It’s been a long while since I ventured into a console Lego game and it was a pleasant surprise to see that the calibre of these long standing, family friendly titles has never been better. Playing through Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens co-op with my 11yr old son was brilliant fun, and will undoubtedly be a great shared gaming experience we will both remember.
Long-time Lego games developer ‘Travellers Tales’ clearly love the source material, taking great care to maintain the Star Warsyness of the game, but have also taken some well placed liberties to integrate some clever puzzles and co-op centric gameplay. Over the 8-10hrs of the campaign my son and I were actually reliving the movie, all be it with a Lego twist.
All the cut scenes are voiced using the movies dialogue, giving a feeling of real authenticity. That said, in true Lego fashion, very little stays serious for long with great ‘goofs’ and ‘gags’ to lighten the moodier moments from the film. All the characters have some very funny moments, and the never ending antics of the Storm Troopers was a source of many a ‘laugh out loud’ moment for both me and my son.
Mechanically it feels like another Lego game, which is too say the same solid gameplay design is at its core. Progressing through a level in a shower of smashed Lego bits has a visceral reward buzz that anyone who knows the Lego games will instantly relate too. Building has had an update. Now a jumping pile of ‘build me’ Lego pieces can become multiple devices and often they have to be built in a specific order to allow each stage of the puzzle to be solved. This multi-stage puzzle design, combined with the team work needed to activate each built item, meant that my son and I were seldom on auto-pilot. We had to talk and discuss how to solve each puzzle or reach the next kit…….. which is exactly how a couch co-op game should be.
Here is a term I never thought I would use in a review of a Lego game. “Third person, cover based shooting”!?! Yep, often amidst a battle, our characters couched down behind walls and boxes and we had to take down storm troopers while moving from cover point, to cover point. That said, it’s a very ‘on-rails’ experience but still had a Star Wars sound and feel to the action. The other slick piece of design were the flying sections. Piloting the Millennium Falcon as Rey, while my son played as Finn in the gunner seat felt just like the movie. As did the huge air battle with X-Wings vs Tie fighters over the lake on planet Takodana. Flying levels are either loosely on rails or in open arenas, but all the craft feel friendly to control and I had a blast. Frankly, if I can fly’em, I suspect a 5 year old would have no problems at all.
Destructibility within each environment creates a sea of motion on the screen, I just wish is was easier to know what is, and is not, smashable. The mixture of Lego items and environmental art-work has always been a pet peeve of mine. I just want to be able to see a whole world made of Lego…and then smash it. That all said, my only real complaint is the save system, which unfortunately hasn’t changed in years. On multiple occasions we needed to be able to save mid-level, but couldn’t. It’s hard enough to nail down a spare 30mins to rip through a level with my son, and as any parent knows, life always manages to get in the way. Be it sport to get too, or dinner being ready etc.. the game had to be turned off mid-level, meaning we had to come back later and start that level all-over again. Granted the snooze function on a PS4 will get round this, but on our Xbox 1, we resorted to leaving the console running overnight so not to lose our progress. So there’s my only complaint and wish…save anywhere game-saves.
Overall I cannot recommend Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens highly enough. The story, voice work and levels are all ripped from one of THE BEST Star Wars movies so far. Then layer on top the fun of Lego, and Travellers Tales witty humour……you have an experience any gamer/parent will enjoy. Either as a co-op game to play with your kids or as a crash out title that offers few laughs. For me I have to say – it’s a must buy!