Review: LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey (PSV)

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Title: LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (936 MB)
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: TT Games
Original MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey is also available on Nintendo 3DS.
The PlayStation Vita card version was used for this review.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 328 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
The LEGO brand has seen a strong resurgence over the past decade or so mostly due to the licensing of big properties like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman and others, with many of these being turned into successful video games as well. Legends of Chima marks a new direction as LEGO is looking to create more of their own properties (and in turn keep more of the profits).

LEGO is going all in with the Chima line with over three dozen toy sets, four new video games and a show on the Cartoon Network. It’s an uphill battle on the Vita which tends to have an older demographic who probably snatched up most of the previous LEGO games based on the licenses alone. But if you aren’t tuned into the toy lines, you’ve probably never heard of Legends of Chima. Couple this with a series of shoddy ports of LEGO games to the Vita and you have a full on recipe for disaster. With all that being said, let me get this out of the way right now, LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey is a really good game and a great LEGO game.

Chima is a land where anthropomorphized animals live together, play games and sometimes fight over Chi, a naturally occurring substance that turned the animals into the intelligent, talking creatures that they are. The main tribes include Lions, Crocodiles, Wolves, Eagles, Ravens and Gorillas but there are other groups in the game as well.

The story sees Laval, a lion suddenly and inexplicably at odds with his long time friend, Cragger, a crocodile. Cragger is being controlled through hypnosis and tries to gain control of the Chi, eventually starting a full scale war.

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The game itself plays out like most LEGO games with more puzzles and construction like the more recent titles. You’ll be following the story to open up new areas and characters as usual and you’ll need them to get through later levels. The game does a good job of using each character’s special abilities to solve puzzles and advance in the game. Many puzzles require you to switch between characters to complete them but it’s all pretty straightforward.

There’s an added twist with the Chi in the game, gathering enough of it allows you character to “Chi-up” which will enhance their abilities and strength for a limited time. It’s essential for accessing some hidden items and absolutely critical during many of the boss battles. Plus, it just plain looks cool when you activate it.

There’s a lot to do across each of the levels and unlocking the right characters to access everything means you’ll probably be coming back more than once. You can use the LEGO studs you pick up as coin to purchase bonuses and new characters just like every other LEGO game. Purchases are handled in the Marketplace at the Lion’s hub area which functions much like the hub areas of previous LEGO games.

If you have a LEGO ID (which you can get for free at the LEGO website) you’ll also be able to enter a special LEGO ID Game Key at one of the shops in the Marketplace or in the Store Menu under The Vault. Doing so gives you LEGO Vault Codes for each section of the game you complete. You can then return to the website and redeem these codes (case sensitive) for Points which can, in turn, be used to purchase Wallpapers, Concept Art, Concept Animation and Coloring Pages. It sounds more complicated than it is and the Wallpapers and stuff are actually pretty sweet.

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Visuals:
In terms of how it looks, this is the LEGO game fans have been waiting for on the Vita. This game was made specifically for the Vita and it takes full advantage of the hardware. It’s easily the best looking LEGO game on the system.

Each of the animal domains is suited to who they are and shown in wonderful little details. The Chi itself glows and pulses as you break it free from hidden areas and pull it into your body.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t show in screen shots taken in-game and adding them here would be doing the game a disservice. Something really strange is going on here as even the official screen shots from PR look aliased and fuzzy. It appears to be a problem in the code used to interface with the Vita’s built-in screen capture.

That being said, screen shots of the cutscenes actually look great and give a better idea of what to expect with the game so I’ve put some of those into this review to show how good it really looks.

Audio:
Since Legends of Chima is also a television series and a pure LEGO property, there’s a lot more voice work in this game than most LEGO games. Keep in mind though that this is a series aimed at kids so don’t expect the Royal Shakespeare Theater Company. Laval sounds like a surfer dude, Gorillas all sound like they’re dopey or drugged out and it goes on from there. The acting itself is actually pretty good, the voices may grate on you though.

The music includes an all original score that’s both rousing and fun. You’ll hear a lot of the themes repeated, especially with the backtracking but fortunately the music is good and never really feels repetitive.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only, but there does appear to be Near functionality built into it. Unfortunately, there’s no explanation of how it works and nobody around me or on my Friends List seems to have the game so the “Incoming Gifts” area is always empty.

Conclusion:
While it doesn’t have a big name licensed property that you may be familiar with, LEGO Legends of Chima still has a good story, great gameplay and a ton of collectibles. It also just happens to be the best looking LEGO game on the Vita.

I do hope people give this game a chance. It’s definitely going to be a hard sell with so many people who’ve been burned by LEGO games on the Vita this past year along with the fact that it’s a new, unfamiliar property. Don’t let any of that scare you away though, this really is a great LEGO game and well worth buying if you’re a fan.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

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  • Rey Leija

    Great review, the best part to me was the co-op.If that’s missing I’d have to pass. But it looks like a great game for kids.

  • MJC

    Wait, so this is really a proper Lego game, that’s awesome. I’m not interested in this game, but that means there is hope for the Marvel one due out later this year.