Kris Wall reviews LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens…
Travellers Tales have got the LEGO games down to a fine art now, year after year they deliver hugely fun and addictive adventures through some of our favourite universes, from Batman to Indiana Jones, from Harry Potter to The Avengers and just about everything in-between with last years LEGO Dimensions filling in all the gaps imaginable. Though with so many coming out in rapid succession, the LEGO video game series also starting coming with a nagging sense of repetition, something which I felt creeping in last years great LEGO Jurassic World ,and which consequently made me sit out both LEGO Avengers and LEGO Dimensions for a break.
As fun as the LEGO games are it’s difficult to shake the feeling that you’re not just collecting all the bricks all over again in a different universe, so a bit of a shake up was definitely needed. Travellers Tales started out these games with the Star Wars universe, and they’ve returned to it here with their take on The Force Awakens. The truly wonderful and surprising thing is that with a tiny bit of added gameplay additions, tweaks and minor reinventions, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is without doubt the best one they’ve done yet !
From the moment John Williams’ iconic score booms out of your TV speakers, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens exudes a ridiculous amount of fun, charm and humour that doesn’t let up until you put the controller down. The game begins at the Forest of Endor battle at the climax of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, as Han, Leia, Chewie and Wicket battle against the Imperial forces, whilst Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader team up to take down The Emperor aboard the Death Star.
It’s a prolonged and riotously fun opening to the game, working quickly to bring new players up to speed on the mechanics of the series, and introducing the more seasoned players to some new additions and reinventions on the gameplay we’ve all come to know and love. Perhaps most important of these re-workings is the new directional multi-build function, which allows players to use the series iconic fast build mechanic to construct multiple builds from the same pile of bricks, smashing the build upon use and then using the bricks to build something else nearby. It’s by no means a ground breaking game changer, but it does bring an added level of fun, depth and exploration to the levels.
Also new in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is some incredibly fun flight sections, both on rails and free flight areas. There’s a giddy delight to these sections, with the opening Death Star trench run being a thrilling early highlight, along Poe and Finn’s assault on the First Order starship, and Rey and Finn’s escape from Jakku in the Millenium Falcon. Seeing how well the flight sections had been implemented into the game always had me excited to get back in the pilot seat of an X-Wing to take to the skies. Some of the ground levels also now feature cover shooting sections that play as a cross between Gears of War and Time Crisis where you and your team are pinned down, outnumbered and outgunned and you have to keep locking on to targets and popping up and taking them down. It might seem basic but it’s a very fun addition to the game that ushers in some action packed scenarios while also helping to break up all jumping and brick collecting.
Speaking of brick collecting, that’s back in force (pun intended) and it’s just as addictive as ever. Try as hard as I might but I just can’t seem to get through a level without trying to smash every item and collect every peg I could to get that 100% rating. The levels also contain multiple areas that are only accessible to certain characters, of which there are over 100 characters to unlock, ensuring you’ll need to return to each level to utilize unique abilities in order to truly unlock and collect everything. Even more awesome are the cool Star Wars nods to fans such a finding slabs of carbonite that unlock characters from the original and prequel trilogies, and then there are the secret missions that fill in gaps and add a bit more backstory to The Force Awakens story.
The game moves through the story of The Force Awakens at breakneck pace, covering all the key set pieces with sparky gusto and approaching the darker and more spoilery events of the film with the loveable LEGO humour we’ve come to expect from these games. The voiceover work across the game is absolutely impeccable too, and it became quite difficult to tell the difference between the soundbites from the film and the character voiceovers in game, all the stand ins have done a great job sounding like Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and the rest of the cast.
Travellers Tales have brought a much better balance and pace to the levels in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with almost every member of your team providing an ability that is key to the level, rather than just having superfluous members hanging around doing nothing. I loved quickly swapping between Poe Dameron with his ability to grapple structures and scan for enemy weakness with BB-8’s ability to hack into systems or using Rey’s nimble agility to bound around the environments to be able to unlock all the secrets within the levels. There’s just a much better pairing of characters and abilities in this game than what we’ve seen before, which makes puzzle solving in the game a lot of fun, and also makes the co-op split screen mode even more of a joy than it was before as you both have to really work together with the varying character abilities to beat the levels.
If there’s one downside to this brilliant package, I’d have to say that the hub worlds, usually a source of great fun and exploration in the LEGO games, feel somewhat lacking and uninspired in The Force Awakens, especially when compared to the grand and sprawling hub worlds featured in the likes of LEGO Batman, Harry Potter and Jurassic World, which essentially gave you the entirety of both Jurassic Parks to roam around in. It doesn’t help that these sections are also occasionally marred by some long load times here and there. It certainly didn’t dent my enjoyment of the game, but with everything else being so very good, it also stood out like a sore thumb.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a labour of love from Travellers Tales, it’s a Star Wars game clearly made by huge fans of Star Wars with a deep love and respect of the source material, and that love and respect fills every single second of this brilliant adventure, whilst also raising the benchmark to grand new heights for all LEGO games to come. It’s incredibly hard not to be overcome by sheer overwhelming joy and elation while playing this game, and I found that for the majority of my time with LEGO The Force Awakens, I was sat with a goofy grin plastered across my face. I cannot recommend LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens highly enough, this is fun on an intergalactic scale!
+ IT’S STAR WARS
+ And it’s ridiculously fun, funny and charming
+ Great gameplay additions in the directional multi-build
+ Flying sections
+ Excellent co-op play
+ Awesome secrets
– Hub worlds feel lacking
– Some long load times here and there
Kris Wall – Follow me on Twitter