Title: Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Format: PS4 (reviewed), PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita
Release Date: 28th June, 2016
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Review by John
Has it really been 11 years (and two console generations) since the original Lego Star Wars game?
At first, I thought it sounded a terrible idea, especially as it was based on the distinctly underwhelming prequel trilogy. But how wrong I was, and it wasn’t long until I was hooked – and the cut scenes even managed to make the storylines of those much maligned movies entertaining.
Since then, with the odd misstep (most notably the dull “Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars” and the criminally unfinished “Lego The Hobbit” (which for some unfathomable reason ended the story at the climax of The Desolation of Smaug and never got round to providing the rumoured Battle Of The Five Armies DLC), the series has gone from strength to strength, including the inevitable Original Trilogy based “Lego Star Wars II” (and the “Complete Saga” on PS3 and 360), Harry Potter (split over two games), Lord Of The Rings, the three Lego Batman games (expanded in the two sequels to include the expanded DC Universe), two Marvel based adventures and the awesome “Lego Jurassic World” (who can honestly say the prospect of controlling a Lego T-Rex is not an appealing one?)
Now , hot on the heels of last year’s Episode VII comes “Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. And it’s a real shot in the arm for the Lego games franchise.
The overall gameplay will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the previous Lego games. Work your way through the levels. Smashing anything that can be smashed, collectng studs (essential to allow you to buy the additional characters and Red”Cheat” Bricks that you unlock), and build various structures to help you progress. But in addition to this, there are a couple of new features here and, fortunately, both are well implemented and add to the overall experience.
Firstly, there are the new “multi builds”. In previous games, you were required to build various Lego objects throughout the game to help you make your way through the levels. Well now, there are, in most instances, a few different ways of building these, often requiring you to break and rebuild in different places to solve the game’s puzzles. And then there are the “Blaster Battles”, where your character takes cover and you have to target and destroy various enemies and vehicles to progress.
Apart from these additions, it generally adheres to the establish Lego Formula. Taking place over 12 levels, it perfectly recreates the storyline of the movie (although the prologue level is based around the end of “Return Of The Jedi”, covering the Battle Of Endor, the final confrontation between Luke, Vader and the Emperor and the assault on the Death Star), with the usual perfect addition of that by now familiar Lego humour.
Levels are of a fairly decent size, with each being split into three separate parts, some of which blend both character based and vehicle levels. Overall, story mode will probably take you around 8 hours to work through. But that only scratches the surface.As you would expect, there is a huge array of characters (over 200) to be unlocked, many with their own unique abilities which, when replaying the levels on “Free Play” mode, allow you to discover all the secrets that are waiting to be found (including the now customary hunt for ten “Minikit” pieces per level, which build towards the 80+ vehicles that are available).
As well as replaying the “Free Play” levels, the game also (again, in keeping with the later Lego games) offers a number of “Hub” worlds to be explored, with puzzles to solve and missions to undertake (including Bounty Hunter and Scavenger Missions) all in the pursuit of the games valuable currency – the “Gold Bricks”. With 250 in total to collect, it’s going to take you a while.And, as an added incentive, the more gold bricks you collect, the more the game has to offer, in the shape of 6 bonus missions, each unlocked upon attainment of a set number of gold bricks, providing storylines set prior to the movie, including, among others, Poe Dameron coming to the rescue of Admiral Ackbar (who points out that it had better not be a trap!) and Han Solo hunting the Rathtars seen in the movie. As with the normal story levels, these contain the requisite mini kits and red bricks to be found, with free play unlocked upon first play through.
Overall, there is so much on offer here, and you certainly get more than your money’s worth in terms of how much you get out of it. 100% completion clocked in (for me, at least) at just shy of 31 hours total playing time. But that’s not all. The season pass (£7.99 for PS4 but included with the deluxe edition) offers a further 4 levels to keep you going with the first (the forthcoming “The Phantom Limb”) promising to provide the story behind C3PO’s new arm. Obviously, at the time of writing, I can’t comment on the quality or length of these, but, as far as I’m concerned, more Lego Star Wars is no bad thing!
The game is not without it’s niggles. Flying levels can be frustrating at times (although nowhere near the almost game breaking frustration of the original “Lego Marvel Superheroes”), especially when it comes to finding out how to earn the minikits, which can be incredibly hit and miss, and the game did crash on me at least twice during my play through. But that’s mere nitpicking.
Hardcore gamers may turn up their noses, proclaiming “but those games are for kids, surely”. To which I say “Hush. And don’t call me Shirley”.
For me, video games have always been about having fun. And there are few things quite as much fun as the Lego Games, of which this is possibly one of the best yet.