Review: LEGO City Arctic Outpost 60035

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LEGO Artic Outpost

A box full of Arctic goodness

One of the best things about being a grown-up is undoubtedly having your own disposable income. Sure, you can spend it on sensible things, but what fun is that? Far better to spend it on toys in my opinion, and that’s just what I’ve been doing. After a shopping trip that took in the rather excellent LEGO store, I came home with the new LEGO City Arctic Outpost set, and here’s what I thought of it.

LEGO Arctic Outpost

Every day, cuttin’ the ice…

Sitting somewhere in the middle of a seven kit range, the Arctic Outpost set features three Arctic-attired minifigs, a small quad bike for general scouting around, a kick-ass truck complete with crane and pleasingly chunky wheels, a selection of tools for use by the brave explorers, and a mobile lab to do some serious investigating in. Finishing off the kit is an ice boulder that contains a mysterious mineral that is surely capable of giving us super powers, or flying cars.

The mobile lab opens up, allowing your minifigs to study stuff under the on-board microscope, warm themselves up next to the heater, or just drink some coffee. To the front is what I’m assuming is meant to be storage area, although in a pinch, it could be used by one of your guys to get some shut-eye. Hitching and un-hitching it from the truck is easy, and the whole thing slides along quite nicely on its Four skis.

LEGO Arctic Outpost

Why won’t this FIT?!

Star of the show is the truck. Overall, it’s stunningly good to look at . The wheels and tyres are reassuringly chunky, and give a real sense of this being a powerful beast. At the back is an articulated crane arm, capable of lifting ice boulders should you come across any. In the middle is a storage area containing a box of tools and stuff, and in front of that is the cab. The multiple lights, exhausts stacks, and wing mirrors all finish off the look, making this one sweet, sweet Arctic truck.

As usual, the kit went together flawlessly. As much as I love my Halo Mega Bloks, the quality isn’t a patch on LEGO. The instructions were clear, the blocks went together perfectly, and the whole thing is flawlessly designed. My only criticism is the stickers. Having to put stickers on a LEGO kit is a new thing for me, and I don’t like doing it. I consoled myself with the fact that they’re much better quality than the Mega Bloks ones. The whole build was complete in around two hours, and I’m not ashamed to admit that after that, I had great fun playing with it.

Easily one of the nicest construction sets I’ve put together and played with. Well deserving of a Five out of Five score!

  • Kit Name: LEGO City Arctic Outpost
  • Kit Number: 60035
  • Number of Pieces: 374
  • Price: Around £35
LEGO Arctic Outpost

Bask in it’s Arctic splendour!

 

 

LEGO BTTF DeLorean Time Machine

You built a time machine....out of a DeLorean?!

You built a time machine….out of a DeLorean?!

With new Christmas presents comes fresh blogging inspiration! Having already written several posts about Halo Mega Bloks, I felt it only right I should redress the balance a little by looking at something from the undisputed king of construction toys; LEGO.

What, no Einstein?

What, no Einstein?

Since it’s release a little while ago, I have coveted the Back to the Future DeLorean kit. I’m a massive fan of the films, and when this surfaced on the CUUSOO site, I knew I had to have one. Much, much hinting, and several months later, I finally got one as a Christmas present, and I was happy. I put it together on Christmas day, and spent the following few hours playing with it, and getting to know its faults.

First, if you’re unsure about what LEGO CUUSOO is, I’ll go over it briefly. LEGO fans with more creative imagination than myself come up with ideas for new LEGO kits. After beavering away with their blocks, and working out how to build whatever it is they want to build, they submit their idea to the CUUSOO site. If their submission reaches 10,000 supporters, real live LEGO people look at it, and think about releasing it. Eventually, if your idea passes muster, it hits the shelves. This is how the BTTF DeLorean came to be.

Inside the box is a selection of LEGO bricks, all bagged up in the familiar way. Also included is a rather nice build book, which features a few pages on the films, and the car. I don’t know if all the ‘grown-up’ LEGO kits come with these books, but it was a nice surprise. As per usual for a LEGO kit, nothing was missing, and the instructions were clear and easy to understand. The blocks go together far nicer than the opposition’s, and there’s NO STICKERS to put on!

