Bionicle Heroes

Bionicle Heroes

Traveller's Tales' third LEGO attempt is no Star Wars.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: December 9, 2006
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Duplicating the success of one surprise hit can be a terrifying prospect for a new developer. The temptation, of course, is just to do the same thing again, and make sure that you pump out that sequel as fast as possible to ride the wave of hype built up behind the first game. UK-based developer Traveller's Tales is anything but a new developer, however, which is why it's such a mystery that even after releasing LEGO Star Wars II, a sequel that really just transplanted the same gameplay from the critically and commercially acclaimed LEGO Star Wars into the world of The Original Trilogy, they tried to make lightning strike thrice with even less effort.


Bionicle Heroes should have been a game that captured the slightly more "mature" angle of one of LEGO's biggest lines of toys in years. It's clear that there was an understanding of the characters and the world, but hastily throwing the same LEGO collecting and building gameplay at a Resident Evil 4-style over-the-shoulder camera and control scheme does not a good game make, and worse yet, it becomes obvious early on that without the charm and humor of the Star Wars universe, the formula becomes excessively tiring after just a couple of hours.

For those that either don't have kids or aren't kids enough at heart to have jumped into the whole Bionicle universe, the game doesn't really do a very solid job of explaining things. There's really no over-arching narrative to explain what's going on, just a simple cutscene that explains that formerly cutesy Piraka creatures have donned masks and gone all evil, y'know.... 'cause. As a mysterious savior that arrives via tube to the island of Voya Nui and is handed one o' them nasty masks, you're able to transform into various Bionicle forms to... well, basically to shoot stuff. A lot. Very sloppily.

This effectively leaves the exploration of any of the source material up to the player, either by actually reading some of the books or watching the TV shows (or, like me, an hour or so on Wikipedia) to glean that the game is based on the Legends storyline, or, if you're truly masochistic, by buying storyline bits with the Bionicle pieces you pick up while playing through the game.

The money is better spent on upgrading your various robots, however, dropping endless loot into categories to upgrade things like weapons and armor. The whole mask system is inherently flawed, however, not only because of the fact that any time you pick up one of the many, many masks scattered throughout the levels that you auto-switch to that 'bot, but because the game is fundamentally broken by the fact that if you collect enough Bionicle pieces -- and like LEGO Star Wars you can find them everywhere -- you kick off Hero Mode, which makes you invincible for the rest of the level until you find something that requires that you use your new golden-robo powers to build it.

This means that if you're truly diligent about picking up pieces to fund your bankroll for unlocking things like cheats and storyline details and utterly useless basic hints that should have been explained in the first level as tutorial pop-ups or just looking in the instruction manual, you should be hitting Hero Mode a couple of minutes into the start of a particular stage. Since basic objects that can be blown up respawn, there's basically an endless supply for Bionicle pieces, which was offset by jacking up the prices for most of the Cantin--err Enclave store items to stupid levels.

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