Bionicle Heroes PS2 Review

Can the combination of Traveller’s Tales and Lego provide another hit? Building (pun intended) on the success of the Lego Star Wars brand, here is a similar explore and collect game set in Lego’s own sci-fi universe.

The basic plot of the game is that the evil Piraka have stolen the Mask of Life and turned the inhabitants of the island of Voya Nui into nasty creatures. You control the hero Toa Inika and can collect six different masks to provide yourself with special powers. You start off in the Enclave, from where you can choose a level, upgrade your robot and track your progress.

The game is viewed in a third-person perspective, from just behind the Toa’s shoulder. The left analogue stick moves the Toa and the right stick adjusts your aim. Pressing Cross fires a shot, with each of the six masks having a slightly different weapon. (Holding the button down will let you strafe around a targeted enemy). The radar shows you where the enemies are, along with the location of extra masks – which refill your energy and effectively give you up to six lives. A helpful arrow on the radar guides you towards the next section or exit.

Destroying the enemy and the scenery leaves behind a shower of Lego pieces, which can be collected and used for upgrades in the same way as the Studs in Lego Star Wars. You can upgrade the weapon and armour of each robot, and then buy an extra ability for each one to help in certain places. Often you will need to build the rubble or move a piece to progress. This includes the construction of vehicles, leading to simple on-rails shooting sections which add a little variety. There are also bonus areas to unlock, including the Piraka Playground.

Collect a lot of Lego pieces and your Tao will turn gold and you’ll enter hero mode. This allows you to build Golden Bionicles who will help unlock new pathways and sections of the level. Just as in that other Lego game (I promise not to mention it any more) there are boss battles, where the aim is to reduce the energy level and break the boss into bits…

There is longevity in the form of gold and silver canisters to collect in each level, giving an incentive to return. And unlocking other characters (most notably the Piraka) will reveal new sections in old levels. There is also a sense of humour – from the cowering T’s of the Traveller’s Tales logo in the intro, to the funny cutscenes between levels. The bad guys have an overconfident swagger, only to collapse to bits or fall over in a clumsy pratfall. Graphics are very smooth and do a good job of conveying the different regions of the island. There are some nice touches like the golden glow of Hero Mode. Sound is adequate, from the heroic soundtrack to the sound effects.

However, there are some flaws, like the auto-aim (shown as a green beam from your robot’s eyes). Quite often you will find yourself trapped between enemies, taking damage until you can manoeuvre out of trouble. Whilst the puzzles will not delay you for long, as they are signposted with which button you need to press (Triangle to change to a particular mask, then Circle to interact). Boss battles are meanwhile repetitive, often requiring you to collect a lot of pieces to transform into Hero Mode several times. And finally the level design is nothing special, drawing on familiar settings like jungle, desert and beach.

Ultimately, two things will define the enjoyment you get out of this game – how much you love the Bionicle franchise, and how patient you are with the controls. With 25 levels to play through and hidden extras to discover, there is a fair bit of game here for your money. It never hits the heights of the other Lego franchise, but if you enjoyed those two games you will enjoy this. All in all it’s a solid title that should do well with the younger audience it is aimed at. It will be interesting to see how the game translates to the Nintendo Wii (due to be released at Easter) and if there are more Bionicle titles in the future.