LEGO STAR WARS

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Review – Feel The Co-Op Within You

In my household, the expectations for this LEGO game have been built up. Bigger than a UCS Millennium Falcon #75192. My two sons, Luke and Ben, are budding master builders of actual physical bricks and TT Games’ full catalog. And when it comes to Star Wars, well, they were sired by a Sith who covertly manipulated events to get them named after his favourite Force users. By the time anybody caught on, it was way too late.

So yeah, we’re a triumvirate of veterans who really wanted LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga to be a new hope, not another half-baked clone. You can imagine our surprise, then, when we played a fully armed and operational reimagining that represents a Force-jump in evolution for this franchise.

LEGO STAR WARS

It’s important to manage expectations on Skywalker Saga from the get go, however. For starters, it’s not simply an up-rezzed, level-for-level remake of 2007’s LEGO Star Wars The Complete Saga. Obviously, that game only covered six films as opposed to the full complement of nine movies here. And though you’ll spot a tiny handful of similar gameplay sections and reused cutscene gags, this is very much a page one rewrite of the greatest Star Wars piss-take this side of Spaceballs.

For seconds, you’re getting full VO this time around (calm down, there’s a mumble mode for you purists). With a few exceptions, the soundalike actors they went with are excellent. They nail the little inflections your brain expects when hearing those classic movie lines for the umpteenth time.

LEGO STAR WARS

Lastly, when we talk of mechanical upgrades, what’s been done isn’t the equivalent C3PO getting a red arm after ten years—somebody has taken a serious hydrospanner to the combat and class systems. They’ve even bolted on a universe scale sandbox—24 planets with three or so settlement areas apiece, orbit arenas encircling each world, and an absolute bantha load of collectables.

Honestly, what’s here makes the 2000s games look like LEGO DUPLO Star Wars.

If you’ve somehow never played one of TT Games’ titles, you should know that they’re best consumed in 2P split-screen co-op. (Online would have been nice, but it’s somehow gotten the saber chop.) Play this (Han) solo or with “another” as a Force-dyad, and the experience will be relatively the same: slapstick melee/pew-pew combat, mass destruction of property, some class-specific puzzling and simplified jumpy-jump platforming. However, with two people, you can have these emergent, low-stakes frenemy fights along the way.

LEGO STAR WARS

Understanding that everybody Stans a particular trilogy, TT has wisely opted to let you kick off at the three generational entry points of Phantom Menace, A New Hope or The Force Awakens. If you stick to the breadcrumbed objectives markers and ignore the many, many opportunities to go off track, you can clock a single movie in roughly an hour and a bit.

That runtime is roughly in line with the prequel and OG LEGO Star Wars titles which spun their respective trilogies out into four hour campaigns each. Mind you, when you consider we got a 6-hour story from a single film, LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens, Skywalker Saga feels like it’s paced like a pod race.

LEGO STAR WARS

On a more positive note, there are the many enhancements I alluded to earlier. There’s now a four-button combo system that thwarts button mashers while monetarily rewarding speed, consistency and timely counter presses. Gunplay includes a cover system, body part damage, gun crate “trade-up” weaponry, and a third-person cam that requires some recoil control. Though it has to be said that the latter frequently reduces you to squinting through an X-rayed version of your avatar to get a good shot off.

As you’d expect, your fisticuff capabilities are determined by the unique class-type of your current minifig—Jedi, Hero, Scavenger, Scoundrel, Bounty Hunter, Villain, Dark Side, Astromech, Protocol or ‘Extra’. Including DLCs there are 380 characters, each of them offering a means to circumvent specific environmental obstacles, decipher new quests or just fold in a cool combat skill. Case in point: using Jedi to fully possess enemies.

LEGO STAR WARS

Oh, and it’s also worth mentioning that there’s a sprinkle of stealth in here, too. You can slowly acquire stormtrooper armour to go incognito or stay out of enemy vision cones in these My First Metal Gear sections. Like most of the game, there’s not a huge amount of depth or challenge to any of it, but TT earns solid points for mixing it up.

