Tag Archives: Lego

Lego Alpha Team (PC & Game Boy Colour)

Developer(s) – Digital Domain & Climax Studios

Publisher(s) – Lego Media

Released at the turn of the century and going through several different name changes, as the game was in fact released before the toy line, Lego Alpha Team is a puzzle-oriented title with somewhat of an RPG element with players having to strategize in accordance with which different characters and abilities have to be used in order to traverse specific obstacles. Though it would probably seem horribly dated to many gamers these days, since it’s certainly not without its flaws, to me, it’s another one of those games that I’d spent a lot of time playing when I was a kid and came back to it recently thinking that it wouldn’t have aged well, when in actual fact, it still remains an immersive and challenging gaming experience. 

Graphics – 7.5/10

Developed using the NetImmerse engine, which would later operate as Gamebryo and go on to be the basis of some of the biggest games of seventh generation, Lego Alpha Team on a technical level was typical of early sixth generation titles; smoother edges and sharper images compared to the graphical quality of PlayStation 1 and Nintendo 64 games. But what makes this game stand out most out of anything is in the environmental design. Each stage of the game is very well put together, presenting players with a great deal of variety for a game that lasts little more than 4 hours. The game’s soundtrack is also wonderfully varied to suit each stage of the game, retaining a somewhat James Bond feel to it with heavy bass and Vic Flick style guitar solos. 

Gameplay – 8.5/10

The variety in gameplay is unprecedented to a degree that surprised me when I first started playing it. The player must traverse through challenging obstacles throughout by gaining new abilities and characters, while also contending with periodical new objects to place around each course in order to progress. I’d played Lego games prior to this, including Lego Racers and Lego Chess, but to me, this game stood out and still stands out as the best of the earlier games in the series. Sometimes a game may come along with a specific license attached to it that prior to playing, a player may not have any sentimental attachment to; but after playing, it becomes a different story. Lego Alpha Team to me, back in the day, was a shining example of that. 

Controls – 9/10

The one minor gripe I had with the game’s controls is that at times, it can be somewhat difficult to adjust the camera angles whilst playing and it does come across as a nuisance at times, since the game relies heavily on players being able to adjust the camera angles in order to observe every square inch of each course. But it’s a small complaint I have that doesn’t make the game unplayable by any stretch of the imagination. Besides which, the control scheme of the game is unique as I’ve seldom seen many other games that use a similar gameplay system. 

Lifespan – 4/10 

The biggest criticism that I have about this game, however, is that it could be made to last far longer than what it does. On average, players can be expected to make the game last there around 4 hours and for a game with this much variety, it’s a shame that it turned out to be as fleeting an experience as it is. It was most definitely worth a sequel and to me, it’s a surprise that one wasn’t developed since the Lego Alpha Team brand went to become relatively popular, spawning 36 Lego sets over a period of 4 years. 

Storyline – 5/10

The game follows the story of Dash, the leader of the Alpha Team, as he attempts to rescue the other team members from the series’ main antagonist Ogel, who must be stopped having also found a way of zombifying people into doing his bidding. The story of the game was pretty much something in the background to give players that little more emotional stock. It wasn’t exactly re-inventing the wheel, but it wasn’t terrible either. The dialogue throughout the game  is passable as well, which was somewhat a breath of fresh air at the time, since many games of the fifth generation had some pretty abysmal voice acting. 

Originality – 8/10

The game was made to stand out most in terms of both it’s conceptual design as well as it’s unique brand of gameplay. It surprised me at the time, and in truth, it still surprises me to this day that not many other developers since have since either tried to copy the formula or even modify it in any way, shape or form; similar to games like Dark Cloud or Okami. Whilst not being on par in terms of quality with either of the two aforementioned titles, it had and still has a level of uniqueness that makes it an impressive game in and of itself. 

Happii

In summation, Lego Alpha Team is an obscure gem of a game, which I would highly recommend. It’s cheap, immersive, unique and still looks and plays as good as it ever did.

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

Lego City Undercover (Wii U)

Developer(s) – TT Fusion, Nintendo SPD & Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Designer – Lee Barber

Producer – Loz Doyle

PEGI – 7

Having wanted to develop a video game based on the Lego City toy line for quite some time, Traveller’s Tales agreed to work with Nintendo to bring Lego City Undercover exclusively to Wii U. Combining the familiar formula of most other Lego-themed video games with elements of the Grand Theft Auto series, it was met with positive reviews from critics, and it presented players with a moderately new twist on what they had been very much accustomed to from Lego games at that time.

Graphics – 8/10

To me, this game is a great example of how Lego in general can capture the imaginations of the people who either play with Lego (as I did when I was a kid), as opposed to many of the other Lego games, which were based largely on pre-existing intellectual properties, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. With Undercover, there are quite a few sly cultural references, and even some references to certain Nintendo games, but for the most part, the player can get a sense that very little can be off-limits in terms of conceptual design.

Gameplay – 9/10

Aside from the game looking great, it plays out great too. Outside the main story, there exist a multitude of different side quests to complete throughout a massive open world environment unparalleled with any of the more linear worlds found in most other Lego games. The amount of customization and variety on offer is also extremely impressive, since a wide range of abilities is needed to complete everything that can be completed. In lieu of Lego game tradition, replay value is also on offer, since players will also have to back to story missions with newly gained abilities to collect things they will have inevitably missed the first time round.

Controls – 10/10

Like in every other Lego game, the control scheme is also extremely simplistic, and easy to get to grips with. The use of the Wii U GamePad also offers a fairly unique twist on how open world games are normally played. For example, there exist side mission, whereby the player must use the GamePad to scan the TV in order to find criminal suspects before making an arrest. It is also used as a glorified Head-Up Display, containing a map and icons indicating where side quests are located.

Lifespan – 10/10

Since there is a ton of things to do in this game, it can easily be made to last up to 100 hours, which certainly makes it the longest Lego game ever developed. There’s a lot of open-world space in the game, and a lot of great use of it. The story mode will take the better part of 10 hours alone, but after that, the game will have only just begun.

Storyline – 6/10

The biggest drawback to this game is that the story isn’t particularly engaging in my opinion. It involves a police detective called Chase McCain, who is on a mission to capture a notorious criminal called Rex Fury. Other than the basic premise, there’s not that much present in terms of story. The only things that save it from being irredeemable is that there is a fairly strong comedic element, with cultural references all over the place, and a few clever little in jokes to accompany them.

Originality – 6/10

Though it is possible to differentiate this game from every other Lego game, since there were a few new features introduced, it doesn’t stand out against many other video games out there to any certain extent. The Grand Theft Auto element of it makes this even more obvious. I would describe it best as being evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, since it made innovation, but only in it’s own circle, and brought little new to the industry overall.

Happii

Happii

In Summation, despite Lego City Undercover playing out very familiarly compared to many other games, it is a very enjoyable experience, and worth every hour of playing. It’s another game that, to me, gives testament to how the Wii U is a better console than commercial figures show.

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)