No more LEGOs
That is, I’m not quite done, but I’m done.
I own several of the Traveler’s Tales LEGO video games. I’ve played the first two LEGO Star Wars games on my GameCube. I unlocked all of the characters, collected all of the mini-kits, earned True Jedi on every level, and unlocked all of the bonuses. I played LEGO Batman on my Playstation 2. I unlocked all the characters, collected all of the mini-kits, earned True Hero or True Villain on every level, and unlocked all of the bonuses. And now that I’ve played LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 on my Playstation 3, I think I can safely ignore LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, and LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.
In fact, I don’t think I need to play a LEGO video game ever again.According to LEGO Harry Potter‘s completion stats, I’m 98.7% done. I’ve earned True Wizard on every level, collected all 20 of red bonus bricks, all 24 of the house crest pieces, unlocked 166 of the 167 characters, rescued 49 of the 50 students in peril, and collected 198 of the 200 gold bricks. Even for all this, I’m closer to done than it sounds. And further away. You earn a gold block for rescuing students, so I actually have just one student and one more gold brick to find. Finding all 200 gold bricks unlocks a bonus level, where I’d find the final character, Lord Voldemort. So I have just three tasks left to complete. Except that I can’t find that last student in peril, or that last gold brick. I’ve even consulted the cheat guides, but there are just too many students in peril, and too many gold bricks. I’m not sure which one of each is the one I’m missing, so I don’t know what to go looking for. I’ve tried to systematically make my way through Hogwarts, but clearly I’m missing something. And there’s a substantial amount of time involved in walking again through Hogwarts, with its many twists and turns, in anything resembling a thorough fashion.
And it’s not fun.
In another game, that might be less of a criticism. In another game, the rewards would be set up differently. I might need to spend more time grinding to bring my characters up to a level where they’re strong enough to explore a new area without getting killed, but the payoff would be new weapons and armor, new side quests and new storylines. I might have to keep practicing until I could jump and grab and balance just right, but the reward would be access to a new level with new challenges.
In the LEGO games, the only reward is the sense of completion. Lord Voldemort may be the final character, but within the LEGO games, all the members of a particular character class are pretty much identical, except for the aesthetics. There’s nothing that Lord Voldemort can do that any other dark wizard can’t do, except to earn me a couple of trophies. (Which again, give you nothing but bragging rights and a sense of completion.)
Even worse, when you do finally complete the game, there’s literally nothing else to do. Once you have 100% and all the trophies, there’s no reason to come back and keep playing. You really may as well just sell the game.
And at least for me, there’s something wrong with that. I want to have a reason to keep my old games on the shelf. It appeals to the collector in me. But as obsessive as I am, I still can’t justify holding on to a game where there’s actually less reason to play through a level once you’ve done it the first time. It’s still fun to ride around the Old West as John (or Jack) Marston. It’s still fun to solve the puzzles in Portal and Portal 2, and to stumble on a line of dialogue from GLaDOS or Wheatley that you missed the first time through. Once you’ve found all the hidden items in the LEGO games, however, they’re gone, so while most of the levels are designed to require at least two playthroughs to find all the bonus items, there’s no incentive to keep coming back. There’s actually less to each level than there was the first time through.
It may be part of the problem that I’m a Harry Potter fan, and the somewhat humorously mimed version of the storyline in the games actually impedes enjoyment of the game. It may be that the Star Wars movies were ripe for some light parody, and there are enough campy takes on the Batman rogues’ gallery that the silly, over-the-top feel of the LEGO version seemed like a good fit. But the Harry Potter universe, as it develops, becomes much, much darker. Without that sense of genuine menace, there’s little reason to watch as several hundred pages of character and plot are crammed into a few minutes of animated charades.
More than anything else, my gameplay has become pathological. I’m searching and searching for those last few items just because I’m so close to that magical but totally arbitrary 100%. I’m frustrated, and I’m just wasting time.
I’m not having any fun.
And I don’t need to do that.
Unless they make another Batman game. . .
Gavin Craig is co-editor of The Idler. You can follow him on Twitter at @craiggav.