Lego games have been a staple for family-friendly comedic gaming ever since the very first Lego Star Wars: The Video Game was released way back in 2005. However, a lot has changed since back then, mainly the introduction of voicing for the characters.
THE SILENT ERA OF LEGO GAMES
For seven years, no licensed action/adventure Lego game had included any form of voice-acted dialogue, with the exception of the occasional death grunt; I’m looking at you Lego Star Wars Yoda. Throughout this time, fans of all ages would be able to sit back and appreciate the simplistic and comedic recreation of their favourite franchises.
Some of Lego’s most popular and arguably greatest games including Lego Star Wars, Lego Harry Potter, and Lego Batman were released during this era of silenced storytelling.
When I first played the original Lego Star Wars II with my older brother, neither of us had seen any Star Wars films. Nevertheless, we still had a great laugh sitting back and watching as the famous “I am your Father” scene was recreated with a voiceless Vader showing Luke a cute couple photograph of him and Padme.
Even now, after watching the films for what feels like millions of times, it’s still funny to go back and see the parallels between the seriousness of the films and slapstick non-voiced recreations.
THE CHANGE TO VOICE ACTED GAMES
However, with the release of 2012’s Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes came a massive overhaul to the Lego formula. On top of the introduction of now standard mechanics, like free roam and a new character selection, Lego Batman 2 introduced voice-acted characters – arguably the biggest and most significant change from the classic Lego blueprints.
This shape up in the Lego format can be seen as quite divisive. On one hand, the argument could be made that the introduction of voiced characters was a welcome one, with the new voices giving characters more personality for the games with an original story, which to be fair, it’s fairly harder to piece together what is going on if there’s not a film that was released prior to its release. On the other hand, it could be said that the voice acting took away from the charm of the original Lego formula.
In my opinion, what made the original Lego games great was their ability to tell a story through action and slapstick comedy, without the need for dialogue to spell out what is going on on-screen. But, for the sake of being objective, I’m not going to ignore some of the obvious pros of voice acting.
It can be refreshing to hear fan favourite characters like Batman and Robin throw banter back and forth to each other in a light-hearted manner. Likewise, hearing the Joker’s iconic laugh is a treat to the ears. Furthermore, for expansive games like Lego Dimensions, the voice acting is a necessity.
Almost a decade later, Lego is still continuing to drop licensed Lego games with voice acting, and even still, hardcore fans (including myself) can be seen pressing for a return to the original format.
However, there is still a key difference between different Lego games and the voice acting that is provided.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF VOICE ACTING
For some games like Lego Lord Of The Rings and Lego Jurassic Park, the voice-acted dialogue was stripped right from the films. This often felt janky at times, as it was obvious that the audio did not belong there, based on the sometimes poor quality and occasional background noises belonging to the original sound.
And yes, whilst it may have been nice to hear Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm once again, there’s no denying the distracting shift in audio quality from the modern in-game sound effects and music to sound quality from the early 90s. It’s especially in cases like these that make the absence of the old Lego charm that much more obvious.
With that said, however, many Lego games have fantastic original voice acting, some from the likes of A-list celebrities like Mark Hamill as The Joker, or Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowski and Owen Grady. Listening to the seamless transitioning from voice to voice whilst matching the goofy chaotic action on screen is a drastic improvement from the stripped audio of other Lego games.
Both voiced and non-voiced Lego games have their pros and cons and are each arguably more suited for specific cases as previously mentioned. Although, for me as an old Lego fan, I personally prefer the classic silent era of light-hearted comedic storytelling over the now-voiced era.
At the end of the day, I play a Lego game for the humorous slapstick reimagining of the franchises I have grown to love over the years – with the exception of original stories. If I wanted to hear voice acting, I’d just watch the film.
What do you think about voice acting in Lego games? Let me know in the comments!