Lego Star Wars is one of the most intriguing cross-promotional games ever. It’s managed to garner more hype than the official Episode III game, which speaks volumes about the trouble the Star Wars franchise has been in lately. While the game offers a unique take on the Star Wars universe and pretty much hooks you in with the “gotta catch ‘em all” factor of unlocking all of the characters and getting a sneak peak at Episode III, the somewhat lackluster gameplay, however, doesn’t make up for the content offered.
Lego Star Wars is a truncated retelling of the stories from the movie prequels. You’ll play through the key events from all three movies from the trade federation ship to the final showdown between Obi Wan and Anakin (and perhaps even beyond). What makes the game so interesting is that almost everything in the game (sans most of the environments) looks like it’s been built out of Lego blocks, which will send enemies, as well as the majority of the destructive objects exploding into small blocks or just collapsing on top of themselves.
Each chapter stays true to the story and will let you play one main character and have up to four other characters following you around. Each character type has their own special abilities, for instance, droids can open certain doors, blaster characters are able to repel up to higher ledges, and so on. You can switch between characters when the need arises, or if you’re just tired of playing Jedi’s all the time. When you’re not assuming the role of these secondary characters, they do exhibit some sort of AI, though they’re more likely to just stand around while you’re being attacked from all sides; they well fight back if they’re being attacked however.
The game’s shortcomings really show in terms of combat. Jedi characters practically play the same, with Yoda being an exception to the rule. No matter who you play, you’ll be using the same three-hit combo and jump attack throughout the game. Blaster characters are the same story, with the only difference being the sound of their blasters. Combat isn’t fast paced and becomes pretty repetitive, only to start playing second fiddle to your quest to collect money and the numerous Easter eggs the game holds. One element that spices up the generally bland gameplay is the ability to use the force on certain objects, usually designated with a glowing aura. You’ll come across more than a few puzzles where you have to lift objects or build new objects that will let you get to a hard to reach item or allow you to push on through the level. The monotony is broken on a few levels in Episode II and III where the chapters consist of some shooting levels reminiscent of Zaxxon, not to mention the Pod race in Episode I.
The scavenger hunt doesn’t end with Easter eggs and studs. You’ll also be able to find kit pieces hidden in levels to build vehicles specific to that level. You also have a meter at the top of the screen that fills up as you collect more and more studs. When you manage to fill the meter for each level, you’ll gain a piece to a super secret ship as well as Jedi master status which will unlock more levels to play after you complete the initial three episodes. You can also use your hard earned money to purchase up to 40 characters including Darth Maul, General Grievous, Count Dooku, among the other lesser droids, Jedi, and Wookies available. You can then go back to earlier chapters and play the free play mode where you can assemble a veritable dream team to play through with, like Yoda and Darth Maul. You can also purchase extras that will change the way characters and items look in the game, like oversized blasters, moustaches, tea cups, and so on.
As mentioned earlier, the use of Legos give the visuals a simple, yet charming look. It’s pretty neat to see ships and generally evil characters depicted as blocks and it doesn’t really get old. You’ll also get some neat blur effects off of light sabers, a lot of reflective floors, and some particle effects from running your light sabers across things. Environments all have that sanitary, void look to them that stays true to the Star Wars universe and though they’re not totally made of blocks, they come across well and don’t look out of place.
Sound offers the usual Star Wars fare. You’ll have the usual John Williams score pounding in the background accompanied by the sounds of light sabers and blasters. Characters don’t talk, however, only offering small grunts and sighs during cut scenes and during battle instead opting to talk with their hands and body language. The lack of voice acting isn’t a bad thing though, as it adds to the overall charm of the presentation. Though it’s a tad odd during certain emotional scenes like the final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan. It’s still more lifelike then the love scenes presented in Episode II, however. Oh did I just go there? Yeah I did. Burn.
Lego Star Wars is definitely a unique take on the movie prequels and despite the lackluster combat, any fan of the series, or the prequels for that matter will find some joy in playing through the storylines. This is a must for any die hard Star Wars fan, though casual gamers or skeptics might find some enjoyment in a rental, since the game can easily be beaten over a weekend. Die hard fans will have a ball trying to collect everything there is. In the end, Lego Star Wars is a good experience despite its basic fighting mechanics and is sure to whittle away a few hours no matter what type of gamer you are.
- Brad Hicks (aka Dr. Swank), SwankWorld Media