As the title implies, this game is based off of the original Star Wars trilogy. That is episodes 4, 5 and 6 or “A New Hope”, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the Jedi” respectively. The story of the game follows the movies faithfully, though if you haven’t seen the movies, some of the story may be lost in the translation. Let’s face it, though, if you’re interested in this game then chances are you’re quite familiar with the films already.
The gameplay does not deviate from the successful formula of the first game. You step into the role of many mini-figures from the Star Wars universe and must traverse your way through levels themed on different parts from the movies. Each movie is divided into six different levels and most of them will let you play anywhere from two to about 6 or 7 characters at one time. Each character has their own set of abilities which allow you to manipulate certain items or access certain areas in the levels. A Jedi, such as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, have control of the force which allows them to move certain objects at a distance. Smaller characters, such as Ewoks and Jawas, can climb into small holes. Droids can interface with control panels to open doors and unlock other items. And Bounty Hunters and Storm Troopers can use certain security panels (luckily, throughout certain levels, you will find Storm Trooper and Bounty Hunter helmets which can help you to trick these security systems!)
Since there just aren’t as many Jedi in the original trilogy, all humanoid characters have been given the ability to build items. Throughout the game, you will find heaps of blocks which you must run up to and hold the button as your character feverishly assembles them into a pre-defined item, security panel, or even a door!
With few exceptions, R2-D2 and C-3PO for example, all characters have weapons with which to combat the enemy which, as in true Star Wars tradition, seems to be a never ending supply of nameless Storm Troopers! Most characters have blasters, while the Jedi, of course, have light sabers. These not only allow them to cut down their enemies but also deflect blaster shots adding a defensive element to seemingly offensive weapon.
The levels are very traditional platform fare. You have a number of puzzles requiring you to find hidden levers or assemble platforms for characters to fire a grapple hook from. More often then not, these involve simply smashing all the items you can find and watch as they explode into a cornucopia of shattered Lego bricks. These explosions are a little unsettling sometimes, triggering long repressed memories of siblings smashing prized Lego creations on your hard kitchen floor.
Many levels also feature different vehicles and creatures for your character to ride around on, from dewbacks in Mos Eisley to tauntauns on Hoth and the two legged giant robot AT-ST on Endor. There’s even a few odd vehicles snuck in there such as race cars and tractors of all things. Just little things to lighten the mood of the game and keep it fun. These vehicles and creatures are fun to roam on and, in many cases, are necessary. Most characters just don’t have the fire power that an AT-ST has and that can come in very handy when a seemingly unbreakable wall is standing in front of you.
In addition to the regular levels, one level from each episode lets you dive into one of the many ships from the films! Unlike the previous game where these levels were completely “on rails” (you could really only move from side to side on a pre-set course), these give you full control over your ship on a flat plane so while you have much more control, it is not a full 360 degrees of freedom. From piloting a Lego Millennium Falcon to stepping into the cockpit of Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter, these missions are a welcome diversion and add a little bit of spice and variety to the full product.
Another addition is the ability to create custom characters. I’m sure we’ve all wanted to see what Chewbacca would like wearing Leia’s metal bikini slave outfit! Well, now’s your chance...if that’s your thing, of course. You can select from generic Lego figure parts or use those from the Star Wars gang. These figures will then be available in Freeplay mode which allows you to run around a level after beating it successfully in the story mode. While this is an interesting little feature, I didn’t really see the point behind it. For me, the fun is playing as the different Star Wars characters, not some bastardized version.
While the actual game is not very long, though a fair bit longer then the first in the series, there is a wealth of incentives to replay through many of the levels. As you destroy objects, they generate “studs” which you can spend to unlock new characters or “extras” (cheats). In addition, throughout each level are 10 pieces of a mini-kit which, when you collect them all, will create a Lego ship from the Star Wars universe for you to admire. In addition, once you’ve completed an Episode, you can even pilot these ships in a fun little mini-game. There is also two player drop-in/out co-op available as well, which means that another player can simply join and leave whenever they want without the need to reset a level. Unfortunately, there is no Xbox Live! support for the co-op, a feature which would definitely have been very welcome.
What would a Star Wars game be without the familiar John Williams soundtrack? With cues taken right from the movies, all the familiar themes will kick at the appropriate time and as the action picks up or calms down. In addition, most sound effects are all lifted straight from LucasFilm’s library, adding that credibility behind all the elements. For those who wanted to know, yes, a Lego Millennium Falcon sounds just like the real one.
Once again, Lego Star Wars delivers a great, funny and fun game. Its light-hearted approach makes it accessible for your younger kids while the nostalgia appeals to us older kids, as well. It’s not a complicated game by any stretch, but what it lacks in depth makes up for in sheer fun. The force is strong with this one!