(Sung to the tune of the main Star Wars theme:) Dum dum dum daah, daah! Da da da daah daah! Da da da daah daah! Da da daah daah! It’s that time again – time for LEGO, Traveller’s Tales and Warner Bros to rub their palms together and see what tomfoolery they can conjure with their second release of the year.
Game Name: LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PS Vita, 3DS, PC
Publisher(s): Warner Bros
Developer(s): TT Games
Release Date: 6.28.2016
Price: £44.99 / $59.99
Reviewed on: Xbox One (review copy provided by publisher)
The Blocks, They’re Calling You, Just Let Them In…
Of all the games I review, the LEGO franchise is notably the most prolific in terms of their output. Some years are better than others (2014’s LEGO The Hobbit & 2016’s LEGO Marvel’s Avengers) and some years are mediocre (2015’s LEGO Jurassic World) but it’s always been apparent to me that TT’s quality never dips below that. There’s always enough meat on the bones; enough unlockables, gags, and puzzles to make the LEGO formula a winning one.
I’m relieved to say LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the most impressive LEGO game to date. From the minute you begin your adventure, you’re thrust into several varied game types that feel fresh and visually engaging. Whereas LEGO Marvel’s Avengers took hours to shake off the repetitive puzzle solving structure, The Force Awakens finds you immediately piloting an X-Wing fighter, taking on the Emperor in a boss battle, engaging an AT-AT in a Gears of War-style firefight – all the while discovering the events that took place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
The game doesn’t let up the pace during its fairly lengthy run time. The open-world hub (identical to that of LEGO Jurassic World) acts as a nice rest bite between the typically lengthy levels, which can clock in at anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour – depending on how good your puzzle solving abilities are.
Every character you can think of is present and playable in this title, from as new to the series as Kylo Ren to the archaic Admiral Ackbar. While the standard puzzle solving & character swapping in open spaces is still fairly tedious, the new firefight system and vibrant set pieces really typify Traveller’s Tales increase in quality over the past few years. In one moment, you’ll be speeding down a desert landscape as Rey avoiding obstacles as they come at you – the next, you’ll be piloting the Millennium Falcon through gorgeous landscapes in an on-the-rail-shooter set-up. The boss battles feel more considered here and rely on your ability to solve puzzles and engage in combat at the same time.
Graphically, the game has almost nowhere else to go in terms of improvements. I could only suggest they start to look at photorealism with their titles but that would definitely detract from the sense of fun and perhaps hinder sales with the younger target demographic. Comedy is still prevalent and continues to surprise me – drawing out decent slapstick gags and irreverent humor during scenarios you’d least expect it to.
Finally, what The Force Awakens lacks with its absent online play it more than makes up for with its two player ‘hop in/hop out’ Co-Op. I wish games like these existed when I was young with my sister; it’s ideal for bringing families together – which is particularly important during these seemingly more insular years for gamers.
I was skeptical of the movie version of The Force Awakens last year and came away from the cinema having loved it. Again, I was skeptical of this particular LEGO version and came away having loved it. If there’s any doubt in your mind that this one won’t deliver the iconic LEGO gameplay for your young ones then fear not– they’ve got it covered.
The Force has awakened within me... I think.
Overall, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens delivers more value for your money than any of the previous installments to date. The set pieces are bigger than ever and there’s far more varied content to keep you occupied rather than the repetitive puzzle solving formula. Easily my favourite of these ‘modern’ LEGO games.