*cue Star Wars theme*
A short time ago, in a not so distant galaxy, a developing company named TT Games decided to expand their Star Wars video game universe. Hoping to capitalize on the recent success of The Force Awakens blockbuster film, they’ve transferred all the action into the trademark LEGO blocks for a fifth major adaptation from the Star Wars franchise. Could LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens be one brick based construction too many for a market quite saturated with LEGO games, or have TT Games built a masterpiece to be admired?
For those uninitiated with the ways of a LEGO game, smashing up anything in sight is of utmost importance. You’ll literally be going around breaking stuff to unearth the LEGO currency, studs, and possibly some parts to build a useful item. Although the very nature of this core gameplay is very simplistic, it’s the ideal objective for the young target audience; let’s face it, grown-ups aren’t going to turn their nose up at the utter destruction that can be caused either. We’ve all got a dark side to satisfy!
I’m not entirely sure on the cooling off period for spoilers, but you should be aware that this game will reveal a lot of the main plot points from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie throughout its many chapters, and even a spot of gameplay centred on the climax of Return of the Jedi. There are twelve chapters to discover in the story mode, including both the prologue and epilogue, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it could get boring just wandering around areas bashing X to hit stuff. Fortunately, it’s far from it.
Throughout the entire story there are plenty of different things that can help alleviate the perceived monotony and some of these involve flying. Yes, you can get into the cockpit of TIE fighters, X-wing fighters and, wait for it… the Millennium Falcon. Most of the flying sections will see you zooming around arena style areas shooting multiple targets, both moving and stationary. Enemies are by no means sitting ducks; instead they will be chasing you and your comrades, which makes it an exciting little battle. These spacecrafts’ movements aren’t going to be anywhere near the accuracy seen in the Battlefront aerial combat modes, but they are decent enough to provide suitably entertaining rides for sure.
Another of the refreshing additions to the LEGO series are the Multi-Builds which allow for certain important builds to be deconstructed for the bricks to then be re-used. Having to consider what to build first from a choice of two or three designs is a puzzle within itself; sometimes they must be built in a specific order to be of any use to the predicament at hand.
But hold on, there’s another new gameplay feature. Blaster Battles consist of getting into position behind cover and popping out at opportune times to pick off a few Stormtroopers. You can’t stand shooting all the time as the video game Stormtroopers have a far higher accuracy than those in the films. Once more, you can’t expect Gears of War shooting mechanics, but they do the job pretty darn well.
As always, there are boss battles too and these will require a certain amount of patience to wait for the right moment to strike. For example, going in whilst Kylo Ren is swinging his sabre only sees your character’s health deplete, but like all bad guys do, he’ll leave himself open for a swift attack eventually. It could become a bit of a pain on the rare occasion the battle didn’t flow as the game had planned… I had to stay still at one point to ensure I could be perfectly placed to counter an attack.
When all is said and done, replayability and longevity is what we desire from games to ensure we get our money’s worth. Once the story mode is over, it’s time to collect all the Gold Bricks by completing Scavenger, Resistance, First Order and simple racing missions. There are lots of ways to earn them and now there’s a genuine reason to do it for the non-completionists. Extra levels!
Gaining Gold Bricks in the main missions and finding them in free-roam areas like Jakku, Starkiller Base and Takodana, will unlock bonus levels to play. Rathtar Hunting is one of the earliest unlockable levels, focussing on how Han and Chewie found those vicious Rathtars in the first place. Squeezing out another bonus level here and there is an excellent incentive to try clean up on the Gold Brick front.
So, the gameplay itself has been given a breath of fresh air with the innovative ideas included, but what about creating an authentic environment to accompany it? Well, you will feel a part of the Star Wars world thanks to the brilliantly on-point musical score which encapsulates various moments perfectly. Couple that with the many different locations and worlds visited such as Endor, Maz’s Castle and D’Qar, and you’re in for a real treat. Dare I say, the audio transferred directly from the film sounds far more of a natural fit in this game than other LEGO games seen previously; I’m looking at you Jurassic World.
A massive roster of characters, spanning multiple eras and serving many different purposes, truly blows me away. Fans of the Star Wars film series, current or old school will be able to appreciate the likes of Darth Vader, Admiral Ackbar and Unkar Plutt, to name just a few of the 200+ included. TT Games have even made it easier to tell what each character’s ability is, so there’s no chance of wasting Studs on an Ewok when BB-8 can crawl through hatches.
I wish I could’ve gone the whole review without any sort of issues, but I can’t. There are a couple of bugs, one of which prevented me from finishing a bonus level but there are workarounds. The map is a little too basic for me, with it failing to explain what each icon, lacking the ability to zoom in and the face you never know if it’s set a waypoint until you exit the map. Last but not least are the sometimes confusing sections, where it’s not clear enough how to progress to the next part, if I’m struggling to figure it out then children are going to be throwing tantrums in frustration.
With all the new features and ideas, surely something has to give and let it down… it really doesn’t though, aside from the minor issues listed, because overall they’ve addressed one of the main potential negatives, repetitiveness. Having played a vast amount of LEGO games, I must stress LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is right up there tussling for top spot, especially on the longevity front. There are literally hours and hours of enjoyment to be had, with it rarely becoming a chore to go for all the collectables.
The overload on LEGO games being released was beginning to push me towards the dark side, but TT Games have re-ignited the light side of the Force within. I have awoken, had a bloody great time and now I’m off to bake some Wookie cookies.
Buy it you must.