Lego and Star Wars are two brands that have gone hand in hand for decades. Star Wars is a canvas for seemingly limitless potential in creativity and adventures, and Lego provided the tools to make those a reality. I can remember countless hours spent with my brothers creating new types of spacecraft using our Lego Blocks, and building entire stations and worlds for "future" Star Wars stories. When Lego teamed up with developer Traveller's Tales, it was only natural for their first video game to utilize the Star Wars license. To be fair, it was back in 2005, and the Prequels were still a large factor for that decision, but regardless of that I believe it was the best way to hook players into the idea of Lego video games.
Since then, the developers have branched out considerably, making games for Marvel Superheroes, DC Comics, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean and just about every major popular brand they could think of. They've even entered the Toys-To-Life genre, made famous by the Skylander series with Lego Dimensions which brought a whole new angle to a genre that was otherwise feeling stale. With the absurd popularity of the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it only made sense that TT Games released another installment in the number one Lego video game franchise.
The game begins at the very end of Return of the Jedi, as a sort of refresher for what happened to our heroes before the thirty-year gap between it and the events of The Force Awakens. This was a monumental improvement over Lego Marvel Avengers, which was very disjointed throughout the pacing of the storytelling. The prologue was a good opportunity to showcase some of the new gameplay changes we're to expect throughout the game. The well-choreographed combat that was one of the few positives of Lego Avengers returns and it's great. It introduces cover-based shooting mechanics akin to Uncharted or Gears of War. While incredibly rudimentary compared to those other two titles, it still offered more in the way of gameplay variety.
Multibuild is a new feature that lets players use the same pile of bricks for different purposes. It's a nice way to let players choose how to go about the level, or access collectibles. The biggest, and most exciting new gameplay function is dogfighting, and what better way to introduce players to it than having us pilot the Millennium Falcon through the Death Star. The aerial combat exists as either arena battles or dogfights in space, and they're a blast to play. Similar to Lego Avengers, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers 5 free-play hub areas to explore: D'Qar, Jakku, The Millennium Falcon interior, Starkiller Base and Takodana. All are designed wonderfully and have the same Lego charm we've come to expect. I still wish for the interconnected world-like feeling we got with Harry Potter's Hogwarts or even the massive world in Lego Batman 2. On the flip side the individual focus on each of the hubs really showcases the care that went into them.
Another problem in Lego Avengers was that more often than not, the second player would feel like there's nothing to do as most of the levels were very focused on the first player. They've definitely changed their approach here; The Force Awakens ensures all characters are needed to make it through a level completely. I'm glad they addressed this problem with the last Lego game, as it really does encourage the player and their partners to cooperate, and utilize each of the wonderful characters The Force Awakens has to offer.
Lego games just wouldn't be Lego games without a plethora of collectibles, and The Force Awakens doesn't shy away from this. With more than 200 collectibles and customizable characters, more than 80 vehicles and creatures, fans of the franchise will be pleased with the quantity present.
The visuals for these Lego Games have been nailed from the get-go, and The Force Awakens is no slouch. Most versions have a consistent framerate, however I did notice some slowdown and pop-in on the Wii U version. Levels have lots of action going on between them, and it's great to just walk around and listen in on humorous conversations in the hub worlds. It's also a pleasure to hear that much of the Star Wars cast contributed to the game, lending their voices to reprise their roles. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels all return as Han Solo, Leia Organa and C-3PO, and John Boyega, Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley return as Finn, Kylo Ren and Rey.
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a return to form, breathing new life into the Lego video games. It's very conscious of its source material and does a tremendous job in retelling it with that classic Lego charm "“ full of goofy puns aimed at those who've seen the movie or Star Wars fans in general. With a myriad of new gameplay features at its disposable, The Force Awakens also got me thinking about how they could evolve their dogfighting gameplay. Perhaps a full blown Lego Rogue Squadron? Let me dream.
|Lots of new gameplay features that really add to the whole experience.|
|A ton of collectibles to hunt by yourself or with friends.|
|Itâ€™s great to see a lot of the main cast offer authentic dialogue.|
|Slowdown and pop-in noted in the Wii U version.|
|The cover-based shooting is super neat as an inclusion, but basic.|
|While the hubs look and feel great, I still miss the vast open worlds in other Lego games.|