It’s time to relive possibly the most well known (in parts at least) sci-fi saga all over again. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga ties together all nine films from the main series together for the very first time. We all have our favourites of course (it’s The Empire Strikes Back for me) but you can choose which trilogy you would like to kick off with, instead of being forced to start at the very beginning.
The episode selection screen is rather adorable thanks to the dioramas which represent each chapter in the saga. I found myself stopping for a few seconds just to admire the care and attention that had gone into these animations, and allow my excitement to build for what was to come.
As I mostly opt for logic and order in my life above all else, I decided to begin with the somewhat divisive prequel trilogy, namely Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Episode 1). From the get go the LEGO franchise’s cheeky sense of humour is front and centre, providing short, sharp and often subtle comedy moments whilst remaining utterly faithful to the original narrative.
Moments such as Palpatine’s attempts at concealing his role as a double agent, which sees him literally eating popcorn as his plan unfolds, is an example of the comic genius at work here. Breakdancing AT-STs and stormtroopers relaxing in a hot tub are some other stand out moments amongst a flurry of gags and quips that tickle the funny bones at every turn.
Something else which struck me almost immediately, is just how good LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga looks. We all know the world is made of LEGO, but it’s brought to life here better than it ever has been before. You can clearly identify that the characters are made from plastic (the shine of the Rancor for example), along with small details such as the stitching of their capes staying true to the real life counterparts. Even effects such as liquids consisting of the small circular LEGO pieces are guaranteed to have those familiar with the world famous building blocks beaming from ear to ear.
The optimisation for Xbox Series X|S is well implemented, and overall the game runs smoothly given there is a lot going on at certain points. I did experience the odd glitch, such as my character walking on the spot when its path to a switch was blocked by LEGO shrapnel. Also, the camera would sometimes zoom in too close which effectively resulted in my little brick person disappearing off screen and this meant it took a few seconds to figure out where they were.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga also sounds fantastic, thanks to the magic of John Williams and each film’s original soundtrack. However, the biggest shift here is the fact that voice acting in the game is fully implemented. Not only this, but some of the original actors are featured, providing yet another layer of authenticity to the game. This really adds to the blockbuster feeling of the experience, and shows just how hard TT Games have worked to deliver on their commitment of this being the biggest and best LEGO game to date.
Another way the team achieved this is through content. There are more than 300 playable characters from across the Star Wars universe, each with their unique traits and personalities faithfully represented. Not only this, but more than 100 vehicles can be piloted in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. All of the unlockables are categorised so you can navigate them easily, for example your characters will have a class such as “Jedi”, “Bounty Hunter”, “Villain” etc. You can then choose from several upgrades by class, or apply more general improvements which affect all characters.
A real sense of scale is achieved in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga through the level design, which encourages and rewards exploration. The main thing you’ll be searching for are Kyber Bricks, which you can spend on upgrades. There are well over 1000 of these to find in the game, so you’ll be kept busy. You’ll obtain them in numerous ways, from simply exploring, to solving puzzles and even blasting apart meteors which house them at their core.
Alongside Kyber Bricks you’ll be hunting down Mini-Kits, vehicle parts, Datacards and more general studs which are the in-game currency. You’ll amass these in their thousands simply for smashing stuff up, as well as being a little more creative. Datacards are more elusive, but when collected allow you to purchase in-game extras with your studs. These are truly fantastic fun and include the option to have weapons randomly replaced with silly objects, turn areas into a rave complete with remixed music or even spawn a little Porg companion who will assist you in battle. This last one is my absolute favourite due to the irrefutable fact that the little birds are the best thing about the newest trilogy. Hands down.
There’s an awful lot to do and find away from the main story, including side missions. Thankfully, you can easily track completion of all your progress on your holoprojector. This is your virtual information hub, which also includes a handy map of individual areas as well as the vast regions of space. You can review your objectives here too, as well as buy hints for finding unlockables, review in game tutorials and loads more. It’s all pretty well organised, however the only minor faff I found was switching characters into your party. It sometimes feels as if you need to select the character you want several times before they will successfully swap in. As I say it’s minor, but felt clunky at times.
The exploration side of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is mostly brought to life in hub areas which you will discover as you progress through the game. These are set out in an open world fashion, but do contain parts which can only be accessed by certain characters with specific abilities. Although obtaining collectibles is usually pretty simple, there are many creative and charming puzzles or sequences that are here for the player to discover.
Hacking terminals is a frequent skill required of you, and different classes mean you will face varying mini-games in order to do so successfully. There are also races to get stuck into, puzzles to solve and other one-offs such as a game of whack-a-mole to keep you entertained.
You are also able to explore space itself, namely the different planetary systems from the films. You may stumble across battles, encounter bounty hunters or find allies who require assistance. There’s a fair amount to do in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and you’ll often get distracted from the campaign. In a good way.
The story driven missions are more linear, and also consist of several opportunities to collect Kyber Bricks. Once completed, you will unlock “Free Play” mode meaning you can revisit the mission with any characters you like, and once again you will need specific individuals to unlock everything.
As a result you can choose to blast through the main missions pretty quickly if you like, meaning each episode will only take you a couple of hours or so. However, you would be missing so much by doing so. The open world areas are well designed, and encourage you to revisit numerous times when you have what you need to access new areas. If you play LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga as it is intended, there is a deep, authentic experience on offer for players that will span many, many hours.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Star Wars without combat. This is where LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has taken another leap forward. You’ll engage your enemies in three main ways: either via a shoot out, lightsaber battle or aerial dogfight. The gunplay is great fun, and you now have the ability to manually aim as well as lock on to others. You can also dive behind cover and depending on where you land a shot, your opponent will react accordingly. Making stormtroopers hop around on one leg is a favourite pastime of mine.
You will also have plenty of opportunities to pilot spacecraft and spar with enemy pilots, as well as some of the series’ larger craft. These segments of play are a great change of pace and do a brilliant job of recreating those epic space battles from the films.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the lightsaber duels are the most enjoyable encounters, and are often with boss characters. These cinematic sequences play out across several phases which echo the on-screen versions, and correspond to your enemy’s health bar. You can swing your lightsaber in the standard fashion, spin it to block incoming bullets, throw it at your enemy and lock blades in quick time events that will usually require you to bash a certain button. It’s brilliant.
Of course, you can duff up your enemies the old fashioned way for the most part with hand to hand combat if you wish. Stringing together combos will fill the meter and reward you with studs, and each character flaunts their own personality through their moveset. You can even use mounts at certain points in the campaign (such as on Hoth) and dispatch foes in a more direct way.
Unfortunately, there is no online co-op, however local multiplayer is a smooth affair. A second player can drop in or out at any time to assist and because you’ll have several characters in your party when playing solo anyway, the gameplay flows uninterrupted. For example, some doors will require two switches to be pulled at the same time which is easy in co-op, but requires you to position both characters in single player mode.
There’s a lot to get stuck into with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, but truth be told it’s a fairly easy game. There’s no great difficulty to the missions and the puzzles are fairly self explanatory, along with there being no real threat of death. It’s certainly a task to find absolutely everything in the game, however it’s clear the main purpose is to provide a thoroughly faithful and enjoyable Star Wars experience for players. Mission accomplished.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga oozes the feel good factor. It’s a comprehensively charming and loving tribute to the source material that also happens to be the biggest and best LEGO game to date.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is available on the Xbox Store