"LEGO Star Wars is not an easy game to describe with words. I can remember reading a few reviews for the LEGO games that have popped up in the last few years, and from them, all I understood was that the game was funny. I can even remember walking up to an in store demo of LEGO Star Wars, and not having the faintest clue what to do. I bought this game at bargain bin price, not knowing what to expect, except for a few laughs. "
LEGO Star Wars is not an easy game to describe with words. I can remember reading a few reviews for the LEGO games that have popped up in the last few years, and from them, all I understood was that the game was funny. I can even remember walking up to an in store demo of LEGO Star Wars, and not having the faintest clue what to do. I bought this game at bargain bin price, not knowing what to expect, except for a few laughs.
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a combination of the two LEGO Star Wars games. The first game covered the prequel trilogy, while the second game covered the original trilogy. LEGO Star Wars appeared around the end of the previous console generation, and, from what I have heard, this is no simple port. The game has been updated and some of the mechanics have been changed. I'm not sure of the extent of this, though, having not played the original, but the original Podracing sequence from the first game is included as a bonus unlockable mission, and it is very different to the one presented in this game - and not good different. This package of both games makes me glad I waited. I'd have been annoyed if I'd purchased LEGO Star Wars II a while back - and believe me, I was close to doing so.
Because the humour seems to overshadow the rest of the game in everyone's eyes, I'm going to get it out of the way right here, right now. Is this game funny? I don't recall laughing out loud at it, but it brought a few quiet chuckles and some grins. This is mostly due to the tongue-in-cheek way it approaches the source material. It doesn't take anything seriously. Dramatic moments from the films are made fun of. One of the funniest moments was when Luke is given his father's lightsaber, and he accidentally chops C-3PO's head off with it. There's no dialogue in the many cut scenes that frame each level. All these scenes are mimed, or acted out with grunts and visual gags. It's oddly fitting, because LEGO people can't talk.
There isn't much humour in the game itself, apart from some of the achievements. You'll get 20 points for the "Crowd Pleaser" achievement, which requires you to kill Jar Jar Binks twenty times. There's also a "Shoot First" achievement regarding Greedo and Han Solo. Star Wars fans with a sense of humour (i.e. the ones who don't sit around on forums arguing over everything) will probably get a kick out of some of the tasks this game has for them.
What I appreciated more than the humour was the nostalgic factor. I loved playing with LEGO as a child. Even as an adult, I still find myself drawn to it from time to time. I also love Star Wars. This was a game designed for me, and the many other people of my generation, and perhaps a generation above and below me as well. The environments are bright and colourful. The LEGO looks more realistic than the real thing. The characters move with a little more fluidity than their plastic counterparts. LEGO never looked this good - there's no hand in the way of a flying spacecraft like there was when you were a kid.
And since this game isn't easy to describe with words, you should pay attention, because I don't want to repeat myself in a few paragraphs time. Story Mode is the primary core of LEGO Star Wars. In this, you play through six chapters of all six Star Wars episodes.
There are action/platforming type levels, which involve shooting or slashing at your enemies, collecting studs (money), and solving many LEGO based puzzles - and destroying pretty much every breakable object as you go. You'll get to escape from the crumbling Echo Base on Hoth, pursued by Stormtroopers. You'll get to destroy multitudes of Battle Droids as they swarm through the swamps of Naboo. You'll get to see R2-D2 and C-3PO safely to an escape pod in a recreation of the opening scene of the first film.
In addition to this, there are vehicle based levels, which involve everything from Podracing, to flying an X-Wing down the trench of the Death Star, to taking down Star Destroyers and the second Death Star in the epic final battle of Return of the Jedi.
These six chapters try to capture the six most important action-packed scenes of each film, but as is the case with Episode III, some parts are curiously absent: the epic battle between Yoda and Palpatine, and it would have been fun to play as Anakin during his attack on the Jedi Temple. A lot of levels don't stay true to the source, either, to allow for the gameplay mechanics to work better. If you're a Star Wars fan, you'll probably notice this, but you'll be having too much fun to care.
LEGO Star Wars is not a hard game. Death simply means you lose some of the money you've collected, and it is annoying only if you're trying to get the "True Jedi" award for a level (collecting enough money to fill the meter). It only really gets difficult when it sends wave upon wave of enemies at you, such as Clone Troopers on Kashyyk, or the constantly re-spawning enemy ships that hound you during the space battles. These are the only few moments in the game that can inspire any real frustration, but honestly, this is probably the least stressful platformer I've ever played - it never pulls any unfair punches on you, and the camera never causes grief. It is fixed, and it follows you around in a cinematic fashion, showing you everything you need to see.
LEGO Star Wars is not a very long game. Each Episode will probably take you an hour if you play it straight through. "Six hours?" I hear you say. But Story Mode is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you've completed Story Mode for a level, you'll unlock Free Play and Challenge. Free Play is where you'll spend most of your time. Here, you get to use any characters you want, and really explore every last nook and cranny to find all the items to boost your percentage score. I've spent over 20 hours already, and I'm only at around 70% of total completion. Collecting the Red Power Brick will allow you to unlock an extra boost that can be used in the game - some are quite silly, but there are a few useful ones in there too. Collecting the 10 LEGO mini kits (and this is my favourite bit), will build a model Star Wars ship that can be viewed and rotated in a gallery.
Challenge is a speed run through the levels, where you simply need to pick up 10 blue mini-kits in 10 minutes. It is challenging, yes, but a lot of fun, too. There are bonus levels for each of the Star Wars episodes, and an overall bonus area, which you'll get to see if you play enough of the game. Some of the missions there are quite fun, such as the LEGO City, where you simply interact with and destroy whatever you can to collect all the studs. Here you will also find some bonus missions, such as the original Podracing sequence I mentioned earlier.
There are also more than 60 characters to unlock. Many of them are unlocked simply by playing as them. You'll get every character from all six movies, and some variations of them (you'll have access to something like 5 Luke Skywalkers). The unlockable characters range from the useless Gonk Droid, to the Emperor himself. Each character falls into a different group, and each group has their own abilities. If something needs to be moved with the Force, then you'll need a Jedi. Shooters can use grapples to be lifted to high places. High jumpers can reach places other characters can't. Droids can unlock certain doors. Bounty Hunters can use thermal detonators. But this is the sort of stuff you can figure out for yourself.
The game is light hearted and a bit silly, and it might not sound like a lot of fun on paper, but it works. Sometimes, you need a something like this to play when you want to take a break from the bigger, more demanding games out there. LEGO Star Wars is a distraction, and a welcome one at that.
Community review by jerec (March 23, 2009)
On very rare occasions, Jerec finds a game that inspires him to write stuff about. The rest of the time he just hangs around being sarcastic.
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