LEGO and Star Wars is a proven partnership. That’s why developer TT Fusion has capitalized on the recent theatrical release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a brand-new multi-platform LEGO game based on the film.
It succeeds primarily because it reminds you of things you love. As brands, LEGO and Star Wars are engraved in people’s memories. The game doesn’t make any significant changes in the standard LEGO formula, but The Force Awakens is still able to convey the magical spirit of both properties through nostalgia. Despite (or perhaps because of) the familiar action-adventure formula, the latest instalment in the ever-growing LEGO game series is definitely not a trap.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is less a retelling of the film and more of a re-imagination. The game follows the film’s plot quite closely, but it isn’t afraid to take liberties with the source material. The new game begins with a prologue mission set during the Battle of Endor that connects the original trilogy with the new story. Although the recap of the classic narrative is nonessential for those familiar with Star Wars lore, it’s still exciting to see how the game manipulates iconic cinematic moments. Enlisting and controlling ewoks is reason enough to love a level that is basically a tutorial.
The changes are the result of the much-needed (and welcome) injection of humour, including an unusual mission looking for “wookie cookies” as Leia Organa. Perhaps the greatest strength of LEGO games is their self-aware tone, and that’s equally true of The Force Awakens, which is much funnier than the average game.
Having said that, The Force Awakens isn’t as witty as some of its LEGO predecessors. It still parodies the film, but most of the jokes don’t hit as hard as they should, and a weird running gag about ice cream becomes less funny – and more annoying – each time it gets incorporated. The comedic tone is still well beyond most games, but LEGO players have come to expect gold, not second-rate carbonite.
Like most LEGO games, The Force Awakens offers few surprises in terms of gameplay, but a few fresh features have been added. There are now multiple ways to rebuild smashed objects, which creates interesting trial-and-error puzzles that become quite difficult in later missions. There’s also an overly-simplistic cover system that leads to cool-looking yet primitive-feeling shootouts.
Aside from that clunky cover mechanic, the rest of the game is smooth to control. The platforming is fun thanks to masterful level design, and each playable character can participate in clever mini-games, such as match puzzles and quick-time events, that are scattered throughout the missions. Switching between characters can be frustrating, especially when there are up to five of them roaming around the screen, but the game eventually settles on a comfortable number that can overcome the game’s many obstacles.
The between-missions over world is a bit more disappointing. Unlike some of the other licensed LEGO games, there is no central hub. There are moments of exploration – particularly in pre-mission areas such as the Millennium Falcon and the Resistance base on D’Qar – but most of the sections cannot be unlocked until the game is completed.
For those into finishing games to completion, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens has an incredible amount of post-story content to explore. Collecting gold bricks during regular missions unlocks bonus missions, which are worth the extra effort. The main campaign flies by in what seems like an hour, but the almost intimidating number of collectibles gives the game excellent replayability.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens pulls music and dialogue directly from the film and pastes it into the game, and the plastic characters feel more alive thanks to the actors’ performances. In addition to the movie lines, cast members including Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher returned to record supplementary banter, all of which fits with the feel-good nature of the game.
In the visual department, the game is beautifully rendered, and on a few occasions, a truly stunning sight. Of course, most of the subjects are modelled after simple plastic toys, but the rich backgrounds often deliver a lot of quality detail. That’s especially true during the X-wing battles. Each level is set in a rich 3D environment, and despite the twitchy flying controls, the scenery provides an unexpected sense of authenticity.
While the game is a worthwhile companion for the movie, you don’t need to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy it. The accessible gameplay and replay value help make this experience the perfect introduction to the world for both youngsters and the non-acquainted.
Despite the flaws, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is both relaxing and satisfying. The balanced difficulty curve makes it a good game to play alone or share with others, and who doesn’t want to be Han Solo, Poe Dameron, or Rey? The childhood connection to both LEGO and Star Wars is something that often lasts a lifetime, and the game is for those who have never let go. There’s no reason to have a bad feeling about LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.