A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. – Well…just over a decade ago on this planet to be exact – Traveller’s Tales Games introduced the world to the first LEGO Star Wars video game. 11 years, a business merger and countless LEGO games later, TT Games now under Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment are the established veterans and curators of LEGO’s video game family of franchises. Now the franchise that got the ball rolling it back with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And much like Episode VII: The Force Awakens has reinvigorated the Star Wars franchise and kicked off the new Star Wars era in a major way, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens appears to have done the same for LEGO video games.
Firstly, the story. If you’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and if you’re a Star Wars fan there’s little doubt that you have by now, then the story will be very familiar. After a prologue level dealing with the battle on Endor and the conclusion of the Skywalker/Palpatine saga from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the game proceeds with The Force Awakens storyline and splits it into ten chapters as well as an epilogue at the end. While past LEGO Star Wars games have dealt with story from multiple films at a time, an interesting solution was devised to help combat the narrative on one single film. Not only have the developers lifted key plot from the film, which is naturally expanded through incorporating the gameplay elements, but they have also included six all-new stories into the game which add extra detail to certain characters and events before the film takes place. Such new adventures include how Lor San Tekka came into possession of the vital information regarding Luke’s location, how Han Solo and Chewbacca captured the Rathtars, an adventure with patrons of Maz Kanata’s cantina and their run-ins with the First Order and Poe Dameron rescuing Admiral Ackbar prior to the events of the film (which will be familiar to anyone who has seen LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales.) Despite having to unlock them through completing multiple side objectives between ain story chapters, the time to get to these new stories is worth it.
As much as the story leans on the film, things never get too heavy thanks to the signature LEGO humour that should be all too familiar to anyone who has played past games or watched any of the LEGO shows and the Star Wars centric ones in particular. This humour united all characters and is always playful, witty and suitable for all ages. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying that is a certain charm to the humour. Wait till you see Darth Vader and get a glimpse of Kylo Ren’s room aboard Star Destroyer. I often found myself chuckling at some points or with a smile on my face as the team’s love of Star Wars shine’s through. Evenif you feel you’ve outgrown some of this humour, the sheer love of Star Wars is evident throughout from the massive list of characters ranging frm the familiar to the obscure, the attention paid to the locations and some easter eggs referenced in the humour, side challenges (for the completists and trophy hunters) and unlockables.
Gameplay largely the same as past LEGO games with one or two players controlling and switching between varying numbers of characters each level and having to solve simple LEGO-based puzzles as well as demolishing your was through breakable LEGO objects and Stormtrooper enemies with lightsabers, blasters and the like; rendering them to nothing more than broken LEGO debris. Aside from this there are also two new gameplay additions, the first of which are blaster battles where two characters will be ducking behind covers and having to blast their way our against a horde of Stormtroopers and shielded turrets, also relying on character’s special abilities to survive. The other new addition is the ability to multi-build constructible LEGO objects in order to solve certain puzzles or collect unlockables. While some of these objects need to be constructed in a certain order and will require multiple attempts to get that order correct, the construction doesn’t take too long and doesn’t feel like too much of an inconvenience which is greatly appreciated and also doesn’t detract from the satisfaction of seeing some of these objects in action once the order is correct.
The great part about the game-play is the offline co-op. While the game can be played easily with a single player, it is also just as enjoyable if not more so with two. The puzzles story chapters and news adventures levels are such that they require multiple characters and their different skills abilities to complete and advance, sometimes requiring multiple characters to work together or complete parts of a challenge in a sequence in order to advance. This type of co-op makes this a great game for families and friends to enjoy together and have everybody feel like they are involved. As this is primarily aimed at younger players, the challenges are not particularly difficult and since characters instantly respawn after dying, there are no major consequences if difficulty is encountered.
Visually the game looks great with background visuals being particularly strong on the current gen systems. Characters look great considering there is nothing too advanced required to depict. Each character looks about as good and accurate as the LEGO form will allow them too with oddly shaped characters by LEGO standards like Chewbacca, Maz Kanata, BB-8 and everyone’s favourite Ewok Wicket being particularly impressive. Characters have a good shinny effect making them look like the newest and cleanest plastic LEGO characters ever and anybody who has ever owned a set of LEGO, new or old, will get a kick out of seeing some familiar LEGO object like bushes, trees and fire looking just as they remember but with effects. Visually, there’s very little to find fault with.
The sound is also a major highlight of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Voices are lifted directly from (presumably) the master copies of the film and adapted to the LEGO presentation of the story very well. Not only that, but Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and Harrison Ford among others reprise their roles of Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron an Han Solo respectively to provide some all-new dialog for the game. This alone might be worth checking out just to hear Harrison ford’s Han Solo talk about “Wookie cookies.” Sound effects are also a highlight as many iconic sounds like the lightsaber sizzle and blaster fire all sound on point and draw you in that much more. Any no discussion of Star Wars would be complete without acknowledging the iconic John Williams score which is used in menus, the classic crawl at the start of each chapter and throughout further cementing the Star Wars experience. Other background music not provided by John Williams throughout the game does a good job of capturing that same spirit and grandeur.
While LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t dramatically break any new ground into LEGO franchise, it does mark a fine return to form, much like the movie it’s based on. The new elements are fun enough and hardly feel repetitive despite seemingly appearing to be, offline co-op gameplay ensures fun for friends and family of all ages or single players, models and backgrounds look good as well. Voice acting is strong as are sound effects and music. For season pass holders there will be additional characters and locations to explore. The only gripe might be the sheer amount of side puzzles and gold bricks to unlock to experience the new adventures and the sheer number of studs that require collecting to unlock everything, although by the end of the game, this process is significantly reduced as well in one key area so even this shouldn’t be any major hurdle for anybody.
While cliché at this point, I can say with confidence that any fan of LEGO and Star Wars will agree that the force is strong with this one and will give your money’s worth. For fans of either franchise or families looking for a fun and appropriate game that will provide hours of entertainment during the first play through as well as many more upon a second if you want to complete the game one hundred percent, I’d encourage you to check this one out.
Reviewed on: PS4
Available on: PS4, PS3, Ps Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U,Nintendo 3DS, PC, iOS
Age Rating: 7+
Publisher/Developer: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Fusion
Estimated RRP: R789
Release Date: 28 June 2016
- Co-Op gameplay that involves every many characters taking part
- All aspects of the audio
- Having to unlock new adventure levels (have to list something)
- LEGO humour might not be for everyone (minor but know what you’re getting into and the general target audience)