Wow...that does look good. Is it the exact same as the Wii U in terms of what there is to do? I have that pre-ordered but...I kinda want this too. Hmm
It's a different game from the Wii U version, a prequel from what I gather. It appears to be the same city and world construct, it'll just have different missions and such. I have to say it looks like a fun game from a gameplay perspective. It also looks like more effort went into this game than any previous handheld Lego games since Lego Batman on PSP.
Though it's sad to see the game still suffering from some of the limitations of prior handheld Lego games. From what it seems, while they upgraded the Lego handheld engine to support a rudimentary form of open world, they're still using the handheld Lego game engine originally designed by TT Fusion (who are a sort of "B Team" at TT Games) for the Nintendo DS as a basis. They've opted to use this engine for all the handheld Lego games since Lego Indy 2 due to not wanting to bother porting the console version to the handhelds anymore (prior to Lego Indy 2, the PSP even got direct ports of the console version). While the engine has been upgraded somewhat, it's easy to see where it's showing its age. They did manage to implement an open world here, but unfortunately at the price of dense and close proximity fog in an attempt to cover up the poor draw distance. So while they upgraded it to support this open world style in a limited fashion, they didn't really go as far with it as they should have (there have been several Lego Wii games that have open worlds and don't have any fog).
Another technical limitation carried over from previous handheld games is the very small quantity of characters allowed onscreen. The Wii engine for reference (normal Wii, not even counting Wii U), like the PS3/360 games, supports quite literally hundreds of Lego people onscreen. The handheld engine on the other hand was originally designed with the DS' polygon limitations in mind, only allowing about 3-5 characters onscreen at any given time. Unfortunately even when they ported the engine to immensely more powerful hardware such as PSP, 3DS and even Vita, the onscreen character limitation didn't change. So while the characters look better quality compared to the DS games, the games still won't allow more than 3-5 onscreen at once. This is even less than the linear Lego games on last gen consoles. And one time, even the PSP versions of Lego Star Wars 2, Lego Indy 1 and Lego Batman were all ported directly from the console versions and handled by TT Games in person (supporting far more characters onscreen as well). This character limit makes a city that is supposed to appear large but very busy and full of life seem instead very desolate and almost deserted at times.
It's a shame that ever since Lego Indy 2, TT Games has handed off the handheld versions of the Lego series to their B Team TT Fusion. It's a funny thing because even the Wii versions of Lego games received direct ports of the other console versions. Wii versions even still retained the open worlds from the HD versions as well as supporting literally hundreds of characters onscreen at once (with only relatively minor graphical cutbacks, the core games remained intact).
Regardless though, this game looks pretty darn fun when you disregard the technical setbacks. And I don't even think there have been any games of this style for the 3DS yet, might be the first open world sandbox style game on the system.
NEVER judge a game you have not played. -Granville