoever is voicing Frozone, entirely take me out of the world.
“And you will know my name is the lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!”
Moving on to the world of LEGO Incredibles, we see the now familiar expansive hub world typical of recent TT LEGO games. Featuring two large cities packed with a bevy of side quests, races, collectables and all sorts of other filler to hammer out between story missions, there’s definitely enough to keep someone busy for a while. One of these things is the crime waves that strike the various districts of the cities. Battling through waves of themed goons at multiple locations will progress you up to the crime boss of that area, who you must defeat to end the crime wave. They’re certainly a lot more entertaining than just go here, whack this, collect that, though when all is said and done, they can be a tad repetitive. That pretty much sums up the combat as well, now that I think of it. There are some fun combo bonuses and frantic button mashing to trigger super attacks, but most engagements can be handled rather quickly and don’t present much difficulty.
Visually, everything is on Parr (sorry, not sorry) with the films, at least in mimicking the nineteen fifties-ish American sort of aesthetic to everything, though I feel it falls short compared to previous LEGO games. The gorgeous detail we’ve seen on say the rain-soaked Flying Dutchman, the lush jungles of Isla Nublar or the destruction in the Battle of New York are sadly lacking here, with everything getting a weird almost glossy sheen, ending up looking quite flat. If anything, the world looks more like LEGO here than it ever has before.
“Wow, when you said you were flexible, I thought you were just flirting…”
In keeping with previous titles once again, LEGO Incredibles features a pretty massive roster of unlockable characters, but that is to be expected now. The vast majority of these characters are literally one-time mentioned supers from the first film, various types of goons and costume swaps for the leading family. In addition to them, Disney and Pixar stuck in more than a few cameo characters from other movies, like Woody from Toy Story, Sulley from Monsters Inc. and even their own happy bouncing logo lamp, Luxo Jr. They’re nice additions, but after goofing around with a few of them, I didn’t really use them anymore. One thing I did like is that other references extend beyond just characters, featuring sight gags or blink-and-you-miss-it stuff in the world, such as products from Buy’N’Large, birds squawking “mine?”, Carl’s floating house and, even though I haven’t spotted it yet, I have no doubt the Pizza Planet truck is around here somewhere. They’re nice touches to the world, and I appreciate that someone thought it was a good idea to add all these callbacks, just like they do in the movies.
So after everything is said and done, where does that leave us with the game? I played it start to finish, completing the game and all the trophies in a surprisingly short amount of time and now that it’s all over, I can’t really say the game stuck with me in any lasting way. This is disappointing because I still fondly recall a lot of the previous LEGO titles. Perhaps it was due to being related to a movie series that is loved by a lot of people, but this one just felt like it was playing it safe. Another thing that works against it is that as there has been such a steady stream of LEGO superhero games before this one, it’s tough to make us care about the Incredibles when we can just go on a romp with the Avengers or the Justice League or even the DC villains game coming soon. Without anything to make it stand out, LEGO Incredibles misses its mark of being super and just comes across as a quick tie-in.
“This is why you shouldn’t give kids a lot of sugar.”
LEGO games have definitely hit their stride in the last few years, cranking out some stellar licenced titles like Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings and so on, not to mention the brilliant LEGO Worlds. Based on that, you’d think an Incredibles game would do well, but unfortunately, it fails to really define itself as anything more than a simple video game tie-in, especially when the LEGO Marvel or DC games have already filled the superhero spot many times before, getting better with each entry. It feels like TT weren’t really allowed to go as off-book with this title as they have done in the past and the result is a game a bit more average than incredible. You can play it solo or with your kids for a quick bit of fun, but watching both movies back to back will probably be more enjoyable.