IGN Review of LEGO: Battles
LEGO sets, and I mean the real sets, not the ones based on Harry Potter, have always been about epic battles. Knights, space men, pirates, underwater treasure hunters, ninja, and pretty much anyone else that would want to kill something has had a LEGO set at some point. And now the battles are available on the Nintendo DS, instead of just your imagination. LEGO Battles is more of a "my first real time strategy" game but is charming and fairly technically impressive.
LEGO Battles put the player in command of various minifigs from the Castle, Pirates and Space sets. Longtime LEGO fans will recognize some of these classic sets from the past couple decades. The game has over 70 levels of story mode, complete with humorous little video cutscenes. It keeps the style and charm that LEGO games are known for, but loses the movie licenses in favor of a purer experience.
Any RTS fans that were hoping for a challenging portable strategy game are out of luck. LEGO Battles is really easy. It's actually one of the banes of the LEGO franchise: they seem to be made for kids, when the fact is everybody loves LEGO. For a beginner's course in real time strategy though, LEGO Battles isn't a bad choice. The six story modes are lengthy, though they tend to get repetitive. The mode eases players into the different units and various buildings and their functions, which is nice if you've never played an RTS before. Even after going through all the unit types and strategies for battles, most of it seems unnecessary. When it comes down to it though, the most effective strategy in the game is "make a bunch of guys."
For the most part the touch screen controls work well, though when numerous buildings and people are on screen selecting a single unit becomes tricky. The AI also needs babysitting, which gets really annoying. Sending troops out over a sizable distance will often result in them getting stuck somewhere and not being about to figure out how to navigate. Likewise the workers will sometimes just stop working and have to be told to keep gathering lumber.
Different armies have their areas of expertise, and the story modes reflect this, but where it gets fun is when players get to mix and match the armies for the free play or multiplayer. Players can choose their heroes, infantry, vehicles and other things from any of the unlocked sets, having anywhere from five to 25 options available.
While the free play is also pretty easy, and unfortunately doesn't have a difficulty adjuster, the multiplayer can be as challenging as your opponent's skill makes it. And it actually works extremely well. If you're like me, the multiplayer is the highlight of any RTS, and for a DS game LEGO Battles does a pretty good job. There are some unfortunate caps on troop numbers, and the maps aren't big, but the mode works great, with very minimal slowdown even with two dozen characters fighting each other all at once on screen.
©2009-06-19, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved