Sean goes back the world of LEGO, one that he knows, loves and demands a lot from, to look at the newest entry – LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
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A long time ago with a pun now so heavily overused, Star Wars became a LEGO toy and made the leap to a virtual setting in LEGO Star Wars. That was in 2005, eleven years ago… Man I feel old. And since then TT Games have managed to impart their kooky humour to many a franchise with a very high success rate, it has to be said.
This is in fact the fourth LEGO Star Wars game (the fifth if you count The Complete Saga as a separate release) and that’s not to say that it’s getting stale, w e are all aware now that the formulaic style of the LEGO games is what keeps it consistently enjoyable, but it is a great point to ask the developers to grow their game, much like the Star Wars franchise has again creatively, post- George Lucas.
The one thing with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens that you can absolutely rely on is a load of content. Whilst this is based on The Force Awakens movie, there’s a good selection of bonus missions that give some background to the events of the story, like Poe Dameron’s heroics and how Han Solo got those Rathtars, and even an introductory mission from Endor, recapping where we left the Star Wars universe previously.
The game’s mechanics have changed slightly too. You still have the requirement of several characters, each with their own traits like Chewbacca’s bombs, Han with a grapple hook gun and things that need cutting open with lightsabres. But we now have the “multibuild” puzzles where you have a selection of objects to build in order to resolve a situation. Sometimes you need to do things in the right order. Sometimes the choice is frivolous. Occasionally, you’ll need to build a certain choice in order to get a minikit. It’s an interesting take on the standard “build this thing” style of LEGO games but more on that later.
Graphically, the game looks tremendous, although I did get some frame lag at the rebel base as the wealth of unlockable gold bricks struggled to load in. One thing that this game has on top of any previous LEGO Star Wars games is that feeling of speed in the vehicle battles. In fact, it feels like it’s taken a cue from Battlefront, with big areas to battle targets ranging from transports to TIE Fighters and turrets on Star Destroyers. You also get interesting trench style battles from the movies, which really impart the feeling of breakneck action you get in the cockpit of an X-Wing.
One thing I’ve faulted many LEGO games on is the insistence of using a hub system that, unless you totally understand the franchise the game is set in, makes no sense and feels far too spaced out. On one side of the world you’ll have somewhere where you buy your Red Bricks, on the other side is where you view minikits but you have to traverse that manually, and that’s frustrating . The galaxy map gives you an easy route, it shows you these hub planets where you can start missions and will also allow you to quickly replay any part of the game. You can also unlock your extras like the Red Bricks without having to visit a vendor. It has to be said there has been an all round improvement.
So what’s not to like? It’s Star Wars, it’s funny, it has original cast dialogue from the movie and in the bonus missions as well, and it has evolved from its previous incarnations. In fact this is quite possibly one of the funniest games that TT have done given the dialogue along with the visual cues. So there’s nothing wrong, right? Well, there are a few things.
Firstly, I would have liked to have had some more progressive difficulty in the puzzles. The multibuild is fun but it is essentially a choice, not a puzzle in itself. It would have been nice to add a little more challenge to that. The droids, the First Order and Rebel computer terminals all have an incredibly easily solve puzzle. It’s very easy and never changes at all. The wealth of unlockable characters appear to be, much like most of the Star Wars universe, made of characters you’ve never heard of or were invented for the game. So you don’t really care about them. 25% of those characters are all droids. I’d much rather have a bigger challenge in the game to get a single character I really wanted than just studs for a load of run down protocol droids.
The bonus missions are great, as is the original dialogue but they all have elements that, lets say, are pastiches or homage’s to previous parts of Star Wars. The level with Captain Phasma looking for “plans” is essentially the first part of A New Hope. It’s knowingly done of course but I would have just liked a bit more out of the level design rather than going over old elements.
I may be a bit weird in how I rate the LEGO Games. LEGO Dimensions is a great game and now a big focus for continued franchises and figures. The Harry Potter games are my favorite LEGO games because I felt they are the only ones that actually did anything different with the controls and puzzles, although The Lord of the Rings LEGO game had a brilliant open world. So where does this game sit? It actually sits quite highly, but I would probably have waited for a bit more original content, maybe from new movies, just to fill it out a bit more, and some further evolution in the puzzles.
Oh and PLEASE let us skip the introduction to the levels. Not every single level needs to start with the theme and a scrolling text that you can’t skip. Just stop. Please. Thank you.
Other than that, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a great game, and if you’ve played The Complete Saga recently you’ll know that that game does feel like it’s eleven years old and a bit dated. So if you’re looking for something new and something Star Wars, this might be the trick for you.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Loads of content with a excellent Galaxy map hub
- New puzzles evolve the game
- Great graphics with lots of speed in the flight combat sections
- Still feels like it could do more with puzzles
- Multibuild is fun but not really a puzzle
- Unlockable Characters line up feels weak