LEGO Battles Review for Nintendo DS

LEGO Battles Review for Nintendo DS

Build Your Strategy… With LEGOs!

Although I am a huge fan of the LEGO series of video games, I have to say that I was a little bit nervous about LEGO Battles. The movie-based LEGO games garnered most of their charm by referencing classic franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Could a non-movie based title still manage to be funny and engaging? Well fortunately, the answer is yes.

LEGO Battles screenshot

LEGO Battles is a huge real-time strategy game that spans six of the LEGO universes from the toy line. These universes include a medieval fantasy land, a space station, and even a pirate ship. Each universe has its own story mode, and while the stories generally involve something simple like defending the kingdom or finding parts of a treasure map, they each have very cute cinema scenes at the beginning of each level. These cinematics are very funny, and they are done in the style of the movie focused LEGO titles.

But enough about the story and the cutscenes, the real meat of this game lies in its RTS gameplay. The strategy in LEGO battles is not especially complex, though it is two-fold with combat and construction elements. You will start most levels with two units: a hero and a builder. You can move forward with just these units, but you probably won’t get very far.

In order to succeed, you will need to build a lumber mill, harvest resources, build farms, and eventually barracks for soldiers. The construction element actually reminded me of the building sim Kingdom for Keflings, which isn’t a bad thing. But, I have to say that I was very surprised the construction element was so prevalent in an RTS game.

LEGO Battles screenshot

Once you are finished fortifying your bases, you will then need to seek out and destroy your enemies. Although you will be given divergent goals like finding an item or power crystal, or destroying a certain base, the way in which you accomplish this goal is generally the same: gather up your troops and attack!

But like any true RTS, there are, of course, caveats to your success. Most missions will be led by a leader or hero, and keeping this singular unit alive will be vital to your success. In addition to this prime directive, you may need to keep your troops to a certain number or accrue a specific amount of bricks during gameplay. Although none of the success conditions are terribly backbreaking, they do add a nice third element to the game besides the construction and combat.

LEGO Battles screenshot

Of course, since this is a LEGO game, there are plenty of collectibles hidden throughout the levels. These collectibles appear as either blue studs or yellow treasure boxes, and gaining enough of these can help you unlock new characters modes and even purchase concept art and maps from the LEGO store. The collection element has always added a lot of replay value to other LEGO games, and LEGO Battles is no different in this regard.

Although the gameplay is fun and very solid, there were a few things that could have been done better. For instance, I enjoyed making very large bases and building up large amounts of troops for my missions. However, I was dismayed when I discovered that you are only allowed to take a total of nine troops out at a time, and any other units must be left behind or brought separately. Although this does make for a simpler game, as a longtime RTS fan, I couldn’t help but cry foul just a little bit.

LEGO Battles screenshot

Another thing that I found a little disappointing with LEGO battles was the A.I. While dragging groups of nine units, sometimes I would only see seven or eight individual units following, as some poor fellow had gotten stuck behind a tree or had gotten off course somehow. This is especially frustrating when I have built an extra-large force and have to manage all the lost characters from two or three troops of nine that I am attempting to move simultaneously.

Still, despite these few faults, I do think that LEGO Battle is a worthy RTS. Although it is not the most complex, I certainly had fun with it, and I found several excuses to come back to it. Although there are only six different story modes, you can also design your own LEGO Battle experience using the free play mode. This mode allows you to use any unlocked units on any unlocked map, and it even lets you set your own conditions and rules. There is also a multi-cart multiplayer that lets you form competitive strategies against local opponents.

Visuals and sound are both on par with previous LEGO games. The visual look of the game is quite sharp, and I was especially impressed with the animation quality of the cutscenes. In-game graphics are a little bit more basic, and they feature sprite units and pixel-based environments. Although the in-game visuals are not all that technically remarkable, I have to say that when I considered the size and scope of the levels, I was still impressed with the overall visual style in-game as well.

The sound scheme in the game is also very high quality. The cutesy LEGO voiceovers are still here and, though they are completely unintelligible, are still amazingly humorous. The level music is fun to listen to as well, and it varies nicely throughout the different themed levels.

Although I really liked LEGO Battles, it isn’t a game for everyone. If you are a hard-liner RTS fan who craves challenges like those found in PixelJunk Monsters or Final Fantasy Tactics, than you might find this title a little too simple. However, if you can appreciate the LEGO brand of humor, and you don’t mind a fairly forgiving RTS, then this game is a ton of fun and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The construction elements and simple strategy gameplay definitely don’t present the most ominous challenge, but they are fun and different enough to keep the gameplay interesting. Just don’t go to pieces if you fail a mission!

Opening animations look great and are almost on par with console cutscenes from other LEGO titles. In-game graphics are also very good. 3.9 Control
Controlling the LEGO troops is fairly easy, but navigating large maps is difficult with parties of more than nine. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is lighthearted and fun to listen to. LEGO-style voices and sound effects are super cute and entertaining. 3.8

Play Value
Although this is not a hardcore RTS by any stretch of the imagination, the cute LEGO storylines as well as the large maps and customizable free play options make this one lots of fun, and you may be surprised by how much you keep coming back.

4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • LEGO Battles features six distinct story lines and 90 different levels, focusing on the three main themes of LEGO Battles: LEGO Space, LEGO Castle and LEGO Pirates.
  • Players can build their own LEGO bases and battle teams by mixing and matching units to create the ultimate customized LEGO squad.
  • Test your strategies in single-player story or Free Play mode to unlock hidden treasures
  • Multiplayer mode allows players to pitch their customized army against friends on 30 different maps via wireless DS multi-card play.
  • Fight on land, sea and in the air using 30 different vehicles
  • With 55 playable characters and 30 vehicles, players will be able to assemble their favorite LEGO team to battle with.
  • Use the Hero unit to cast special attacks on the battlefield!

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