Recent Lego video games have featured gameplay that is cutesy and kid-friendly but still solid enough to appeal to more seasoned gamers. Lego Battles tries to take this trend into the realm of real-time strategy, embracing the basic concepts on which many successful RTS games are built. Resource acquisition, building construction, unit production, and combat are the main gameplay elements here, and the game bears strong similarities to early RTS games like Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Sticking with what works is generally a good thing, and Lego Battles does that well enough to appeal to folks who don't have much RTS experience. The downside of imitating a 15-year-old game is that Lego Battles lacks the sophistication to appeal to a more experienced audience. The vexing pathfinding issues and slow-witted friendly AI are often frustrating, but the solid core mechanics and humorous Lego charm make the light strategy of Lego Battles fun and rewarding.
6214593NoneThe evil wizard cackles as he leads his undead minions into battle.
There are six different campaigns in Lego Battles, each featuring a different Lego faction. Medieval knights, skeleton warriors, pirates, an imperial navy, astronauts, and aliens each have a unique campaign that takes a couple of hours to finish, making for a robust amount of single-player content. Each faction is set against another, and these rivalries create some interesting situations. For example, at the beginning of the astronaut campaign you are tasked with capturing an alien specimen. Meanwhile, in the alien campaign, you are miffed to learn that some strange creatures have run off with your buddy, so it's off to the rescue. These mission briefings are often amusing, and there are a few cutscenes per campaign that contain the uniquely charming humor found in recent Lego adventure games.
Each campaign begins with easy missions and slowly ramps up the difficulty, and the first available campaign has an extensive tutorial that walks you through pretty much every aspect of the game. In order to construct buildings and recruit soldiers, you'll need bricks. You can earn bricks by building a mine, but not all maps have a conveniently located mine site. Given that, your main brick supply will usually come from chopping down trees and carrying the logs back to your castle or your yield-boosting lumber mill. The castle is your home base where you can replace a fallen hero and recruit builders, who are the only units that can harvest trees and build structures. There are structures that produce units (barracks, special factory, and shipyard) and fortifications that help you defend your territory (walls and towers). You won't need or be able to build all these structures on every map (bridges, for example, are rarely needed), but they will all come in handy at some point in your campaigns. Constructing a bustling brick-reaping, unit-producing settlement gives you a great feeling of progressively becoming more powerful, and you'll soon be ready to extend your influence out into the world.
Building a barracks lets you recruit a few different kinds of troops, and as you amass your army you need to build farms to feed them all. Each farm supplies four regular units (such as soldier, archer, or knight) and one special unit (such as boat, tank, or dragon), and you can have a maximum of 20 regular units and 4 special units in any given level. You can explore the map and battle enemies by selecting a maximum of nine units with the stylus, then tapping a location or enemy. While this may sound simple, your movements are complicated by the fact that your units aren't very good at navigating the map. If you tell them to cross an open landscape, they'll do fine. But if you send them around a bend, some of them will get hung up on the scenery and forget what they were doing in the first place. Narrow bridges and winding paths are even more problematic. You can tap the destination at regular intervals during your units' journey, reissuing the movement command and making sure all your units arrive, but this gets tedious and makes it aggravating to manage more than nine units at a time.