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LEGO Brawls Review

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LEGO Brawls Review

Bare feet LEGO Brawler... 

Woof. Okay, this will most definitely be a shorter one than usual, just based on what content was put in this game. Honestly, I love the LEGO gaming series. It’s a franchise that surprised many as more intuitive and surprisingly fun than gimmicky. But LEGO Brawls falls into the latter, with some great ideas put into play, but unfortunate execution that just seems unpolished. The game itself doesn’t feel finished. From its barebones presentation, onto its limitations when in battle, it just never does itself justice. Small arenas that are boasted as big, when it’s deceptively tiny just made with careful construction and camera-play. Reminding myself that the initial launch of this game was in 2019, for mobile devices such as iPad, I tried to be a little forgiving on what limitations developers had. But to re-release the title for home console and expect a quality-of-life appeal to extend across is presumptuous given that we have family friendly brawlers on modern platforms that are free of charge, and boast a variety of content without any additional cost – Brawlhalla being a recent example of this.

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But lacking content and terrible gameplay physics hold this back tremendously and I don’t know if it was a case being lost in translation from tablet device to controller, or just having no desire to update or make improvements to a potential home console release, but LEGO Brawls misses the mark on what could have been a remarkable beat ’em up, showcasing the rich history of the LEGO gaming franchise. Instead it’s a confusing slog that boasts a large creation suite with little execution on the up take. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Nintendo must be chuffed with the amount of praise Super Smash Bros. gets from other developers when taking the idea of placing intellectual property and placing them into a friendly bout. LEGO Brawls tries its hand at the exact same formula, but can’t quite pull off the same aura. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes a mobile game can’t make it on bigger platforms when there’s a buffet of potential in other titles just laying waste.

Bashful…

SOLID POINTS

✔️ Broad creation suite. A massive range of customisation tools to create your fighter.

✔️ A large deal of Warner Bros. based licensed content.

❌ Gameplay is slow, and hard to manipulate with Poor AI making for clunky presentation.

❌ No Audible aesthetic or vocals to entertain.

❌ The camera angle is atrocious. You can’t see anything.

So, let’s talk about the positives before anything. Handing a great deal in personalisation tools for the title, LEGO Brawls brings us no shortage in creating our own cavalcade of characters. 70+ Billion – yes, that is correct and you didn’t read wrong – playable characters are available to portray and fight against. However, it mainly comes in form of having to create or build these fighters, like you would a LEGO building. Not everything is available from the get-go however as you will have to grind through multiple battles to continue unlocking more attire, weapons and other assorted items. To be honest, it’s more or less a trophy system that bottlenecks the game, begging players to continue grinding for more content. 

70 Billion fighters may be the actual figure, but it’s a pipe-dream that anyone would spend that long, wanting to play out its clunky, misguided mechanics to actually unlock its entire offering. Let’s be frank, everyone’s spoiled now by DLC, microtransactions and loot boxes that paywall content for faster access. I’m one for keeping content locked in a game that’s exciting and fresh to play, especially if it’s free to unlock as you progress but its ridiculous to expect even a younger audience to want to do that. On mobile devices? Sure. On home console? No. There’s a level of quality that’s expected on major platforms that aren’t met, and while the title isn’t a RRP ticket title, it’s still hard to justify the cost compared to the quantity, even if it’s 70 billion Ninjago suits on offer. 

So gameplay wise, the title offers a limited range of modes. It’s default boasts a barebones 4v4 mode, that relies heavily on its interactive environment to boost any appeal its actual gameplay lacks. One offensive attack button and moving around the map, while collecting specialities hidden in crates are the basics of what you will come to expect from LEGO Brawls. It’s not spectacular. All you’re doing is traversing from one side of an extended 4-screen map to the other, on a treasure trove to unlock more stuff. In the grand scheme, it’s an accessible button masher for the youngins, but its waning appeal will only last milliseconds before noticing such a monotonous, devolving retrospect on its demonstration. Matches themselves can last anywhere from seconds to minutes, ranging from the minimum of one to ten minutes long. The balancing in the game is non-existent, with some jabs lightly rocking a player while the same manoeuvre will send a fighter halfway through LEGO City and back.

Unapologetically enhanced by poor AI, I won a game by being distracted on a phone call without touching a button. I put the controller down and was on a call for a good 20 minutes and looked back up to my TV screen to see that I had won. How was that even possible? The CPU mindlessly dawdles around awaiting your character to be close enough before executing any defensive or offense. I had an entire fight where one of my opponents would simply run back and forth without actually actioning any offense, but would happily take my abuse. Hitboxes are terrible, with some punches hitting nothing but air and are quite nuisance when the opponent is able to cleanly attack your character without fail. An endurance mode pits you against a rumble of 15 other opponents, in gauntlet like fashion. Eight players are placed into the arena, and the first to eliminate 15 fighters wins the round. While that sounds enticing, the presentation of the title highlights its quandaries in droves here.

A poorly placed camera angle that zooms in and out at a constant rate will make you feel sea-sick within minutes, and when it’s zoomed out, you can barely see your fighter on screen; one because there’s so much happening that it overlays the characters themselves with flashy animations and other assorted environments and two, it’s panned out too wide to where your characters look like little yellow ants. I can’t begin to fathom how this looks or performs on a Nintendo Switch. Audio cues are almost non-existent in this game, with barely anything integral to discern what’s happening on screen. Stock standard, almost royalty-free sounding bites are spammed throughout the onset, with no voices or grunts to help the player read the rumble. It’s like walking into a crowd of millions, and yelling your friend’s name from one side of a sea of humanity. It can be anxiety inducing and completely infuriating.

Going in blind, I had high hopes. The LEGO label on gaming titles bears a bold reputation of quality assurance, that bodes well for gamers that have loved their library of the past. But LEGO Brawls is one to pass on. It’s an unfortunate circumstance where it may have been popular for kids on the iPad, and noticed their traction was on the uptick, but a game that costs $3.99 on a mobile device Vs. $79RRP AUD on home console is a little deceptive. I know the intention here was to put out something that a casual gamer would enjoy in mindlessly bashing out bouts while collecting an insane amount of customisable creations, but it would have been greater if there was time invested to make its “port” into a full fledged remaster for the premiere gaming platforms. If you’re looking for something in the LEGO Brand on home console, try out LEGO Batman; amazing title. But if you want to try this, I would advise pulling out the tablet and playing it there.

LEGO Brawls - Bandai Namco

AVAILABLE NOW ON:

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LEGO Brawls is a family-friendly fighting game developed and published by The Lego Group in partnership with American studio Red Games Co., and is being distributed in physical format for consoles by Bandai Namco Entertainment.

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Gameplay
4
Presentation
4
Sound
4
4

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