Video games based on the mega-popular Lego building toys we all loved as a kid — I still adore ’em — have followed a familiar formula for more than a decade. Players control charming minifigs while navigating worlds, bashing bad guys and and collecting gold bricks.
That core gameplay system remains intact in “Lego Worlds,” but also represents a big change. At last, the freedom to create as you please has arrived on a Lego console game, and comparisons to the venerable free-build hit “Minecraft” are inevitable. But “Worlds” also bears similarities to to last year’s divisive, planet-hopping “No Man’s Sky.”
Through it all, “Lego Worlds” sits somewhere in between the two in terms of overall quality. The game casts players as a lone space farer who seeks to power his ship with gold bricks in order to hop to more worlds. If that doesn’t sound eerily similar to “No Man’s Sky,” what does?
And like “Sky,” the newest Lego entry can be a repetitive experience after the first hour or so of well-executed tutorial levels. Most gold bricks are earned by completing fetch quests for NPCs in the randomly-generated Biomes your space traveler will visit. They’re often simple but occasionally a chore, such as the time I couldn’t re-find the red apple tree for a horse.
The real issue is how long it takes to get to what’s likely to hook most players: free build. A whopping 100 gold bricks must be farmed to become a Master Builder and unlock the mode, and that’s going to be way too long for a lot of gamers. Through seven days, the Master Builder trophy has been achieved by 1% of PlayStation 4 gamers, according to PSN data.
Those who stick it out will be rewarded with a Lego creation suite that’s pretty good for a console experience, even if the menus can be a bit clunky. It’s easy to place prefabricated constructs — which can be scanned in the many Biomes along the way — or modify terrain. Gifted creators should be capable of making worlds that would fit right in with scenes from “The Lego Movie.” And, to be fair, all of the building tools will come into play throughout the story mode, so there’s plenty opportunities to practice.
If you can stomach the grind to Master Builder status and somewhat frustrating camera, “Lego Worlds” might just be the Lego creation suite gamers have long awaited.