It took 32 years, three god-awful prequel movies (Yep. I’m looking at you George) and one rather substantial Disney buyout of Lucasfilm to finally put the Star Wars franchise back on the map. While it remains a somewhat critically acclaimed success, J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens succeeded in doing a lot of things right by the much-loved series. Firstly, it brought back the characters we all know and love, of course, albeit somewhat older. Hans Solo, Princess, ahem.. General Leia and Chewbacca all returned. It also introduced new characters Rey, Finn and Poe alongside a new villain to loathe and despise in Kylo Ren, who wasn’t quite Darth Vadar but still, close enough.
With a rejuvenated Star Wars film, of course, comes a video game of the same name, and who better to tell that very story then Traveller’s Tales. If nothing else LEGO movie games always strive to remain as close to the source material as possible, while throwing in a good mixture of comedy, outright clumsiness and action, so how does this adventure fair against previous LEGO titles?, continue reading to find out.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PS Vita
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release Date: 28 June 2016
Price: £49.74 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Remaining affectionately close to the source material has always been vital to Traveller’s Tales movie games i.e Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, etc, etc but, with The Force Awakens, the studio has gone the extra mile. Slightly nostalgic but largely to bring fans and players up to speed with the popular franchise The Force Awakens opening prologue harks back to Return of the Jedi‘s action-packed climax. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader confront the evil Palpatine aboard the Death Star II, while deep in the lush green forests of Endor Hans, Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Chewbacca do battle against various Stormtroopers and AT-AT’s with a little help from the trumpet wailing, hang gliding, rock pelting loveable furry Ewoks. The prologue is both as comedic as you would expect from TT while also providing a fantastic introduction to the game for any Star Wars fan or for that matter, anyone around who remembers the early eighties.
Much like every LEGO movie game to come before it, The Force Awakens is broken down into levels that mix a blend of simplistic puzzles, classic block building and character bashing action together, all tied up with the usual light-hearted, jovial cutscenes we’ve come to love. Each level takes around 30 minutes to complete depending on how much you really enjoy destroying every little table, plant or electrical box found in the game, all in the name of gold and silver studs. While the levels have been trimmed down to 10 from 15, the cutscenes that tie everything together neatly are a real stand out. Filled with quirky, off the cuff, chaotic comedy the cutscenes remain a massive pull throughout proceedings. Extra missions help tie together some of the unanswered questions from new characters in the movie, there is the always present free play mode, character collection and races to enjoy.
LEGO games are largely enjoyable because of the very nature of its humorous cutscenes and various playable character system but that doesn’t prevent it from becoming overly repetitive, eventually turning somewhat stagnant, The Force Awakens tries to dispel that by introducing previously not seen before features for players to over indulge in. One of which is ‘Multibuild’, an option that allows players to build numerous contraptions from the same pile of bricks, previous games would only allow for one item to be built in a pre-determined location, which makes Multibuild an exciting function and a nice change of pace. Pushing the analog stick in a particular direction while building may see the player construct part of a puzzle, which can be then accessed and used before destroying said object and rebuilding it in a completely new direction. Building again could present a new contraption or weapon or further aid the player with a puzzles progression. The new feature adds a more complex diversity to each puzzle, taking away the simple minded approach prior to moving on with the story.
Star Wars films are notorious for their action-heavy scenes as the Empire and Rebellion trade various shots against one another throughout the far reaches of the galaxy – The Battle of Takodana in The Force Awakens or the previously mentioned Battle of Endor from Return of the Jedi are classic examples of this. With this in mind, Traveller’s Tales have incorporated a deeper line of combat into its many action sequences. While running around gunning down or smashing Stormtroopers to pieces for fun like a man or woman possessed still exists, each level now consists of a cover-based shootout, changing up the action momentarily. Upon entering such a scenario, players are forced to take cover behind walls or fallen trees as enemies line up ahead of them. There’s a decent level of movability at hand when encountering one of these moments as you pick and choose moments to pop in and out of cover in order to pick off a Stormtrooper or destroy a significant object. The new action sequences are a nice change from the usual run and gun madness of previous games and are nicely balanced between cutscenes and puzzles.
What would a Star Wars game be without its aerial fights, the chance to pilot the infamous Millenium Falcon as Rey, Finn and BB-8 attempt to outmanoeuvre a First Order attack while escaping the sandy planet of Jakku?, how about the battle high above the beautifully scenic Takodana as Poe and an army of X-Wing pilots take to the skies to meet with a multitude of TIE Fighters?, it’s all available throughout LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens and it’s exciting, to say the very least. A combination of rail simulated fast and frantic chases with limited movement is well complimented by open world fighting where movement is far less restricted. While evidently the flight controls are not akin to that of Battlefront‘s Fighter Squadron, its moves are very similar and in keeping with each aircraft. As you soar through the bright blue sky as Poe you can evade enemy TIE Fighter’s with the simple tap of a button that shoots the Rebellion ship up into a loop, there is also the option to roll sideways to escape gunfire while being able to lock on to provide your own answer to any of the First Order’s varied attacks.
The implementation of the new features does leave the game feeling fresher when compared to its predecessors in the long-standing series, adding a new direction which overshadows the usual run of the mill puzzle solving, blockbusting action you’d expect from the LEGO series, sadly, old problems still linger and haunt the game. The A.I, for example, remains a problem. While LEGO allows for a fun, co-op experience, playing in single-player with a character who continuously gets stuck on the most random of objects, forcing the player to restart a puzzle is a little infuriating if not off-putting, as are the objects that mysteriously becoming glitched while attempting to move them from point A to B, which could force you all the way to restart a level with no checkpoints to speak of. Alas, once you’ve picked your controller up off of the floor and replaced the broken buttons TT Games have done so much right by the film, to put up with the games many, many glitches is part and parcel of playing a LEGO game.
Despite its obvious faults, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is comfortably one of the most enjoyable LEGO titles I’ve ever experienced. The game stays true to the film in every way possible, even allowing for a better insight into some areas not previously covered in the movie. A beautiful combination of engaging, yet utterly hilarious cutscenes with trademark puzzles and a mixture of new features to enjoy, The Force Awakens lures you in with all the charm of BB-8 while offering you the chance to engage in the roles of so many of the series much beloved characters, a childhood dream for most players. Full of action packed moments, Wookie Cookies and offbeat comedy, you’d happily look past the games bugs if only to pilot the Millenium Falcon once again.