Ah LEGO… I remember collecting you, I remember lying on my floor all day building you and then placing you on my shelf. I remember when you came to life in the first LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, and I remember 100%’ing the Complete Saga but still wanting more… those were the days. I was so invested in the first few games, but I let it slip. I just couldn’t get into any of the Superhero adaptations, and my interest waned in the Indiana Jones series. That being said, with the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I had hoped that a new installment, based on one of my favourite films of all time, would rekindle my passion for the series, and strike hard at my nostalgic heart-strings. Indeed, while the game does not reinvent the LEGO shaped wheel, and can at times feel rushed and repetitive, there is still a barrel of laughs and enjoyable puzzles to be discovered in this latest addition to the franchise.
In the past I’ve been pretty skeptical about the ‘LEGO characters talking’ thing, which the games have had since LEGO: Lord of the Rings. The brief footage I’d witnessed of these games seemed lazy and boring. But I was wrong, at least in this instance. By adding in voice acting, there was a lot of potential for characters in the periphery of the game to tack on their witty comments, and provide some hilarious moments. Random chatter found throughout main story levels; banter between pilots, or Storm Troopers having casual chats about their terrible aim, all had me actively stopping what I was doing so as to not disrupt the chain of dialogue. In fact, even with regards to the ‘real’ movie audio, often the seriousness of the movie dialogue juxtaposes the silliness on screen, which leads to some very charming and funny cutscenes.
As is tradition, the story follows the main plot of the Force Awakens film, but with their own LEGO flavour added into the mix. The game also offers a handful of extended universe missions that take place before the events of the film. I thoroughly enjoyed watching how LEGO parodied the movie, however at times the scenes felt disjointed and rushed. In order to make the dialogue of the film fit, chunks of it are split and removed, which given my knowledge of the actual screening, just didn’t sit right with me.
Combat has been jostled around a bit since the first couple of LEGO Star Wars Games, but The Force Awakens still sticks to a similar flow of action. You mash the attack button, and switch it up with a special move when prompted. However, with each successful hit you build up a combo meter, which when full, lets you unleash an ultra-attack that decimates everything around you. Unfortunately, there aren’t a huge proportion of enemies, so that even when you have enough opportunity to build up the combo, there is likely only going to be one or two enemies left to use it on.
Additionally, the game contains a LEGO version of cover-based shooting. Basically, at specific points in a selection of levels, the characters will go into cover mode. You can switch between them still, but they can only move sideways between cover, and you have to aim up and shoot down the enemies in your way. These sequences have their moments, but they drag on too often; holding down the same two buttons, and moving the analog stick just enough for the assisted aiming to kick in, gets very mindless and boring.
On a positive note, flying missions have been improved and don’t outstay their welcome. It’s fun to blast your way through squadrons of Tie-Fighters, fly through asteroid fields, and blow holes in Thermal Oscelators, all the while listening to your squads banter over the radio.
“These sequences have their moments, but they drag on too often; holding down the same two buttons, and moving the analog stick just enough for the assisted aiming to kick in, gets very mindless and boring”
All things considered, it just wouldn’t be a LEGO game without a plethora of LEGO puzzles to solve. As always, players can switch between different characters, who have different abilities to use in tandem with each other to complete these challenges. Similarly, each mission has a ‘Story Mode’, which must be completed before you can bring any character you’d like into the missions in ‘Free Play Mode’.
The LEGO puzzle-solving formula is still well in-tact -destroy things to create new things; solve one puzzle to collect more pieces to solve the bigger puzzle. Making its debut in a LEGO game however, is the new ‘multi-build’ system. Multi-build is a process whereby a pile of LEGO can be built into multiple things, requiring the player to knock them down and rebuild them, thereby solving the puzzle by building and using them in the correct order. All of the puzzles in the game are relatively easy and quick to figure out; however, a few tend to drag on, and controller input can occasionally seem tedious and frustrating when having to remake the blocks.
Ultimately, the puzzle-solving and LEGO building is all in service to the endless stream of collectables littered in every crevice of the game. Main missions are given a destination planet to access it from, and each planet has a big ‘open-world-like’ hub that contains a myriad of side-quests and collectables. Thankfully, cute micro versions of spaceships and speeders can be spawned to navigate yourself quickly around the maps.
Gold bricks are the most important of the core collectables, which grant access to the extra missions in the game. Additionally, side quests exist to serve as very short, mostly collect-deliver missions which also reward Gold Bricks. In fact, almost every collectable also rewards a gold brick, so unlocking the extra missions isn’t too challenging. While the main story clocks in at around seven hours of game-time, if you’re keen to sink your completionist teeth in, you will bump up that count considerably.
“Every mission is given a destination planet to access it from, and each planet has a big ‘open-world-like’ hub that contains a myriad of side-quests and collectables.”
My standards aren’t particularly high for LEGO games; I know what they are. They can feel repetitive as hell, and if you’ve played every single one of them, I commend you on that achievement. The standard formula hasn’t changed a whole deal, but as someone who considers himself a huge fan of Star Wars, I had a lot of fun with this latest entrance in the series. Most scenes had me smiling and amused, while the majority of the puzzles felt smart and quick. If you’re a fan of either series, you’re sure to get a kick out of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.