In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and LEGO video games. On every platform, seemingly since time immemorial, the good folks at TT Games have been taking those humble Danish toy bricks and turning them into a successful – if not particularly groundbreaking – series of titles. Of course, having access to all those blockbuster film licences probably didn't hurt either, and it's off the back of another – The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, to be precise – that we get the first family-friendly cinematic tie-in of the year.
Interestingly, The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame actually has more in common with one of the series' most ambitious and non-licensed games, 2017's LEGO Worlds. While this Minecraft clone never quite captured the imagination of the digital building crowd, it did embrace a creative suite of ideas the franchise had previously never dabbled in. The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame doesn't go 'full crafting', but it uses its large sandbox settings to its advantage by enabling you to scan objects with a pair of binoculars, which then saves a blueprint you can then rebuild on select platforms.
The LEGO games are very slowly following the path practically every other genre has been doing for years already, and are steadily adding in more RPG-inspired systems. As with LEGO The Incredibles and LEGO DC Super-Villains, each world you visit in the Systar and Rex-Plorer Systems has its own share of main and side missions and you can tackle these in whichever order you see fit. Now you'll need actively gather different coloured bricks in order to build each creation in the Builder Menu, in a similar fashion to the limited crafting options in LEGO The Hobbit. We've not reached XP and skill trees yet, but adding in an extra collectable currency does usher a little more agency into your open-ended adventures.
As you'd expect, The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame loosely follows the plot of the film, taking you from the Mad Max-aping wasteland of Apocalypseburg to the farthest reaches of the Systar system. You travel to each world via a special portal and the more Master Bricks you collect (this game’s version of the classic Red and Gold Bricks), the more portals you’ll unlock. It’s all very basic, but much of that is by design, since TT Games is clearly trying to make the series even more accessible to younger players.
Being able to travel to new worlds and start building your own mini-settlements and cities will have creatively-minded players really investing in the cycle of scanning new objects, collecting relics and gathering enough resources to build them. Those relics are another neat little feature; they come in rarities and are unlocked by completing missions and opening chests littered throughout the world. Each one has a randomised contents and you could unlock a new building blueprint, some accessories and even new minifigs. Much like the blind bags in LEGO The Incredibles, we can see these relics being a tasty carrot on a stick for long-term players.
This being a port of a full LEGO game (rather than one of those butchered versions you found on PS Vita), The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame on Nintendo Switch does suffer from some performance issues. The framerate has been capped at 30fps, it this rate usually holds true when you're playing in docked mode. However, it's hard to miss the graphical downgrades you've come to expect from a multiplatform port such as this when playing on a bigger screen. In handheld and tabletop mode those sacrifices aren't so obvious, but the framerate does start wobble, dropping to the mid-20s when you start building large structures or are engaged in large-scale boss battles.
However, it should be noted that the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game also suffered from performance issues, so this shouldn't be solely chalked up to the hardware inside Switch. The stop-motion movement of the LEGO Movie universe does actually help mask the issues with the framerate, but be prepared to deal with painfully long loading times every time to enter a new world. Thankfully, there's plenty to do on each world so the wait isn't as bad you might think, but they'll definitely become a problem later on when you're trying to hit that elusive 100% completion accolade and you need to hop between worlds on your galaxy map.
The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame isn't the groundbreaking reinvention the franchise so desperately needs, but it's still a step in the right direction. It's still got the same one-note combat (even with some Master Builder special attacks thrown in for good measure) and missions too often boil down to 'Go find enough resources to build this item, which opens this door, etc', but for all the times it falls into the pitfalls of its own past, there's plenty to appreciate. The focus on collecting resources makes total sense for a game all about breaking everything in sight, and the mixture of sandbox levels and creative building options is a timely reminder that LEGO Worlds has plenty of ideas still worth revisiting.