The licensed LEGO games have covered plenty of cinematic ground - especially if you include the now defunct LEGO Dimensions line - and at this point they’ve become a bit of a video game institution. While you’d think the well would’ve run dry over the last decade or so, the arrival of LEGO The Incredibles, to coincide with the release of the latest Pixar film, shows that no kid-friendly movie franchise is safe, and that this sort of LEGO title could conceivably be around for many years to come.
This game takes you on a journey through the events of both The Incredibles films, though it strangely starts with the second film rather than the first. You can play through the entire story - as well as explore its modest open world - both in solo and offline co-op.
One thing worth noting is that the story missions are spoiler heavy, so if you have any interest in seeing the second film, you’re better off avoiding this title until you’ve made your trip to the local multiplex. That’s not to say the ride is completely predictable, as there are plenty of spins given to familiar scenes from the first film - through the ample application of creative licence - in order to add an even stronger comedic twist, while removing some darker elements from the narrative.
While parts of the story will manage to surprise you occasionally, the gameplay at the heart of LEGO The Incredibles won’t at all, and if you’ve spent any time with some of the other LEGO games it’ll be immediately familiar. Basically, there’s combat, platforming, and some light puzzle solving, all linked together by you hoovering up oodles and oodles of LEGO studs and collectibles.
Despite this tried and tested gameplay being wheeled out for the umpteenth occasion, it still manages to be quite fun at times. There’s something consistently satisfying about smashing up all the scenery in a level, and hearing that satisfying clicking sound as your character collects up the studs that have spilled all over the floor. It’s the same feeling you’d likely get when hitting the jackpot on a one armed bandit, and you’ll find yourself spending way too much time in story missions picking up studs and hunting out any collectibles.
The collectibles and secrets also spill over into the open world as well, with numerous characters to unlock, races to speed through, and hidden areas to uncover. With so much of the open world devoted to hiding collectibles, you’ll be surprised to find the best part of the free-roam area turns out to be the ‘crime waves’. These temporary events offer linked side missions that are bookended by amusing news channel segments, which help make them feel much more interesting than the more traditional open world distractions -- even if the nuts and bolts of the gameplay remain largely the same.
While there’s certainly fun to still be had in both the story missions and open world, the all too familiar issues seen repeatedly in the LEGO games over the years also make an unwelcome return. The controls once again manage to be annoyingly unresponsive in the on-foot sections, while being far too twitchy whenever you’re in a vehicle, making neither type of gameplay feel great to interact with. On top of this, the puzzles and overall gameplay can get repetitive, with only a few story sections - such as a few chase sequences and boss battles - breaking up the monotonous loop of using a narrow number of character abilities to get past the various barriers in your way.
With so much about the inner workings of this title being a known quantity, it’s the strength of The Incredibles licence that ultimately ends up being a big decider as to where it sits in the pantheon of LEGO games. With only two films to draw from, it looks like it might have been a stretch to fill the game out, and this becomes most apparent in the character roster. It feels like it has a much higher ratio of peripheral characters than in some of the previous LEGO games, and in order to add some much needed name recognition to the mix, a number of unrelated Pixar characters had to be drafted in for support.
On a positive note, the LEGO version of The Incredibles world evokes the source material really well, with a soundtrack that is either filled with the exact same tracks as the films, or close enough approximations that this tone deaf reviewer couldn’t tell the difference. The voice acting, however, turns out to be less consistent, with some characters being handled by sound-alikes that, while close to the originals, end up feeling distractingly different. The biggest offender on this front is Mr Incredible himself, who at times drifts deep into Homer Simpson territory, leaving no question that Craig T. Nelson wasn’t on voice duties.
With the ups and downs of the many licensed LEGO titles having been well documented by now, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting with LEGO The Incredibles. Even knowing full well you’ll be contending with dodgy controls, and occasionally repetitive gameplay, you’ll somehow find yourself propelled through the story by an overwhelming compulsion to pick up literally millions of studs along the way. Even stretching The Incredibles source material close to breaking point doesn’t put too much of a dampener on your time with the Parr family, and while it doesn’t come close the best the LEGO games have offered over the years, there’s just enough here to make you reach for your super suit.