A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… there was a brief era where Lego Star Wars was a yearly tradition gracing consoles and handhelds everywhere. Now after five long years Star Wars is back. The Force Awakens was exactly what we needed; reassurance that Star Wars is still relevant. What we now want is proof that the video game version can hold up just as well. Can lightning strike twice for the beloved saga?
Unlike the console iteration, you begin with Poe Dameron receiving his mission instructions to head to the planet Jakku where an old ally is waiting. From here on out the story runs similar to the movie except we get more fleshed out scenes expanding on our knowledge of the events that happened. This is all told in the charming Lego style that we’ve come to love over the years. There is also a chance to play unseen events explaining certain situations like how Han and Chewie snagged Rathtars. Bonus!
New to the Lego world are shooting segments that see’s you hide behind cover, before ducking out to take down unaware Stormtroopers. With the series primarily aimed at younger audiences, I thought what an inventive introduction to the shooting genre. Instead of throwing kids into Call of Duty they now have their own blood free version to play with; though the mechanics are more in line with Gear’s of Wars then anything. Other sections include using Rey to climb in an Uncharted like fashion and lively space fights in X-Wings that are smooth to control with the 3DS. Then to top it off you have a running section reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot. There is tremendous variety here even if it is only surface level.
All this with the normal amount of traditional Lego puzzles we’ve come to expect; Sad that these become more of a chore as you progress. Simple repetitive chores like moving Rey’s binoculars to identify a hidden mark or using a terminal to pick the correct uniform to unlock an entrance. These features became too easy too soon. I even had a couple of occasions where I started a puzzle with no input needed to complete. Again I realise this is aimed at a younger gamer, but give kids credit there smarter than they look.
The Lego graphic has always looked appealing from generation to generation, though on the 3DS there are obvious downgraded visuals from what you would find on the Wii U. For what it’s worth it still manages to hold up rather well. Saying that with all the great animation shown I would much rather experience the adventure on a wide-screen TV. Everything about TFA drives to bigger and better.
A clear stand out for me though is the voice acting. Whether it’s Finn, Rey, Han, Leia, Poe, C-3PO, Kylo Ren, General Hux, Captain Phasma, Snoke, Maz or even the angry Scot Bala-Tik they all sound incredible. Seriously it’s indistinguishable between the stand in and real actors, considering the noticeable difference in Lego: Marvel Avengers this is a huge step up in quality. The only gripe I had was with unknown side characters that would repeat the same line over and over. For instance whilst waiting for the First Order to land on Jakku, Poe must help the villagers prepare by setting up weapons. During this escapade there is a heap of explosions and loud noises causing the villagers to panic, screaming until they pass out (not literally). Anyway running back and forth you will constantly hear the same irritating shrieks until you finish this section. I understand it’s used to raise the tension, however all it did was make me lower the volume.
JJ Abrams wrote a love letter to the fan’s with TFA. WB Games have re-imagined his beautiful vision with the humorous yellow bricks taking centre stage and it’s perfect. Scenes from the film are portrayed in their goofy style making each one thrilling. There has been some gentle care with this release as the amount of fan material present is phenomenal. With 200 characters to unlock from FN-2199 to Admiral Ackbar you’d be mad to miss out (Of course JJ makes an appearance too!). Loading screens are filled with neat Easter eggs as you wait. The negative to this is loading screens are quite common and you could end up going through 3 before you jump in to a mission.
Co-op is always at its strongest with Lego titles making some truly memorable moments. TFA want’s you to experience these moments with friends or family, so if you can I’d always recommend playing with a partner. This is especially true with the amount of replayable content available. If you’re paying attention, early on you’ll notice there are a lot of puzzles inaccessible until you complete the game. Revisiting levels to grab all those hidden goodies can seem treacherous to some, making any Wookie mad, yet here with the abundance of characters available it’s hard to resist collecting everything.
Naysayers voice that Lego is going stale. Going by TFA this is far from the truth as with shooting, climbing, running and space flight mechanics all present, the series seem’s only on the ascend. Yes some puzzles are too easy and loading screens are too apparent, still these discrepancies are overshadowed by the constant innocent fun that is at the heart of all Lego. The only real negative I can give is that if you have the choice, pick the console version; Bigger is better. Overall though, for hardcore fans JJ Abrams delivered us the Star Wars movie experience we all wanted, WB have now given us this in video game form.
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