STAFF REVIEW of Bionicle Heroes (Xbox 360)

Friday, December 8, 2006.
by Adam Rivard

Bionicle Heroes Box art Usually most action figure, TV series or Movie adaptations of a game fail to deliver fun gameplay for the fans. The problem is that the developers do not take enough time to make the gameplay original and addictive. They make them simple because the game sells a lot of copies around the world because is based on something very popular. Then there is Lego that has made a few videogames. They have had many failures but some games ended up pretty good (Lego Star Wars). So now Lego tries their luck with these robot creations called Bionicle. First introduced in 2001, the Bionicle series of toys by Lego has captured the attention of the 7-15 year old male demographic, as well as the checking accounts of respective parents. Capitalizing on this success, Lego partnered with Disney to release an animated film based on the story behind the collectible characters a couple years back which was a great success but the game that followed was anything but entertaining. Now for the first time on the Xbox 360 hobbyists once again will be able to become their favorite characters from the Bionicle world. Does Bionicle Heroes published by Eidos, offer something original to establish a new franchise in the gaming world or does it end up in the trash like most adaptations? Read on and find out.

Bionicle is actually a Lego spin-off, and in the game you take control of six Bionicle Heroes in order to save the island of Voya Nui from the Piraka who have stolen the masks of life. Your character can switch between each hero by changing his mask, and each brings with it a unique power, as well as a gun of some sort. Nothing innovating here, anyway the premise of the game is very simple. There are six zones, in each zone there are four levels, the first three are run and gun until you reach the end. The fourth level you have to defeat a boss and claim its mask. That?s it. But it is packed full of action and it?s a pretty relentless shooter throughout the whole game.

Bionicle Heroes starts out simply enough and it never really gets complicated. In an effort to appease fans and keep kids interested in the game, Bionicle heroes never settles on one character or gameplay style for any extent of time. Instead, you're constantly switching environments, characters, and actions a delight for children. The variety is supposed to keep you from getting bored and it works quite well. You are constantly on the move figuring out which character to use next. You may have to walk across a patch of lava so at that instant you would select Jaller the fire hero. Oh ya to cycle threw your 6 characters all you have to do is either press the right or left bumper. Some obstacles won?t let you through until you build something, this is where Hewkii the constructer comes into play he can build certain mechanism to open doors ahead or to build a bridge buy using piles of Lego pieces found in the levels. Other characters can climb walls, jump far distances, snipe, cross water, etc. Throughout the levels you collect Lego pieces which are then used to upgrade you characters, armor and weapons. Lego pieces appear when you kill enemies or destroy objects in the world. It is not unusual to finish a level and have accumulated over 100 000 Legos.
The camera takes some time to get familiar with; it is over the shoulder?.a la Gears of War. But it feels very stiff you can only really target enemies using the left thumbstick, the problem with that is that it is the same thumbstick you use to walk, so it can be very frustrating sometimes. Actually the right thumbstick is used to look around but it feel stiff and confined you don?t have very much mobility. Because of this sometimes it is hard to see some enemies. They will sometimes creep up on you and start attacking while draining your health and you won?t even realize.
Now one thing that you can distinctively tell was included for kids was that shots that are fired automatically home in on the nearest bad guy, you can just keep your finger on the A button and fire without discretion, also you have unlimited ammo. You have to move the camera around somewhat so you can at least see the enemy but other then that it?s pretty much just a run and gun sort of title. The obstacles are the only thing that gives this game a bit more depth. This isn?t so bad if you are an 11 year old kid mind you. But for the rest of us I think the achievement (gamerscore) factor will be the biggest incentive to play threw the game unless you are a huge fan of the Bionicle.
The levels themselves are very linear and encourage little, if any, exploration. Each level has a number of canisters (gold and silver) to find but instead of offering players a choice of pathways, Bionicle presents these items as a trail of breadcrumbs that lead every player on an identical journey to the end of the level. Even items off the path can easily be seen and require just a few seconds of work to reach.
The boss fights will become very uninspiring, mainly because you defeat every single one of them the same way. A quick analysis of the patterns of the first boss you encounter and you will have no problem facing any other boss in the game which is really boring and repetitive. But the levels pack enough excitement to get over the boring boss fights.
Like I mentioned earlier if you are not a kid or a fan of the Bionicle (like me) one of the main reasons why you?ll enjoy this game so much is going to be that after every level you earn yourself 20 gamer points. The game has over 20 levels; one level takes approximately 15-20 minutes to beat. To beat the entire game it?s about 5 hours of your life spent adventuring into the Bionicle world, which isn?t so bad for 1000 gamer points. The other achievements are also very easy to accomplish. Now not everybody is an achievement whore like I am so you may find another reason why you would purchase this game but I can?t think of any.

Bionicle does a fair job in the visuals department with the nicely different worlds to explore. Most of this beauty can be seen in the jungle and the lava levels. There are plenty of enemies to fight around the environments and they are all pretty unique. The characters are a great port of the toys, yet the animations make the robots look very stiff but I guess they are made of metal. The special effects are pretty decent with the mix colors and some nice big explosions. The camera is somewhat of a problem until you get used to it, since you cannot take complete control of it. The camera gets annoying mostly when trying to target enemies. The framerates doesn?t slow down even when having many enemies on the screen at the same time. You can see all the characters individual pieces that they're composed of, that really connects the heroes to their LEGO origin.

The score is full of platform trademark tunes that alter with environment and mood of the gameplay it can change from frantic boss music to airy ballads of the forest. However, the score isn't all that remarkable in its composition and simply serves as a way to drown out the sound effects. While you will hear blasts from your guns and appropriate effects when your character gets hit by a blast, nothing really stands out. Most of the time you will hear the sound of LEGO pieces being collected; and trust me they are everywhere. Also the voice acting is very good mainly because there is none. None of the heroes say a word in this game; grunts and moans are all you are going to get out of them.

For all the eleven-year-olds whose lives revolve around the popular LEGO franchise, a game of good versus evil has been carefully crafted just for you. If you aren't eleven, and are daring enough to look past the clumsiness of this title, then you'll unearth a short, fast passed, relentless shooter with easy achievements. I have nothing against this game, I played threw the entire thing and I did not walk away feeling empty, probably due to the fact that my gamerscore is looking a lot better now hahaha.

Overall: 6.8 / 10
Gameplay: 6.8 / 10
Visuals: 6.4 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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