Lego Brawls - Mediocre Master Building
The elevator pitch for Lego Brawls is undeniably a good one. Take all of the iconic Lego mini-figures, from Jurassic Park to Ninjago, and cram them into a multiplayer brawler ala Super Smash Bros. Throw in some crazy Lego customisation and humour and you have yourself a winner right? I mean it should be any easy home run. Sadly, somewhere along the way, Lego Brawls lost its way and instead of a cracking little party title we have something that barely passes muster.
Let’s start with the good stuff. The first is the customisation tools. Being a Lego game, it is fair to expect a good suite of options as far as creating your own character is concerned; that is precisely what you get. You can mix and match different Lego sets, weapons and themes to your heart’s content. Wrap that in with the staggering amount of unlocks in-game and you have yourself a mighty powerful and fun bit of customisation. It is easily the strongest part of the game and I just wish that there was more to it than cosmetics. The development team missed a real trick by not letting players customise playstyles and skill sets through this system, it would have gone a long way to solving some of the title’s biggest problems.
Speaking of problems, I suppose we should get to them shouldn’t we? The most glaring problem that Lego Brawls suffers from is there is simply not enough variety in the game or gameplay. There is one attack button, with only one directional button-mashing attacks and the chance to use pickups that are littered around the map. There is a dash ability, a jump and not much more as far as combat tools at your disposal. It is simple beyond catering to everyone, it has moved into boring territory. Couple this with only five different game modes, all variations of things we have played before and the game really struggles to get a hold on you, giving you little reason beyond unlocking the next Lego piece to play on.
Now I am not usually a trophy hunter type of player, but I had to make a note here because it seemed so out of the ordinary. I had completed 10/12 trophies on offer within 2 hours of gameplay. Now call me crazy but that seems a tad worrisome. My worries bore out because after two hours I had clearly seen everything this game had to offer. The entire game is built around multiplayer, with no singleplayer component at all. So battles with randoms on the internet are the order of the day, with (laughably bad) AI filling in any vacant slots should not enough players be found. The netcode works well though and I never had a bad connection or lag issues, so that is something.
On the local multiplayer front, things are disappointing, to say the least. I roped my 13-year-old Smash/Brawlhalla/MultiVersus playing son to play some couch combat and after three matches his only response was “Is this it?” You see in local multiplayer you are limited to only one match type, free for all, which you can play with just the folks in the room holding controllers, which is as exciting as watching paint dry, or you can fill in the extra slots (up to 8) with AI players and beat them all easily before it reverts to just the real people playing. This could have been the area where Lego Brawls redeemed itself but sadly it is just as mediocre as the rest of the game.
To be fair, there could be some fun here for very young players. The (overly) simple control system means that if a child is old enough to hold a controller, they are probably old enough to play this game. Sadly though, this won’t save the kiddos when the game breaks and crashes. I had multiple instances of getting stuck in the environment and being forced to wait for the round to end, as well as the game outright locking up and crashing. It isn’t the worst game I have played in this regard, but it is hardly the best either.
Finally I want to talk about the balance of the game. Some of the powerups are literally screen clearing, meaning that even if you have been winning with skill and style you could simply be wiped out by the luck of the draw. It is more annoying than the blue shell in Mario Kart and it happens all the time. If there is one thing that gets my goat it is unfair RNG in a game that causes a loss. There needs to be some serious balancing of quite a few of these random pickups for the game to be considered polished.
I really wanted to like Lego Brawls, it is such a cool idea. Sadly the fact is, it is just a bad game. Not bad in an overly broken or offensive way. Bad because it seems to delight in mediocrity. Everything feels half-baked and half-realised, kind of like my 16-year-old’s homework, and it means it quickly squandered any potential in the idea of a Lego Smash Bros. This is a game that should only be considered by those with the biggest of crushes on the little plastic bricks or those with little ones wanting a game they can play with them. Anyone else will find little to keep them entertained outside of the simple joy of creating Lego mini figures. Lego Brawls is nothing but a wasted concept, a concept I hope they revisit in the future with much more exciting results.
Lego Brawls was reviewed on the PS5 with code kindly supplied by Bandai Namco Australia