The original Lego Star Wars game is widely regarded as one of the best, but as Lego titles have moved on in recent years, how will Lego Star Wars : The Force Awakens fare.
Over the last 10 years, the Telltale Lego titles have gradually changed, providing a greater range of puzzle’s, grander set-pieces and more of an open world feeling, some games have worked wonders incorporating a vast open world with an interesting universe and a deep storyline packed with involving puzzles, others haven’t quite hit the mark in all areas, but for me Lego Star Wars : The Force Awakens (TFA from here on in) doesn’t just check all the boxes, it improves in a few areas too.
Firstly rather than starting in line with the latest film, TFA begins with the final events from Episode 6, a tutorial of sorts that feels familiar to Lego or Star Wars fans, but presented well enough to introduce new players both to the Lego way, and the Star-Wars story.
The inevitable Star Wars humor is immediately present, and after completing this first section there’s the familiar sight of watching what you’ve unlocked as well as statistics for number of kits found (to unlock extra vehicles) and any special red bricks.
By the time you start on the new Force Awakens content you’ll already have had a brief teaser of two of the new systems in place for TFA. Lego Batman brought us suits, but Star Wars brings two things which certainly move the Lego Franchise in an exciting direction.
Firstly building structures and items out of rubble has changed slightly, you’ll now need to hold a direction as you build, depending on which direction you chose the character will build something different, these will sometimes offer an alternate path, while others you’ll need to use one, then knock it down to rebuild the other.
It’s always worth trying all options as extra’s such as minikit’s and red bricks are often concealed behind one of the alternate routes.
The second new addition is the ‘blaster battle’ the camera drops smoothly behind your character as you drop into cover, there’s a group of enemies and in true gears of war style, you have to pop out of cover and dispatch the enemies one by one, as you’d expect it’s somewhat simplistic compared to Gears however it’s integrated perfectly, doesn’t feel out of place and offers a welcome new approach which I hope to see used in future titles.
Progressing on you’ll loosely follow the storyline from the film, and while 99% of the details are in place there’s plenty of extra little bits which not only flesh out the story over the 8-9 hours campaign, but they add to the story and even fill in a few gaps.
Characters range from a handful from the original trilogy to just about everyone you can think of from the new film and being a Lego game you can be sure there’s plenty to choose from with over 200 in total, while you have a few expected re-skins, most feel unique, especially those you control through the main storyline. There’s plenty of extra’s too and more than enough puzzles making it worthwhile retreading your steps with unlocked characters to discover and collect the insurmountable number of secrets and unlocks, second characters feel more valued and most puzzles give everyone an important task.
Another highlight is the sheer amount of lego studs, it might sound like a minor detail but breaking your surroundings will now wield literally dozens of lego studs rather than a mere handful and this makes it feel like a much more rewarding exercise and that’s just the surface of the minor improvements, Loading screens now see a mini Lego world built of your current location while you wait.
There’s also the small matter of taking to the skies, with gameplay that would be perfectly suited to Rogue Squadron or even Battlefield, it’s as satisfying as ever to be behind the controls of a X-Wing, Tie-Fighter or the Millennium Falcon.
Graphically TFA has to be the best looking Lego title to date, not only on the Xbox One version (reviewed) but even the Xbox 360 version looks impressive compared to past titles.
Characters are exactly as you’d imagine a Lego version to be, and everything is sharp, colourful and detailed making every new character or location worthy of a closer inspection, there’s a massive selection of locations from the film and there’s more than enough effects to make things feel much more a Star Wars title than just a Lego adaptation.
The map & character select screen could have looked a little better but these really are minor issues when everything else looks so good,
Thankfully the audio is just as impressive, from the massive soundtrack to voice acting by the true film actors it all feels authentic, and packed with accurate effects and sounds from the Star Wars universe, the squeal of a Tie-Fighter, the huskiness of Harrison Ford / Han Solo’s voice and the whir of the energy bolt frozen by Kylo Ren in an early scene not only fit the on screen action perfectly, but they prove how well the developers have portrayed the feeling and atmosphere of the film.
Obviously Lego Star Wars will appeal to younger gamers, and for years, I’ve been succesfully blaming my Twin boys and step-son for the reason I’m playing Lego Movie, but this is far more than just a Lego game, anyone who’s a fan of Star Wars should get their hands on TFA because it’s not only a fantastic representation of one of the best Star Wars films yet, it’s also a fun and interesting game that’s sure to be a hit regardless of your age or gaming experience.
It’s all a very positive mix, everything looks, sounds and feels like a Star Wars title, and while Lego sometimes seems to be overshadowed by the Star Wars universe, there’s that constant humor which makes even the darkest moments seem fun without losing emotion. Obviously there are some bad points, as I mentioned before the character select screen and menu’s look a little under-par, some of the hubs feels somewhat underwhelming and some felt the film positioned itself a little too close to the original, and so it’s Lego adaptation will also feel familiar overall, although the new puzzles, locking mechanics, character abilities and content do go a long way to keeping things fresh.