No Hoverboard, sadly

No Hoverboard, sadly

I’ve only built the first version so far, but things went reasonably smoothly – the whole thing was built in around an hour. Nice touches are things like the flux capacitor, and the time display on the dashboard. The wheels fold down on the first version to avoid having rebuild most of it for the V2 car, and all the other bits needed to convert it are in the box. Marty doesn’t come with a hoverboard (which is a shame), but the minifigs look great, and finish the whole thing off.

The downside with the kit is that it’s not very robust – things like the doors a little too finicky for example. LEGO kits generally have a certain amount of robustness to them, which this lacks. I don’t know whether it’ down to its CUUSOO roots or not, but this kit is very much about replicating the look of the subject in question, rather than creating a functional toy. The best way to think of it is this is more of a LEGO model than anything else.

Overall, this is a great kit, and fans of the films are sure to love it. I think the original CUUSOO concept looked slightly better, but if a few changes are what’s required to get it into my hands, I’ll live with it! Five out of Five.

  • Kit Name: The DeLorean time machine
  • Kit Number : 21103
  • Number of Pieces: 401
  • Price: Around £35

The Game jar Files: Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Originally published on The Game Jar.com – 08/04/2013

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“Can you be in London for 9am tomorrow?” isn’t the way I’m normally talked into playing games, I’ll admit, but when it’s to see the latest in a franchise that I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for, I’m prepared to break with tradition. You see, we love Lego games in my house. I play them, my wife plays them, my children play them. So when the chance to get a first look at the upcoming Lego Marvel Super Heroes game arose, I couldn’t really refuse. I had to go.

Naturally, our hosts didn’t want to give too much of the story away, so the presentation began with a brief description of the opening cut scene, and the set up to the level we were about to see. The overarching plot will see players taking control of a whole host of iconic Marvel Super Heroes to chase down mysterious cosmic blocks, which have been brought to Earth by a certain super cool silver dude with a surfboard. Obviously, the Marvel universe has it’s fair share of iconic Super Villains too, and they’d rather you didn’t take all the Cosmic Blocks away, so our heroes will need to prevent the villains using them for their own nefarious deeds as well. To be honest, once Silver Surfer had been mentioned, I was done. My favourite Marvel character was in the game, so what else did I need to know? Nothing. Luckily I remembered that I would be expected  to write a bit more than “it’s got Silver Surfer in it” before I left, and that other, rather strange people might like other Marvel Super Heroes, so I stayed. And boy was I glad I did.

The level opened with a short cut scene of Sandman and the Abomination causing havoc in Grand Central Station. Obviously somebody was going to have to put an end to their mischief, so up stepped the first two heroes revealed to us, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk, and it was the big green ball of rage that really stole the show. Yes I know, Tony Stark’s alter ego has a shiny red suit that flies around and shoots things, but Hulk is what Lego and TT are calling a “BIG-fig”! New for this game, BIG-Fig characters are much larger than the mini-fig guys we’re used to, and they’re much stronger too. The extra size allowed Hulk to leap huge distances, pick up and throw large objects, and pull, well, just about anything heavy. Oh and one other thing, he can smash. Lego Hulk can very definitely smash! I cannot describe the size of the smile I had when Hulk got busy with reducing the environment into much smaller pieces. It was pure, childish fun, and exactly the sort of thing only possible with a game world made from Lego.

