previews\ May 9, 2006 at 8:00 pm

LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy - PS2 - Preview

E3 2006 First Look Preview

By now you’ve heard that, in response to the enormous popularity of the LEGO Star Wars title, LucasArts is developing LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. As you can imagine, it’s entirely based on the original saga George Lucas created over 30 years ago. Every ounce of content comes from the Star Wars universe. The humor, unbeatable gameplay and unforgettable features come from everyone’s favorite building block.

Several versions were unveiled today, including a shinier, prettier version for Xbox 360. Running in high-definition, the Xbox 360 version will undoubtedly win the contest for which version looks the best. The PSP version, however, may surprise fans with its exclusive content: mini-games, Challenge Mode, and a special, yet-to-be-titled mode that lets you battle all of the bosses from the original LEGO Star Wars game. And you can only find those features on the PSP, making the thought of owning a console version and one for your Sony handheld almost too good to resist.

I got to wrap my hands around the PSP version for a brief time and it played and looked great. The wide screen gives you a greater view of the environments. The analog controls are silky smooth and easy for anyone to pick up and play at any time. Musically the game is pure classic, and the sound effects are definitely something you’ll want to pay attention to. The effect of seeing LEGO pieces scatter upon the destruction of one of your own is as hilarious as it is disappointing. “Oh no, not again! I guess I’ll have to build another…”

Actually the game does that for you, replacing characters immediately after being destroyed. I do not believe you get an infinite number of lives, but you do get second chances.

Two to four characters can be in your party at one time. This is an integral part of the gameplay, especially the puzzle-solving aspect. There might be a locked door that only R2-D2 can operate. Or you might encounter an object that only a lightsaber can penetrate. LucasArts used the PS2 and Xbox 360 versions to illustrate this point, with beautiful and comical effects following many of the scenarios. Chewbacca enjoys a good arm-ripping and will do so to destroy pesky enemies (Stormtroopers, etc.). C-3PO has been seen hopping around on one leg after losing the other. Facial expressions are based on the simplistic, 2D faces painted on the real plastic heads.

Speaking of plastic heads, you can choose from a variety of heads (and hair, torso, leg, cape, and other pieces) when designing your own character. That character will then become playable in any part of the game.

Star Wars vehicles can also be built for battle. It’s done automatically just by triggering your force powers after finding the right LEGO pieces (interactive objects are highlighted with a blue [light force] or red [dark force] hue). LucasArts showed off an impressive landspeeder, as well as a battle between two AT-STs. First the AT-ST had to be built, and before that the pieces had to be acquired. It was a great scene – when the vehicle was finally completed, a Stormtrooper snuck in and took it for a spin. After taking him out (use your Force powers) the AT-ST will be yours to control. That’s when another AT-ST arrived, looking for a fight. The results were explosive, graphically rich, and a lot of fun to watch. Given how entertaining the game is just to look at, and how much fun my brief moments with the PSP version were, I know I won’t be able to put down the final version when it ships worldwide (for Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, PSP, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, and PC) on September 12th.


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