This month marks the five-year anniversary of GamesRadar, and to celebrate, we’re bringing back some of our favorite features from the past. The following originally posted in September 2008, before we’d seen the Legofication of Rock Band, Pirates of the Caribbean and (in an action game, at least) Harry Potter – and it’s still relevant, because Lego and Traveller’s Tales still haven’t picked up on a single one of our ideas. So here goes another round of pleading, this time with bigger pictures.
Nobody really expected Lego Star Wars to be as good as it was, or to sell as well as it did, when the game dropped in 2005 - but developer Traveller's Tales surprised us all by turning what should have been the ultimate crappy licensed game into a fun, well-designed runaway hit. Since then, the Lego-game dynasty has grown to include Indiana Jones and Batman, both based on existing Lego toy lines, and both fun despite being essentially the same game.
However, Lego's fast running out of marketable licenses. And with its increasingly same-y action-platformers in danger of eventually falling victim to diminishing returns, it's time for the Lego brand to defy convention, tap its true potential and branch out in bold new directions. (Unless, that is, you really want to see a Lego Speed Racer game. Based on the 2008 movie. Yeah, that's what we thought.)
We're talking, of course, about adapting other awesome licenses. Here's what we suggest:
The Lord of the Rings
Of all the film franchises that Lego doesn't currently hold a license for, this is probably the biggest no-brainer for Lego conversion. It's a trilogy (Traveller's Tales seems to like three-part stories), it's insanely popular among gamers and it's filled with memorable locations and cool action set-pieces that could easily translate into a great, hacky-slashy platformer.
Taking control of Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Frodo, Gandalf, Pippin, Boromir, Merry, Sam or whoever else the current level demanded, you could hop, shoot and slash your way through the entire trilogy, from the first journey out of the Shire to the siege of Mordor. As unlikely as it sounds. a Lego take on the story could be its most complete, in-depth game adaptation to date - or at least a hell of a lot better than the 2003 Return of the King game.
The Lego angle: Simple-looking characters and current-gen processing power mean that battles like Helm's Deep and Pelennor Fields might finally approach the grand scale seen in the movies. And the series' diverse cast of heroes and distinct villains is big enough to fill out Free Play squads that could dwarf anything seen in Lego Star Wars.
Also, Legolas' name would take on added significance. We're just saying.
Grand Theft Auto
Whether it's a brick-by-brick adaptation of the games or just a straight up Grand Theft Auto: Legoland, this makes so much sense it's almost inevitable. Yeah, yeah - corrupting cute things with adult things is always funny, and vice versa. But that's far from the only reason this should happen. Over the years, the Lego brand has come to represent near-limitless creativity and freedom; so, in its way, has GTA. Combine the two, and you end up with a hyperviolent, unabashedly silly romp through an open world that could theoretically be unmade and remade in any way players saw fit.
2002's long-forgotten Island Xtreme Stunts went halfway there, by creating a Lego sandbox game filled with vehicles to drive. Now it's time to go all the way.
The Lego angle: OK, so a freely transformable Lego city is probably an unrealistic goal, but that doesn't mean the shift to Legos couldn't bring some unique twists to the gameplay. For example, why settle for just stealing cars when you could build your own out of conspicuous piles of bricks? Also, if the cars, buildings and even people you destroy can simply be picked up and snapped back together, you're not actually doing anything that horrible. An E10+ rating is virtually assured.
The Matrix isn t just a movie trilogy - it's a movie trilogy that's never gotten a quality videogame adaptation, despite clearly being perfect for one. A Lego take on the series could change that, and the Matrix movies have all the right elements: a big cast of heroes with complementary talents, just as many memorable baddies and a ton of stylish action sequences that focus on hand-to-hand combat.
Above: Not exactly hand-to-hand combat
Ideally, you'd play as Neo for much of the game, with his god-like Matrix powers being key to solving most of the game's puzzles. Tag-team partners like Morpheus, Trinity, Niobe and Ghost would fill out the rest of the roster, and the addition of bullet time and balletic, slow-motion gunplay would make this unlike any Lego game to come before. Also, all of the nagging guilt that comes whenever the good guys blow away cops would be dulled considerably, because said cops would just be plastic toys.
Above: YES MAKE THIS NOW ALREADY
The Lego angle: Seeing as the Matrix is an artificial world, it s not a huge leap to imagine it being made completely out of Legos, which - assuming Neo retained his special Matrix-altering abilities - could be freely manipulated in whatever way a situation demanded. Also, we're going to repeat what we said above about simpler characters and beefier processing power, because that could make the Agent Smith fights from the last two movies a whole hell of a lot more interesting than they were in Path of Neo.
This dark tale of runaway experimentation in an underwater city would be a perfect candidate for the first-ever Lego FPS. Not only is its retro-future city of Rapture driven by a spirit of unrestrained freedom (making it an excellent philosophical match for the Lego brand), but the experimentation and creative problem-solving that Bioshock encourages could get a whole hell of a lot more creative with Legos at your disposal. Imagine the traps you could devise with an inventory full of the right bricks and moving parts - LittleBigPlanet couldn't hope to step to this.
Also, we're really curious to see what the Splicers - Rapture residents who've disfigured themselves through rampant genetic tampering - would look like as little Lego people. Probably kinda freaky.
The Lego angle: Did you like upgrading your guns using pre-set kits? How about if you could just slap together a random assortment of Legos you found scattered throughout the world, each with different properties that could create completely different kinds of weaponry? What could the Plasmid superpowers be like if you could augment them by just slapping together some bricks and green studs? There's a potential for depth here that goes way beyond anything seen in the original Bioshock; someone just has to be willing to tap it.
Another trilogy long overdue for a quality game adaptation, Terminator's potent blend of a geek-friendly storyline and high-octane, ripe-for-parody action-stupidity make it a perfect candidate for Legofication. Like in Lego Indiana Jones, you'd play as the title character in almost every scene (except for the adaptation of the first movie, in which you'd flee from Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator while playing as a Kyle Reese/Sarah Connor tag team). Meanwhile, characters like John and Sarah Connor could tag along as puzzle-solving backup, making two-player co-op a balancing act between brains and brawn.
Of course, the game wouldn't have to be totally slavish in its adaptation; extended sequences in the skull-filled, Skynet-dominated future would add a lot to the action, and the game could win a few bonus points from fans by throwing in Cameron Phillips from The Sarah Connor Chronicles as an unlockable character. Also, at least one naked-Lego-Terminator fight scene against a bar full of bikers is a definite must.
The Lego angle: In the scorched-earth future segments, it d be awesome to be able to rebuild and reprogram your own Terminators or T-1 Hunter-Killers, which would then follow you around and wreak havoc on your behalf. Also, unlocking the T-1000 for Free Play would likely make things a breeze, as he could presumably turn into every other character and duplicate their abilities while totally stabbing everyone in the face.