When Lego Worlds was first announced I was quietly optimistic. It all sounded so simple: take Minecraft, let the folks at Telltale Games smash it to pieces, and then rebuild it all with Lego bricks.
At first glance, there are more than a few similarities to Minecraft. It's pretty clear that the aim was to take the popularity and hysteria of Mojang's popular creator and add a Lego twist.
Within a few minutes, things start to feel much more muscular than Minecraft. Lego Worlds produces a much more complete package, packed with far more options for creation than a creation fan could dream of.
The set-up is that a lone astronaut's ship is hit, and crash-lands on a strange alien world. Meteors fall to the ground and, upon inspection, you'll start to discover various tools that your Lego guy or girl can use to shape the world around him.
First off is the most important of all, the Discovery tool. Equip this, and you can point at an object and then hit 'A' to discover. This adds the item (or character) to your list of discoveries, and if you spend the required amount of Lego studs, you can unlock your discovery and then place it just about anywhere.
Next is the landscape tool. This proves important for digging down to the many crates you'll find around the maps, but it's also perfect for flattening land, and creating hills and land formations.
You'll continue to unlock a few other items over the first few hours, a paint tool for changing the colour of just about anything in the game, and also the option to change the actual properties of your surroundings. Paint the ground with lava and you'll have the beginnings of Pompeii under your feet.
There are also build tools allowing you to use individual Lego bricks to create structures. These could be as simple as a brick wall, but get your creative juices flowing and there's very little to limit to what you could create. Thankfully you'll also get a Copy tool allowing you to duplicate structures, or save them to quickly rebuild in another place or on another land.
With the full arsenal of tools at your disposal (there's also an all-encompassing 'free-build' tool which covers all of the above, customisation options and an inventory bag), it's time to start on your quest to collect all the golden bricks.
It will probably take a few hours before you realise the scope of the game. You could take the boring route and waltz around looking for cave entrances, but it's much easier to grab the landscape tool and dig a hole directly down after locating one of the yellow/orange shafts of light that point you towards a chest.
There are also other colours you'll see streaking down the skyline. Blue and purple point towards quests and items, while White lets you locate your ship. After collecting enough bricks you can head back to your ship to carry out some repairs, before jetting off to another land to discover further gold bricks.
Soon enough you'll start unlocking larger lands, and discovering various biomes within a single world. You'll find characters who need help such as taking a photo for them, or finding an item they want, and many of these will reward you with an important item or even a gold brick. Carrying out these quests also allows you to discover the individual, which means that holding off the two guys chasing the police officer is a sure-fire way to build your own Police station when you have a few days to spare.
There is an impressive amount of quests and bricks to collect. It wasn't until I'd surpassed 70 bricks that they started to become a little more difficult to track down. Due to their sparseness, I found myself distracted and running around newly-discovered locations.
Then there's the creation side. Step away from the side quests, take a look at the wealth of discoveries and you'll start to imagine how complex things could get. There is nothing stopping you from grabbing a few Lego instruction books from eBay and rebuilding (or creating a pretty close replica) of things like the Millennium Falcon, TIE-Fighter squadrons or even an entire hangar.
When building a city, you can populate it with people, cars, planes and helicopters in an airport.
Graphically, there are various biomes in worlds, made of Lego bricks. Locations feel more detailed and populated than Minecraft, but that leads to a few problems of its own. Draw distance is pretty lousy. The beams of light are visible at a greater range, but there's no indication if you're heading towards an entire village or barren wastelands. It's fun exploring, especially in some of the many vehicles, but moving too quickly means the world struggles to load in time, and (especially in split-screen co-operative play) you'll find yourself stood hitting an invisible wall while you wait for the world ahead to load into the game.
Otherwise loading times aren't too bad.
Thankfully there are no such issues with the sound, and you'll be greeted with the typical Lego charm in just about everything you do. There is little voice-acting which is a shame when you consider the amount of work in titles like Lego Star Wars.
Some people will find the initial bugs quite distracting, but it didn't stop me working away up to 100 bricks with the promise of being able to create new worlds from scratch. It's a tall ask especially with the difficulty of locating the last 15-20 bricks, but it certainly adds some longevity to the discovery side, and menu placements for DLC show that there's plenty planned for the future.
Time and time again, you look at what Lego Worlds is trying to achieve and I find myself forgiving the launch bugs, and praying they are fixed quickly. Perhaps Xbox's forthcoming Project Scorpio will push up those draw distances and push down loading times.
When you get the discovery and build tools in your hands, the only work you'll be worried about are the worlds you can discover or create.
Lego Worlds is an exciting prospect that delivers on the promise of discovering and creating your own Lego worlds.
There's more than your fair share of launch bugs so some will choose to wait a month or two, but fans of creation titles will be pleased to know it's time for Minecraft to move over - there's a new king in town.
- Gameplay: 8/10.
- Graphics: 7/10.
- Sound: 8/10.
- Story: 8.5/10.
- Value: 9/10.
- Overall: 8.1/10.
Review by Leigh Walker.