LEGO Star Wars

April 20, 2005

[floatleft][/floatleft]Let’s face it: I love LEGOs, and I love [i]Star Wars[/i]. If a very mediocre [i]LEGO Star Wars[/i] game came out, I’m sure I would love it. They would have to go through very little trouble to get my money. But despite this, Traveller’s Tales didn’t make a mediocre game. They really went the extra mile and pulled together a really fun and solid experience.

First of all, this game may be one of the best-looking [i]Star Wars[/i] games ever. Because of the LEGO theme, a minimal polygon count gives a prefect representation of the world and characters. This left the developers more room to add in lots of cute lighting effects and reflections and such. My machine is quite a capable PC (unlike poor Snowcone’s), so I was able to kick the resolution up to 1600×1200 with all the effects on, but any fairly modern machine should be able to make this game look beautiful.

The LEGO and [i]Star Wars[/i] themes are used expertly throughout the game. The first part of [i]Episode III[/i] takes place in a huge space battle that will open the movie. It is so intense that it just has me salivating to see what the movie will be like, with dogfights and capital ship flybys throughout. The levels all manage to remain true to the movies while still keeping a LEGO look and feel and an excellent sense of humor. This is not to say that the game isn’t violent, and some of the most amusing scenes have a sort of morbid twist on them, but nothing that should disturb your kids. The cut-scenes are very well done and extremely entertaining. The game itself ranges from relaxed to frantic, but never lets up.

[floatright][/floatright]In discussing the gameplay, let’s get one thing out of the way: this game is really, really easy. It’s designed for kids, and although I still really enjoyed it, it’s not the sort of game you play for a challenge. You have unlimited lives, and the only cost to dying is a small amount of Lego studs (the coins of the game). Aside from this, the game is mostly a very simple platformer with some basic combat and problem-solving. There are a few vehicle levels, which range from a somewhat poor pod racing level to a scrolling shooter to an incredibly brilliant (if basic) rails shooter set at the opening of [i]Episode III[/i] mentioned earlier. Outside of these, the rest of the game, including the main interface, takes place in a 3D-platforming world. However, the game has a lot more to it than just jumping and attacking things.

Despite only using a few buttons, the game has a wide variety of actions: many characters have special actions, and you can switch characters during a mission using a “tag” option that allows you to switch for an NPC. Various obstacles must be circumvented by using just the right character: Jedi can move blocks and make new items with them, droids can open doors that nobody else can unlock, blaster characters can hook onto strategically placed grapples, etc. Many of the hidden collectibles on the levels can only be accessed by using just the right character, even though sometimes that character is not in your given entourage for a specific level. Fortunately, you can unlock characters for free mode by completing levels or by buying them from Dex. You can unlock not only allies and main characters, but also every enemy in the game. Some of the characters are really fun to play with, especially [i]Episode III[/i]’s General Grevious, who has a lot of lightsabers and knows how to use them.

Really it is the collecting that makes this game so much fun. And unlike most games of the “100% collection” variety, the game is easy enough that it shouldn’t be too frustrating to find all of the secrets. The exploration part of the game really adds a lot to the replay-ability of the levels. It also brings tangible rewards in the form of a hidden level and more unlocked characters. The LEGO people you unlock walk around the diner (which forms the interface for the game), getting into fights with each other at random. Just watching them or jumping in on their fights is often entertaining by itself. The other unlockables include cheats that change out your weapons for brooms or give everyone mustaches. And the secret area in this game is brilliant and also hints at a possible sequel based on the original trilogy! Most of the fun in this game is in the quest for all of these secrets.

[floatleft][/floatleft]This game was incredibly well polished, even if it is very simple, and well worth $30. Anyone who loves [i]Star Wars[/i] or LEGOs should have fun with it, and it is simple enough for younger kids to play with a little help from a player two parent. I only have one word of caution: if you don’t like spoilers, you may want to keep away from the last third of the game until after you see [i]Episode III[/i], since it gives a lot of the plot away (I have seen things on almost the entire movie, and I still learned one or two things). It’s a nice, relaxing exploration game that might make a nice break from some of the more intensive fare of a gamer’s library.

Score: 5/5

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