This console cycle, to play a Lego game has been to experience just how much a series can grow from a platformer to an open-world.
In the beginning, the Lego games played on rails. Star Wars let you fight Darth Vader, rescue Princess Leia, and trench run yourself to victory just like movie. It set the tone that Lego games were going for a fun, silly, and linear experience.
But when Harry Potter came out, Lego games cracked open the experience a bit. You could ignore the main missions temporarily and do a little exploring instead. For instance, Hogwarts was filled with characters to unlock, small puzzles to solve, and weird encounters to laugh at outside of the storyline.
Once we got to Lord of the Rings and Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Lego games showed real open-world maturity.
Middle Earth became a sandbox where you could take in the sights and activities. You could explore a lot of the set pieces from the movie freely, and even craft weapons. In Batman 2, Gotham was wide open. Drive, brawl, fly, hunt down super villains, do whatever. Messing around in Gotham added hours of fun to the game independent of the storyline.
To go from platformer to open-world is a real feat, and it is hard to come by another example of a franchise that has evolved so much this console cycle.
That's why I think Lego games are a last-gen hero.
Last-Gen Heroes is Kotaku's look back at the seventh generation of console gaming. In the weeks leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, we'll be celebrating the Heroes—and the Zeroes—of the last eight years of console video gaming. More details can be found here; follow along with the series here. You can follow the author of this post on Twitter @marshnaylor