Wookie Cookie For the Soul
When TT Games released Lego Star Wars: The Video Game in 2005, they probably knew they had something special on their hands. More than a decade, 12 franchises, and 19 games later, the tried-and-true formula still proves that it has something new to offer in Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Sure, I have a huge nostalgia for Star Wars. Sure, I also have a huge nostalgia for Lego games. And yes, I do have a combined nostalgia for the other Lego Star Wars games. While that certainly played a role in my enjoyment of LSW: TFA, I believe that even the most jaded fans of Lego games can find refreshment in the latest installment of the series.
Let’s address the white bantha in the room: this is a Lego game, so it was developed to pander to the lowest common denominator (Read: children). Frankly, this game is easy as all get-out. But purchasers of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens aren’t looking for a kick-your-teeth-in Dark Souls-esque experience; they want to break blocks and build blocks under the guise of witty and innocent humor. This game is exactly what it promises to be and nothing more: a fun and simple “Lego-fied” take on one of the most beloved movies of 2015.
The gameplay remains largely unchanged from former Lego games; you break stuff, you build stuff, and you mash the attack button a lot. That said, the developers did venture out into new gameplay territory with multi-builds, 3rd person combat, and spaceship combat. The multi-builds provide a small but substantial amount of choice to the player: Do I build a giant spider to take out the Stormtroopers, or do I build a popcorn machine to lure them out with buttery goodness? Fun little choices like this help to keep the game fresh while not altering the course of the entire game. The new cover-based 3rd person combat is an interesting addition, but it does grow stale after the first few sections. The shooting isn’t nearly as competent as, say, Gears of War, and it essentially becomes a point and click shoot-em-up. Those sections didn’t bore me, but they didn’t exactly excite me either. What did get my blood pumping, however, was the addition of free flying space combat. Lego games have always had on-rails vehicle sections, but this time TT Games lets the player fly around in dogfighting matches that are sure to provide a thrill. They reminded me of the aircraft combat in the original Star Wars: Battlefront (2004). While these sections aren’t terribly complicated, they gave an oddly authentic feel to the game. I legitimately felt like Poe Dameron while kicking some Stormtrooper butt; that’s huge for the Lego series.
While the gameplay remained mostly unchanged from other Lego games, the aesthetic of the game blows its predecessors out of the water. Podcast Beyond cast member Brian Altano remarked that the game looked as though somebody took Star Wars Legos and played with them outside in the real world. I agree completely; TT games created legitimately beautiful backgrounds to set its playsets up in. Plus, there is just something so special in seeing your favorite characters in minifig form. Little BB-8 might be one of the most adorable characters ever, while Kylo Ren’s teenage angst flows from his tiny plastic body. The music also plays a large role in the game’s’ aesthetic; John William’s typically phenomenal score plays throughout the whole game. The developers did a marvelous job capturing the feel of Star Wars, comparable to the work DICE succeeded with in Star Wars: Battlefront (2015).
My favorite part of any Lego game is the quirky humor that emanates from each title. When the series made the jump to voice acting for Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes, I must admit that I was not a fan. I felt as though it took away the creativity of telling the story silently; limitations, after all, breed creativity. While the voice acting did allow for TT Games to more competently tell a brand new story, I wish they would have stuck to pantomime for stories that have already been told. In Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, they choose to stick with voice acting, and for the most part it works. While I would have enjoyed the silent style more, they did bring in Harrison Ford, Daisey Ridley, John Boyega, and Adam Driver to add original dialogue to the movie script. This allowed for many cheeky lines, such as when Han told Finn, “And remember, you don’t have to wait for them to shoot first”. Cute little nods like this are at the crux of Lego games; it is what gives the Lego games their soul. My personal favorite nod is one to both Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones: While running away from the Rathtars, Han Solo’s hair falls off and he has to go back and grab it right before the door shuts. Ah, inside jokes that will go over most kids’ heads!
For any trophy/achievement hunters, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be an enjoyable game to 100%. There are, of course, the classic “finish the level” and “collect all _____” trophies. I love a good collect-a-thon, and LSW: TFA does not disappoint. The trophies that intrigued me, however, were the silly ones that TT Games chose to include. There was one called “That’s Miiiiiine”; you had to play as Unkar Plutt on the Millennium Falcon. Another trophy called “I like that wookie” required you to finish a level as Chewbacca and Maz Kanata. Little nods such as this are proof that the developers are passionate about the subject matter, and provide encouragement for the player to keep playing their game.
Ultimately, if you loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens, than Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a borderline must play. The only caveat to this statement is if you absolutely HATE Lego games; if that’s the case, then this game will not do enough new things to persuade you otherwise. If the Lego games have grown stale for you, than I encourage you to give this one a try. While it does have very dumbed down puzzles and simple gameplay, the atmosphere, new gameplay sections, and giggles are sure to keep you engaged. I enjoyed my time with Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I can’t wait to get back to its blocky world.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed), WiiU, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita, 3DS, iPhone, Android; Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment ; Developer: Traveller’s Tales (TT Fusion); Players: 1-2 ; Released: June 28, 2016 ; ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Up ; MSRP: $59.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a regular copy of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens purchased by the reviewer.