|System: PS2, GC, PC, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Traveller's Tales||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: E||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Like a Lego block, Bionicle Heroes may present a choking hazard to sensitive gamers.
If Bionicle Heroes were an arcade game, it wouldn't generate a lot of revenue due to the fact that it's so easy you are hardly in any danger of dying. Pop in a quarter and play it until closing time - if you can last that long.
Gamers that enjoy mindless shooting and have a low tolerance for frustration will absolutely adore Bionicle Heroes. You just can't lose, and the action never stops - it never stops repeating that is. The gameplay is limited and repetitive. It's got the depth of a shooting gallery with virtually no strategy or challenge that isn't obviously and immediately apparent. This may have a lot to do with the LEGO license which obviously aims the Bionicle franchise at a younger demographic. Bionicles appear in comics, TV, movies, videos, and of course, exist as LEGO action figures. Bionicles naturally lend themselves to the medium of video games, but this game demonstrates so little personality that even a robot would find it cold.
Arriving on the island of Voya Nui, your mission is to defeat the evil Piraca. You must capture the Mask of Light before they are able to harness its powers and take over the world. You will be given six different masks, each of which correspond to a specific elemental such as fire, water, forest, ice, and so forth. Each mask will afford you special powers to survive in each environment where you will ultimately defeat the Piraca boss at the end. The gameplay primarily consists of shooting, collecting items, and upgrading your abilities. As you roam through the linear levels, you will encounter various enemies. You will also see various LEGO items that you can shoot which can be shattered into multiple pieces. You'll get points for this inane activity, as well as working your way toward Hero mode. Long before you even get to the halfway point of a particular level you will have collected enough LEGO pieces and defeated enough enemies to activate the Hero mode which makes you indestructible for the rest of the level. How challenging is that? Not only will you never die after you active the Hero mode, but if you do die beforehand, you'll simply respawn with a full bar of health. You'll lose the current mask but you'll be able to pick one up quickly if you just search around the environment.
This kind of assisted gameplay is going to put cheat code sites out of business. There isn't much of a game if there's not much of a challenge, which could be somewhat overlooked if this were touted as an interactive movie. Unfortunately, the storyline is convoluted and has virtually no affect on the gameplay other than to set up the premise. There is a trophy room that you can visit to catch up on the story, but it's so bogged down with Bionicle-specific references that only the true fan will understand, or care, what's going on. If you don't know anything about Bionicles, you can still play the game, but you'll probably want to avoid the trophy room which will just end up making things as clear as mud.
Combat is easy and ultimately unsatisfying. All you have to do is hold down the fire button and dodge incoming. You don't even have to mash the buttons. While this may be fun for the first two levels, it just gets boring since there is virtually no way to lose. Bionicle borrows heavily from the LEGO Star Wars game in terms of combat engine and the use of a form of magic similar to the Force. But if fails miserably attempting to capture the charm of the LEGO Star Wars universe.
Characters do little in the way of verbal communication both in-game and during the cutscenes which are short and sweet. Unlocking cutscenes, you'll be able to see what the defeated Piraca bosses are up to it. They are shown basically lounging around on the beach enjoying their early retirement from evilness. It's kind of cute, but like the rest of the game it appears half-baked. The ideas hinted at in this game are not fully realized. There are no multiplayer modes and no Bionicle editor that would allow you to create or arrange your own Bionicle, other than the stock upgrades available. Replay value is relegated to the amassing of achievement points which will require another play-through since you can't get all 1,000 points the first time through.
Visually, Bionicle Heroes is a good looking game. The graphics are well detailed and animate fluidly. I didn't notice any clipping or slowdown except during explosions and other heavy usage of particle effects, but nothing that interfered with the actual gameplay. The robots display shiny, reflective armor, but they take on no damage. The tunes are looped and become annoying after a short while but even though there are different songs for each of the themed levels, the Hero mode soundtrack cuts in when that mode is activated and continues to the end of the level. At least you can turn the sound off, and you can actually turn off the entire sound level to the game. Since there are no voiceovers and no pressing storyline, you won't be in any danger of missing any important developments.
Bionicle is definitely a family-oriented game. There is no blood and not even a robot gets killed. This game is definitely aimed at the young and inexperienced player. Serious gamers need not apply.
By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer