E3 09: LEGO Battles is a bit of a surprise

The LEGO games, while always decent, started to run out of steam for me a while ago. The same old collection-based platforming was getting a bit stale and it’s nice to see the franchise branch out a little bit into new territory. LEGO Battles is one such example of this. Having not really read anything about it up to this point, I was pleased to discover a decent looking RTS game in there.

Hit the jump for some impressions

LEGO Battles is probably best described as a simplified RTS rooted in the gameplay of Warcraft. To keep things simple, the only resource necessary to build troops are LEGO blocks which can be acquired either by gathering them from the environment or building a mine which will drop them into your inventory at regular intervals but risk being destroyed by enemy attacks.

Farms have to be built in order to support a higher troop count, which eventually maxes out at 25 units. Individual units have a wide variety of abilities, including weapons, magic and other special attacks and there are 85 different units which can be unlocked through play, either as a result of meeting criteria in a level or finding collectibles during play.

These are small-scale skirmishes and the single-player mode is designed so that matches take about five to ten minutes to complete. Multiplayer games will support up to three players and can have a time limit in excess of an hour.

The game is looking to be pretty large for a DS title. Originally conceived as three separate games, it was decided late in development that the whole package had to be delivered on a single cartridge. What that means is three full campaigns which can be played as either good or evil with 24 rendered cutscenes all crammed on to one DS cartridge.

I’m looking forward to playing this, in part because it looks adorable but also because the simplification of what can often be a convoluted style of game really appeals to me. I avoid RTS games not because they aren’t really fun but because I can’t keep track of everything going on and wind up just getting wiped out when the second or third attack on my forces is made. LEGO Battles looks just simple enough to play that I may be picking this one up when it comes out.

Conrad Zimmerman