Our two heroes proceeded through the level in the regular Lego way; smash things up, build things to progress, collect lots of delicious studs, all done in a super hero kind of way, until they came upon the Abomination. To non-marvel fans, I should point out that Hulk versus Abomination is a classic character match up, and it’s something that TT are doing throughout the game, pitting heroes against their arch-enemies. Hulk and the Abomination went at it, Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots style, until eventually the Hulk prevailed and we moved on. All Lego games have had these slapstick kind of moments in them, and thankfully the humour didn’t feel out-of-place here (I’m thinking of you, Lego Lord of the Rings). But Hulk wasn’t done showing us what he was capable of, oh no. You see, what with Hulk being a “un-building things violently” kind of guy, he can’t put things together, and as a result, progress through the level stops. Luckily, he knows someone who can. At this point we got our first demo of the Hulk changing back into Bruce Banner to solve puzzles that the Hulk isn’t capable of. Does being able to switch between the two at will feel slightly wrong? Maybe, just a little.

As the level neared its conclusion, our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman joined the party. Pleasingly, he was realised just as any comic fan would expect.  He wise-cracked, he slung webs, and he effortlessly swung across the screen with his webbing. Using his Spidersense allowed him to reveal things in the world not previous apparent, and like all previous Lego games, progression relied upon making use of all the heroes various abilities. At this point, the level of care that TT are taking with the IP became apparent. Each hero offered different and distinct powers, and combined with the extra voice acting, it felt like the developers had paid special attention to making the characters feel really authentic. The level came to an end with our three heroes fighting Sandman, who by this point had become a giant, swirling sand monster. Watching all the bits of sand and Lego brick fly around was quite impressive, though defeating him seemed to be a little simplistic. Sand obviously solidifies when hit with water, so our heroes worked together to reassemble a series of water cannons, and solidify Sandman into submission. As it was only the first level, perhaps calling it too simple is a little harsh, but it definitely felt like the weakest part of what we’d been shown.

One thing that can’t be criticized is the game engine. During the demo it became clear that it’s definitely taken a step forward for this title, and has allowed TT to make the world a lot more solid and believable. As demonstrated in the Sandman boss battle, the engine can handle more things on-screen, so when Hulk smashes something (did I mention he does that a lot?), a great deal of rubble is produced, and realistically strewn all over the place. It’s just one of the little touches that add some extra flavour to the world. Also added for Lego Marvel Super Heroes is dialogue during the level. Travellers Tales added voiced cut scenes to their games a couple of titles back, but this is the first one to feature characters talking to each other during game-play. Once again, it’s one of those little touches that’s adds flavour, Spiderman does wise-crack his way through his adventures, so to hear him doing during a level feels so right.

Our demo wrapped up with a summary of what we can expect from the game, and a short q&a session that allowed us to see just what they were willing to reveal. The full character list isn’t finalised yet, but they have stated that there will be over 100 of them to choose from. Some characters have been revealed, in addition to the ones I’ve already mentioned, confirmed characters include; Wolverine, Captain America, Loki, Black Widow, and Deadpool. Taking into consideration the desire to have these classic match-ups, I think it’s reasonable to assume that characters like Sabretooth will also make it in. Like Lego Batman 2, Marvel Lego Super Heroes features a central hub area, this time a Marvel version of New York City. Players can explore famous sights such as a Lego statue of liberty, or Stark towers, X Mansion and Asteroid M. Even though we didn’t get to see Lego New York during the demo, the description of it sounded promising, certainly more vibrant than Gotham, with more things to find and do in it. Also mentioned when quizzed, was their aim to make “interesting use of the villains”. Personally, I hope that means a Super Villains campaign, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Even though the time during the demo was relatively short, I still left quietly impressed. I was reassured about the level of care TT were taking with the IP, and relieved to see the game was more than just Batman 2 with the heroes swapped out. The controls and game-play mechanics didn’t appear to be too fiddly (something previous games have suffered from), and even in preview code form, it looks quite pretty. If I had any criticism at all, it’s that it’s still very much a Lego game, and therefore unlikely to win over anyone who hasn’t enjoyed previous titles. But that’s about it. Travellers Tales have taken a technical step forward with this game, the world looked bigger, and more alive than ever before, and promises much for the full game. I know its early days yet, but based on what I’ve seen, Lego Marvel Super Heroes looks like it could be the best Lego game yet.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes has a projected release date of Autumn 2013, will be released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, and PC.

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