LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy review
ADD Jedis Apply Inside
+ Simple gameplay makes it easy to pick up and play.
+ The Lego theme makes for some smile-inducing shenanigans.
+ Plenty of unlockables and a fair amount of length.
- Derivative gameplay does nothing to change the world.
- Cinematics are short and will absolutely confuse any player not familiar with the movies.
In a world where almost any game developer will grab popular licenses and stamp it with a cookie cutter to mass-produce a derivative slop pile of money-making mediocrity that would make Andy Warhol proud, it's extremely rare to find a title that does little more than take a worn-out formula and paint it with a new skin. In an ironic twist that's almost completely ridiculous, Lego Star Wars manages to be a double-tiered license tie-in (using both, you guessed it, Star Wars and Lego) that actually rises above its brethren as a cheap money-making generic.
Where the whole "A long time ago in a galaxy " schema has been done to death in other SW license games, LSW strives to separate itself from the crowd by taking absolutely nothing seriously. When storm troopers burst into several pieces from a swift punch of Princess Leia wearing a bikini, you know that something is out of the norm. Environments pop with imaginative Lego magic and characters are nothing if not expendable. Every element of the SW universe has been Lego-fied in a colorful and delightful explosion of cuteness. But it's in this simplicity that the world of wookies and ewoks becomes dumbed down to a level best suited for the very young.
The game stalls very little in getting right into the action. Before you can shake a stick at a Jawa, you're already in the game's "lobby" with little to no direction as to where you need to go and what you're supposed to do. ADD ensues as you have the ability to run around the Mos Eisely cantina and punch random pedestrians. Eventually you might find yourself in the first level that oddly enough happens to be the opening scene from the original SW episode. Tight controls compliment an automatic camera that does well to keep the action in focus and on the screen which immediately drive the player into a happy place where platforming mechanics actually work. Shooting locks onto enemies automatically, this both relieves the frustration of lining up the perfect shot but also reduces the game's difficulty (simply face a stack of enemies and start hammering the attack button). Jedis, while more fun to play with, lack the practicality of characters with blasters since they can only attack from short range; making them extremely vulnerable to the copious amounts of distant enemies that assault you. No worries, though. The game has been stripped of formal elements of difficulty to the point where there are no "Game Over" screens. Dying has no other consequence aside from taking away some of your Lego blocks (which are used as the game's points/currency). Every enemy and almost every item in the environment explodes into a flurry of little Lego pieces which you can collect to use later to unlock any of the abundant extras (such as new levels, characters, etc.). This leads to an emphasis on shooting, breaking, smashing, and slashing just about everything in the game to collect the shiny pieces of material bliss that clingle and jingle to the sweet sounds of galactic capitalism. For some, the endless quest to collect trivial pieces of shiny plastic just to see the game's progression percentage inch closer and closer to 100 might be a delightful waste of time. But for more sophisticated gamers that seek more substance, the act becomes all too boring all too quickly.
Outside of the jumping, shooting, and item collecting, the game packs in a small amount of puzzle solving that does little to strike at the crown of the Zelda series. Nevertheless, they are blended seamlessly into the gameplay, breaking up the monotony of shooting endless hoards of enemies. Vehicle sequences also add to the variety, but the overly simplified controls spoil much of the fun. Flying X-wings around the surface of the Death Star and piloting Snow Speeders just feet off the frozen tundra of Hoth become chaotic shooting galleries that offer little challenge, as holding down the attack button unleashes all hell on your brain-dead enemies. Difficulty becomes a major problem throughout the entire game, as the fundamentals of the word "challenging" become lost in the fuzz. Most of the challenge stems from just trying to figure out what you're supposed to do next.
Gameplay: 4. 3D platforming is simplified in a practical way that makes for both fun and somewhat challenging romps through shiny plastic worlds. Basic fundamentals work well, engaging a wide variety of gameplay mechanics that are introduced in logical intervals.
Control: 4. It's hard to complain but it's also hard to highly praise such a simple control system. Most characters handle nearly identically but at the end of the day, everything works the way it's supposed to.
Story: 3. The actual story of Star Wars is pushed to the side as snips and clips of real scenes from the movie are condensed into short bursts of Lego zaniness. If you're familiar with the movies, these nearly incomprehensible renditions will tickle and delight.
Graphics: 3. Yeah, I know that there's only so much you can do with Lego blocks, but the environments lack a certain feel that the SW universe should emanate. Also, levels progress forward in an almost constraining, linear fashion. Some nice bump mapping and bloom effects compliment the worlds nicely, however.
Sound: 3. Generic blasting sounds, grunts, and explosions lack any sense of immersion.
Lifespan: 3. Only those with an affinity for all things shiny will want to take the time to stockpile a healthy sum of Lego blocks to unlock all of the extras. Levels have surprising length and offer a decent degree of exploration, but after time passes all of the levels tend to blend into each other. Personally I lost interest before actually completing the game.
FunFactor: 3. While the game offers plenty of smiles and classic platforming mechanics, the game is seriously lacking in the originality department. The game offers nothing that hasn't been done better in other games and eventually the repetitive nature of collecting plastic pieces bogs the game down.
Lasting Impression (Independent Score): 3. It was a delightful surprise to find a licensed game that didn't simply tack on the Star Wars name to make a quick buck, but after some extensive playtime I found my attention diverted to other titles.
I had some fun with the game even though my interest waned fairly quickly. It's a good pick up and play title that will please most Star Wars fans of any age. It's hard to recommend anyone to avoid this game completely, but its lack of any tangible depth leaves much to be desired.
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