They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But if that is the case, then what are we to make of Lego Worlds - a game that has so obviously been inspired by Minecraft which, in turn, took its cue from the Danish plastic toy maker?
The answer to this roundabout introduction of developer TT Games' latest Lego creation is simple: we can make a lot of it or, to be more precise, we can make a lot of creative stuff using it. For Lego Worlds sets you on the path to becoming a Master Builder by giving you to tools to build, discover and copy lots of cool designs while looking for handfuls of golden bricks. What's more, if you've ever played a Lego videogame before, you'll feel instinctively at home. That’s because TT Games' experience has been used to great effect here and it has elements of what made the likes of Lego Batman and Lego Star Wars so popular.
With Lego Worlds, your first task - after watching a beautiful yet brief space-based intro is to create your character - is choosing the gender, head, hair, facial features and body of a familiar digital minifigure. You're then plonked into the first Lego world (a pirate playground) and left to your own devices, intuitively roaming free, smashing and collecting objects, while “talking” to various characters along the way.
The more you explore, the more you unlock and there's a near constant amount of stimulation to keep you interested. It won't be long before you come across the Discovery tool, for instance, which lets you scan and collect models, outfits, creatures and vehicles, and by taking aim, items can appear from thin air or crash through the ground as they rise into the air. A short while later, the more fiddly Copy tool allows you to scan and save huge items while the Paint tool will let you add your own splashes of colour.
Although the learning curve did feel a little steep at times, perseverance paid off. Collect enough golden bricks and, after a good while, you'll be able to start randomly generating your own worlds. To do so entails having to unlock various pre-built worlds beforehand which does feel a tad too restrictive given the freeform idea of Lego. This is when the fun really kicked in for us and our young tester who, through the early stages of our review, appeared to be enjoying himself.
While building worlds on screen does not, for an older reviewer at least, replicate the feeling of hunting for that elusive bricks under the sofa, humour and charm makes up for it to a degree. A good number of vehicles drive things along nicely and there are also some small, short quests to engage with. It’s such a huge game that you keep discovering things to do. And yet, it's not quite perfect, which is perhaps surprising given the game has been around on the PC as a Steam beta for a couple of years.
One of the issues is that its translation to consoles has brought with it a frustrating camera and, while there's a first person view thrown in as a bonus, it would have been better if the developer had thrown it out – primarily because it brought on motion sickness. The game can also feel overwhelming, with too many options on the table. By thinking about where something may be, the fluidity of the game is ruined ever so slightly.
Yet it's still fantastically fun (and a nice, low price). Like Minecraft, it's obviously going to be a solid engager for a long time to come that's hugely addictive. In that sense, it has a level of longevity that will far surpass other Lego games, not least because seeing a world of Lego bricks and lots of studs dotting the landscape is a joy that just doesn't fade. There’s a multiplayer function too which lets you join other worlds or let them join yours. Given Lego Worlds was a delayed release – it should have been out in February – it has been well worth the wait.Reuse content