LEGO Battles (Nintendo DS) Review: Strategic Block Busting in Real Time
Lego sets – the authentic ones (not the ones you’ve seen on the Harry Potter movie) – are all about epic battles. Just about everyone who has an ax to grind with something or someone – space men, knights, pirates, ninja, treasure hunters – has had a LEGO set at one point or another. Here’s the good news for the avid fans: besides your imagination, you can now have (and hopefully, win) all those battles on the Nintendo DS. Although it has an undertone of “my-first-real-time-strategy” to it, the game is truly appealing and relatively impressive from a technical view point.
LEGO fans who’ve been in the know for a long time can easily distinguish some of the classic sets, such as the Space, Castle and Pirates pieces from a couple decades or so ago. LEGO Battles now makes it possible for the player to be in control of these various mini figures in a game that has a story mode of over 70 levels. The video cutscenes thankfully retain the humor charm and style that LEGO has been famous for.
Unfortunately, RTS fans who are expecting more challenging strategies aren’t so lucky, as LEGO Battles are really a piece of cake. The sad thing about LEGO franchise is it seems to just cater to kids, not realizing that everybody just loves LEGO! Still, LEGO Battles isn’t such a bad choice for neophytes in real time strategy. Although the six story modes are inclined to get repetitive, they are quite lengthy and maneuver the players smoothly into various units and buildings, showing each function as you go along. These are nice and helpful if you’ve never had any experience with an RTS in the past.
On the technical side, the touch screen controls seem to work well. At some point though, picking a single unit gets to be a little tricky, especially when a number of people and buildings appear on screen. The AI gets pretty irksome as they often get stuck somewhere when you send troops out over an extensive distance. You think you have better things to do winning a battle than babysit an AI that can’t figure out how to find its way! The workers are equally annoying as they simply just cease working and have to be prodded to continue gathering lumber.
The story modes reflect varied areas of expertise of different armies; and this is where the most fun part is; when you can actually mix and match diverse armies in the free play or multiplayer. Players get to choose their own heroes, vehicles, infantry and other paraphernalia from any of the unlocked sets, with available options that range from 5 to 25 selections.
The multiplayer is actually the highlight and best part of any RTS, and LEGO Battles, for all its shortcomings, has at least done an extremely good job at this, making the game as challenging as you opponent’s skills makes it. Be warned though, there are some snags in the caps on troop numbers and the maps aren’t that big. But all in all the mode works great, with just a very minimal slowdown and looks pretty impressive with two dozen characters fighting each other on screen, all at one time.
If the well known LEGO charm and humor are enough reasons for you to play the game, then you won’t be disappointed as there’s plenty of that in LEGO Battles. However, if you’re looking for more challenges, then this game probably would just bore you. It’s just too much of a “cakewalk”, which is such a shame as the multiplayer really is pure, solid fun and has lots of potentials. It could have been an excellent game to recommend to everyone. As it is… it’s really your take!