Posted by Chris Scott Barr on Jun 18, 2009

Review – LEGO Battles (DS)

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We’ve seen a lot of LEGO video games over the last few years, most of which have been a lot of fun. Well the guys in charge decided it was time to branch out from the RPG games that they’ve been so focused on of late and bring us LEGO Battles. This real-time strategy game for the DS lets you take command of pirates, wizards, spacemen and more. But does it deliver the fun?

The game has several different campaigns to play through, each from a different LEGO theme. Each campaign is broken up into three acts, which get progressively harder. The game is great for those unfamiliar with RTS titles, and walks you through every little step at the beginning. After a couple of battles you’ll be building towers and commanding your men like a pro.

As cool as it sounds to have a wide variety of character archetypes and buildings, you quickly learn that they’re all the exact same thing with a different skin and name. By the third campaign it is rather easy to get bored. Not only do the different battles start to seem familiar, but even as someone who rarely touches a RTS game, I found it to be extremely easy. I’m sure that the younger crowd will find it a bit more challenging, which is alright seeing how it’s a game comprised of toy bricks. (Even if adults do still play with LEGOS.)

Traveler’s Tales did add in a nice feature that not only adds to the difficulty of the game, but really keeps you on your toes. They made it so that the characters you control had a mind of their own and couldn’t navigate even the most simplest of terrain. Seriously, if there is a tree even slightly in their way, they’ll either stop, or go really far around to find a different path. Sure, two steps to the right would work, but why not a hundred steps to the left? The men also seem to be set on auto-attack. It’s really difficult to corral a group of men when half of them want to run off and attack an enemy that’s not even on your screen. Even if you tell them to stop attacking and change directions they’ll still sometimes go back and get themselves killed.

The controls themselves seem pretty straightforward and well laid out. It would be nice to command more than 9 units at once, but it seems to be about the perfect number for the screen size. My biggest concern is that it is too easy to select the wrong target. Each character is rather tiny, so you must be extra precise when tapping on them. Even worse, they can get hidden behind a building, forcing you to select a large area and moving them away.

As with the other LEGO titles we’ve seen in recent years, there are a lot of things to unlock and collect. Each level has 20 blue studs that can be used to buy new Heroes (provided you’ve unlocked them for purchase), there are also chests and orange blocks which unlock different abilities and such.

The multiplayer aspect looks like it would be fun. Essentially you can hook up with someone else playing on their DS and build up your own armies to defeat the other. You’re able to pick and choose different characters and Heroes to use during these special battles, which can add to the fun.

Overall, I’d say that it’s not a terrible game, nothing great either. It’ll keep you entertained for a few hours, but eventually the gameplay gets stale. Kids are likely to get more enjoyment out of it, if they can get past the AI issues.

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