Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Review

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Posted July 8, 2016 by John Newby in Video Games

Developed By: TT Fusion

Published By: WB Games

Release Date: June 28th, 2016

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita, Mac OS, iOS

Back in 2005, Lego Star Wars made TT Games a force (no pun intended) to be reckoned with using a combination of utter destruction, goofiness, and dedication to a licensed property. This little brick building extravaganza changed kid games and proved that adults could still enjoy bloodless experiences. The studio has since expanded and released multiple games based on Batman, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Each release is seemingly larger than the last, but the dedication to quality has mostly stayed the same. Fast forward 11 years, and TT Games is back with another Lego Star Wars, only now it’s based on the wonderful Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

LEGO® STAR WARS™: The Force Awakens_20160701222843

Despite being set during the latest film, Lego: The Force Awakens actually opens with the Battle of Endor. This new take on the classic scenario serves as an introduction to breaking things, using grappling hooks, and manipulating items with the force, which is quite handy when you consider that only Kylo Ren uses lightsabers or the force for a good majority of the new movie. More importantly, the Battle of Endor bridges the gap between the stories and serves as a convenient excuse to add playable versions of Wicket the Ewok and Return of the Jedi-era Luke. Sure, Wicket may look a little weird in this version and he doesn’t have the slingshot, but I can’t really complain because Ewoks are so useful in these games.

At first glance, it’s easy to pan Lego: The Force Awakens given that the game is only based around one movie while the earlier Lego Star Wars games were each comprised of trilogies. However, TT Fusion does a solid job expanding on the story and making sequences more unique. Every scene in the base movie becomes one of Lego Star Wars 10 chapters (11 if you count the epilogue), and none feel like filler material. Rey’s discovery of the lightsaber in Maz’s castle may not seem like exciting level design, but TT includes a solid amount of puzzles to solve. The least action-packed mission becomes one of the more interesting simply based on the design and required teamwork.

Thankfully, TT Fusion’s design changes extend beyond adding some puzzles and extra writing. The standard Lego formula was becoming a tad stale until Lego: The Force Awakens mixed it up with two big additions—cover mechanics and Multi-Builds. Instead of constantly running around smashing Square or X for an entire level, you now have to survive encounters with snipers and massive turrets. The only way to defeat these enemies is to hop into cover, Gears of War style, and take potshots at exploding barrels and exposed enemies. Shooting from cover is a tired concept, and yet I still found it to be a refreshing change of pace. Of course, Lego: The Force Awakens also mixes up the encounters by throwing enemies in that can only be defeated by using Han or Poe’s Macrobinoculars to find chinks in the armor. It’s impressive how such a small detail can completely affect a game’s enjoyment.  

Those floating symbols mean that Macrobinoculars need to be used.

Those floating symbols mean that Macrobinoculars need to be used.

Like the cover mechanics, “Multi-Builds” change the game (literally and figuratively) by switching up the standard “break and build” formula. Instead of just building one item to progress through a level, you can now build up to three items with any pile of flashing orange bricks. Most of these builds lead to secrets like minikits or red bricks, while others create an ordering puzzle. For example, one of the side missions tasks you with destroying a shield generator, infiltrating a base, and stealing a First Order troop transport. In order to achieve these goals, you have to build an item to destroy a door and one to stop an electric volcano. Figuring out the correct building sequence takes a little bit of trial-and-error.

BB-8 and Kylo Ren taking part in some side missions.

BB-8 and Kylo Ren taking part in some side missions.

One big change from earlier games like Lego: Lord of The Rings and Lego: Marvel Super Heroes is the lack of a true open world. Both of those games were fully explorable from the start. Lego: The Force Awakens switches up the formula and follows the precedent set by Lego: Marvel’s Avengers. The one open world is replaced by multiple hub worlds that are just smaller areas to explore. The Millennium Falcon, Jakku, Starkiller Base, and Takodana (Maz’s castle) are only a few of the hub worlds that come complete with side missions, gold bricks, and extra activities. Most of these areas are unlocked early on, but others can only be accessed after collecting a certain amount of gold bricks. These worlds—like Taul—each have side missions similar to the Deadpool missions in Lego: Marvel Super Heroes, but they are far more in-depth. The Deadpool missions didn’t have hour-long play times or full cinematic cutscenes like those in Lego: The Force Awakens.

The hub worlds of Lego Star Wars.

The hub worlds of Lego Star Wars.

Of course, unlocking new areas and secrets requires accessing different characters with unique abilities. The Force Awakens didn’t introduce a ton of new characters, but TT still includes a massive roster; the majority of which are mostly useless. You don’t need a dozen different Stormtroopers or some random space pirates. Most of my time was spent playing as the core cast of characters and the preorder-bonus heroes from The Empire Strikes Back and the prequel trilogy. (Oh, and J.J. Abrams.) Thankfully, these couple dozen characters are so well made that they more than make up for the lack of roster uniqueness. Rey is probably the best character to use with her combat skills and parkour badassery. BB-8 is a close second because he is super adorable and surprisingly adept at combat, but most people who play as the little robot get way too distracted rolling around and don’t bother to help with objectives.

JJ Abrams is one of the best characters in the game.

JJ Abrams is one of the best characters in the game.

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a glorious return to the franchise that essentially started it all. The always entertaining goofiness is present, even when audio from the movie is being used. There are so many little jokes tucked away that it’s difficult to spot them all. The humor is just fantastic, and TT Games seem to have truly nailed the gameplay and level design after the lackluster Lego: Marvel’s Avengers. In all fairness, the only thing keeping Lego: The Force Awakens from being the best Lego game ever is a very clunky final battle against Kylo Ren that partially ruins the epic moment from the movie. However, this battle is a minor complaint in an otherwise extremely enjoyable game for both kids and adults. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is made for those of us that love Star Wars and randomly breaking everything in sight.

Poe and Ackbar relax and play some video games.

Poe and Ackbar relax and play some video games.

 


About the Author

John Newby

A random dude obsessed with coffee, blue heelers, and most nerdy things. Big fan of Star Wars, Borderlands, Arrow/Flash, and a whole lotta video games. The Saboteur is underrated, and Silverado is the best movie ever made.