Warner Bros allowed us to spend a lot of time playing through the Ghostbusters Story Levels at Gamescom. In addition to this I also got to spend a lot of time battling against the Warner Bros staff in the new Battle Arena mode using some of the new characters. I also got the chance to play the newest build of Lego Worlds which is currently in early access – scroll down the page for my impressions on that. Spoilers: It’s the best.
Starting off with the Ghostbusters level pack, I had a really good time – the levels themselves are beautifully designed, the small enclosed spaces of haunted houses make for a great puzzles. One of my major gripes with the latest Lego games was how a lot of puzzles had me dragging blocks across a massive stage or scaling up buildings to open doors in the area I started (Lego: Batman). This game was free of that – the puzzles were all about experimenting with different characters and how they interacted with the world – each of the ghostbusters carry different tools which allow for different methods of puzzle solving, it’s simple but fun enough. The game really hits its stride with the stellar humour – with voice acting using snippets from the recent movie, one liners worked well and a lot of the visual gags reflected the playfulness of the series. The music in the game is also impressive, orchestral pieces accompanied my actions as I fought to contain the Ghost I had been tracking throughout the level.
One problem I had with the game was the inclusion of non-ghostbusters characters. I am a big Adventure Time fan, so I wanted to play through this level using Finn and Jake as part of my ghostbusters team – however their interaction with the level itself was minimal – even when attacking some enemies I found myself locked to a single character. As the game’s major selling point is about the interaction of these different universes, this was a little disappointed. On the flip side to this I was impressed by the use of parallel dimensions as a puzzle mechanic in the game – it gives a lot of life to the gateway other than just setting up which characters you want to use. Effectively characters would only be able to access a dimension if they were placed on a specific section of the gateway – this had me drawing my focus away from the TV and interacting with the mini-figures below me.
The Battle Arena section was easily my favourite portion of the game though. Playable with up to four controllers it’s a fun and frantic game mode that differs brazenly from the slow-paced puzzling of the campaign. I played three of the modes on offer – Capture the Flag, and Tic-Tac Boom, a pass-the-parcel like game with a large Bomb that you roll around the Arena, and Objective Mode (where you are tasked with defeating certain characters or smashing certain objects). Whilst all of these were a blast to play – the stand out here was capture the flag. Working on a points based system which rewards for steals, ‘kills’ (I guess?) or placing a flag in your base, means that players can use a variety of tactics instead of just madly rushing for a flag. In my first match at this mode I dominated for much of the game – because Supergirl is ridiculously overpowered – but ended up losing by two points as my opponent managed to steal my flag and avoid my laser vision for long enough as his score built up. This was some of the most fun I’ve had at Gamescom…
However the best experience of the week so far has been my time with Lego Worlds. Usually I can’t stand games that are clearly ‘borrowing’ the minecraft formula – but this is a fusion of styles that just works. Currently in early access and a long way out from release Lego Worlds feels polished and fun – its graphically outstanding as the lighting effects meld with the sheer expanse of lego bricks to creat beautifully realised and procedurally generated worlds. With not overarching story to fill these worlds, the game relies on your creativity as a player – but gives you a lot of tools to nurture that creativity.
Some stand out features include the ability to play as different Lego Characters who each have different abilities – some of these are extremely powerful, such as the vampire who can turn into a bat at ease and start flying around the world. Flight isn’t on a timer or stamina bar so it’s easy and enjoyable to just float around the trees and structures that have been created. Effectively the possibilities of the game are endless – with enough support players could build expansive cities and buildings that they then share on line. It is then possible to hop onto a dragon (usually found near a volcano or spawned via the ‘discoveries’ mechanic) and start destroying the city with devastating fireballs.
Of course the game is a long way out, and there were a few issues I encountered. Mainly the draw distance in the game is very small, meaning you’ll basically always be walking into a world thats only partly loaded. This isn’t a major problem right now but became annoying when I wanted to see my creations against the backdrop of the whole island. I am however sure this is something WB are working on and can’t wait to see the final package.