The LEGO Star Wars franchise expands, with the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. How does it stack up?
The original LEGO Star Wars games are still considered to be some of the best in the entire series of LEGO videogames. First released as two trilogies and then later as the complete saga, they offered immense value for money in terms of both the quantity of the game content and the quality thereof. Part of that success was because the formula allowed the developer to restrict themselves to just recreating a few of the most memorable scenes in LEGO style – omitting any possible filler and leaving you with a giant interactive highlight reel of a game instead.
Of course, LEGO Stars Wars: The Force Awakens tries to offer a full game experience as well, but it takes all of its content out of a single movie rather than three or even six of them. In all fairness this isn’t completely true because you get to experience part of Return of the Jedi as a tutorial, but everything else is Episode 7-related.
This is usually the part of the review where we talk about how most of these LEGO games follow the same formula, and this is true for Force Awakens as well. However, they have tried to add a few new ingredients to the mix this time around. Most noticeable are the third person cover shooter sections that have been included – which are of course a great fit if you’re seen the movie. These look great and are a nice way of mixing up the (still present) base formula for LEGO games, even though they lose some of their novelty value later on in the game.
Other tweaks are more subtle in nature, like puzzles where you have to use the same stack of LEGO bricks to build multiple creations in a sequence. It’s not radically different from what we were used to, but it does do a nice job of showcasing that LEGO bricks are more versatile than today’s video games and LEGO kits tend to make kids believe. Although that may be nostalgia speaking…
As with other LEGO games, the game is broken up into multiple small hubs, from which you can explore the individual levels (or scenes). Most of these are lifted from the movie, but there are also some new elements of storytelling available here – which is a huge bonus for Star Wars fans. The same can probably also be said for the usual wide range of collectible items, characters and secrets – another staple for the series but also a big draw for achievement hunters and fans alike.
Completing the campaign without specifically going for any of the achievements will have you see the ending after about seven to eight hours, and the campaign can be played with a friend as well in co-op mode. What’s also fun is that, in terms of presentation values, the movie’s actors have provided voice acting services to the game – for both the existing scenes as well as some of the additional sections. That alone should be reason enough for Star Wars fans to play this game. Luckily, it’s also backed up by a solid LEGO game that manages to do a few things differently – even if those changes are fun diversions more than they are game-changers. The fact that this is the most visually polished LEGO game so far also helps.