Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and PS3
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Tt Games
You may be saying, "Ok, just another LEGO game, right? How much different can it be?" Well, the answer is surprisingly a lot different. Just like each LEGO game preceding it, Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduces some new elements into the game while remaining true to property its based on as well as the persistent charm of LEGO. This is not simply the movie with a LEGO makeover. While the film is obviously the focal point of the story, the game expands by letting us play through Han Solo and Chewbacca's smuggling days, how C-3PO got his red arm and Poe rescuing Admiral Ackbar among others.
LEGO games are known for the funny and charming voice innuendos in game and jokes to go along with it. Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduces not only this, but also a whole new host of lines from the film's stars. Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, and Adam Driver all provide new lines for the game while letting you play extensively in game parts that were only briefly shown in the movie. In the opening level of the game, you'll play through the part where Luke has to choose to fight his father or be killed by Palpatine. The LEGO charm in the game results with Luke saying "I will not fight you father" and handing him a hand drawn picture which makes Vader cry and throw Palpatine to his death.
It's little, creative things like this which really show the ingenuity behind the LEGO games.
It's got plenty of lore, but it's still a LEGO game
You'll learn about these new parts of the game (its content is nearly reminiscent of Encyclopedia Britannica), but you must remember what you're dealing with. It's a LEGO game so the core of its content will be based in film while tied around funny jokes. You may remember most LEGO games, most recently Marvel's Avengers, showing characters with pink milkshakes throughout the game. Star Wars: The Force Awakens provides the same basis, but this time it's Han Solo talking about "Wookie Cookies" because they are Chewbacca's favorite thing to eat.
Balancing out the game's story to what was shown in the films is always a priority for Tt Games and Warner in their games. As mentioned above, it's not just the film set in a game, but rather it's own funny story that players will want to follow, which is based on the film. Some scenes have extra gametime to them, while other game levels are obviously shortened from what we see in the film. It's all about the fun of the LEGO bricks while learning a little something. In fact, the manner in which Tt lets us as adults enjoy a game the same way in which a little kid learns from watching an education cartoon is truly fascinating, and it speaks to the kid at heart in all of us.
New mechanics and puzzles
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens also introduces two new mechanics that change the way in which combat plays in these games. For the most part, LEGO fighting has simply been "spam X" and hope for the best. Marvel's Avengers introduced team-up and super moves, and of course Star Wars: The Force Awakens enters the mix with cover based shooting and multiple builds. The cover based shooting is done extremely well. I mean, it's not like Gears of War as it's not that type of game. What LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens does is let you aim from cover simply by hitting the left trigger. This automatically targets an enemy, so there is no need to aim. After all, it's a LEGO game, and it does exactly what it is supposed to do. It introduces a new mechanic that is easy for children to learn how to use, while also striking a balance that lets adults enjoy it at while not feeling like a grind.
The multiple build puzzles are tricky at first, but you'll quickly get that "Oh, now I get it!" feeling as you experiment. These puzzles force you to figure out which of the two or three objects you need to build in order to reach a certain part of the level. Different orders of building gets you access to different areas, but just as in any LEGO game you'll need to beat it in a certain order to proceed to the next checkpoint. Free play mode is where these really shine, as some let you proceed while others grant you access to mini-kits or new characters.
Vehicle fights are done well in the air, but I was surprised with the amount of little glitches in the ground attack modes. In LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the dogfight controls are superb. Your X-wing or TIE Fighter fly effortlessly through the sky as you try to take down the Empire. Just as in any LEGO game, there are no real "deaths" as respawns are instantaneous. As a result, there wasn't any real strategy to the flying part, but it was a great counter-balance to the cover based shooting and trying to figure out when to pop out and when to duck.
Just under 200 characters again make their way into the game, continuing the trend of Marvel's Avengers, Jurassic World and Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. Only based on one movie for the most part, you'll have your 20 or 30 Stormtrooper variations along with Luke and other classics from the first six films. Many of these are just like previous LEGO games and simply the same abilities in a re-skinned character. The standard abilities are all there. Silver bricks are exploded, gold are melted, etc. The fun parts comes in how the new characters actually explode and melt the bricks. Kylo Ren is such an emo character in this game, that his freeze force move is more funny than anything else. Chewbacca's exploding gun sees him make the classic Chewie sound. Tt Games also implemented the best character ever in a LEGO game – BB-8. He is absolutely fun to control, and you'll find yourself just running around in order to hear his "beep-boops" over and over. He's used mainly to solve puzzles, but the fun factor alone makes him a repeated use character through out.
The only real bug I encountered was the ground vehicle glitch and getting stuck on certain rocks or hills, but other than that LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens went off without a hitch and didn't feel "forced" at all (See what I did there?).
It's a must play for all LEGO and Star Wars fans. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues the great correlation between film and game while tying in their own, unique twist. It somehow manages to maintain the classic Star Wars lore while integrating both educational and comedic variations.
In the hierarchy of LEGO games, I'd put it right below Marvel's Avengers, Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and Marvel Super Heroes. With such a vast library of games, top 4 is nothing to sneeze at. Pick it up when you get the chance as it really emphasizes the Star Wars lore fully equipped with the John Williams musical score.