If your pants piece ever gets tired of legging it everywhere, you can always whip out your holoprojector and take to the stars. While this game is no danger of being mistaken for Rogue Squadron IV or a mini No Man’s Sky, the dogfighting and level of freedom impressed me quicker than the mishap had in the droid assembly line level.

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LEGO STAR WARS

You can get nice little space battles going with your favourite starship, each of them with the ability to roll, boost and lock on with homing torpedoes. The orbit areas around every planet are decently populated with asteroid fields, multi-ship dogfights, spawning aces, Capital ships to board, and stud comets to vaporise.

Even though I had to finish this on a deadline tighter than a mynock’s embrace, I got led astray by the side-opportunities in Skywalker Saga. Let’s do this by the numbers: if you want to earn the mysterious 100% completion reward, you need to tick off 225 minikits, 135 level challenges, 140 side missions, 731 puzzles, 38 trials and 10 challenges. One of the latter is my personal favourite, a Wandering Wookie who repeatedly Where’s Wallys his furry butt around this colossal universe.

LEGO STAR WARS

Double—possibly triple-digit—hours of quality gameplay aside, Skywalker Saga isn’t without some misses. In the movie retellings, some barely significant parts in the series are given altogether too much screen time. Quick example: you have to physically hop in an X-wing after exploding Jabba to fly into orbit, go through a light speed load, land on Dagobah, and do an uneventful slog through the swamp to Yoda’s place to watch him die. Level complete.

Conversely, some cracking setpiece moments in the films can get lip-service in a cutscene, even though they’re fertile ground (read: a nice flat green piece) for gameplay. Quick example: the TIE escape with Poe and Finn gets a five second nod. That was a 10-minute affair in LEGO The Force Awakens.

LEGO STAR WARS

It also has to be said that the new upgrades system is thicker than a Hutt but roughly about as useless in places. The four odd perks for every class are heavily weighted towards making the incredibly simple combat even easier. I honestly forgot all about it until the end credits of Rise of Skywalker. You’ll probably invest in the perks that reward you with extra studs for doing [class-specific menial task here], then ignore the rest.

Oh, and if you’re playing co-op, may I suggest you quickly secure the significantly higher ground that is your first controller. Often will be the time when a climactic 1v1 boss battle reduces player two to that of an awkward extra. Typically that’ll be a droid who’s about as useful as a poodoo-flavoured lollipop.

LEGO STAR WARS

Be that as it may, the positives more than outweigh the negatives with this game. Genuinely humorous games are in painfully short supply in our medium, and Skywalker Saga is one of the rare few that can make you chortle like Salacious Crumb on red cordial. When it comes to mission titling and Easter Eggs in the sandbox, this game has clearly been made by a bunch of super nerds whose meme game is utterly on point.

Likewise, the slapstick antics in the mid-mission movies are brilliant. Quick example: Han telling his co-pilot to punch it, whereupon Chewie misinterprets and hauls off into C3PO’s face. We’ve all wanted to do it at some point. Let’s be honest.

LEGO STAR WARS

The good times elevate even more when you factor in the stupid fun of co-op, particularly if you do literally Force lift your friend over a chasm and let them drop. Even better, there are a host of ludicrous bonus modes to chase, like “pew pew” sound effects, baguette sabers and a universe-wide rave dance. These are the rewards that make the blue milk worth the massive bantha squeeze.

THE PS5 VERSION WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
LEGO STAR WARS
Conclusion
When the twin suns set on my time with LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga, it was obvious to me that this production is lavished with love and worth every stud of its asking price. I've been around the block(s) with TT's games for some 15 years now, and this is without a doubt the best thing they've ever snapped together. If you're a gamer who’s young or young-at-heart-container, I'd be very surprised if this didn’t instantly click with you.
Positives
Insane amount of collectables/ships/minifigs
9 hilarious retellings with high production values
Lots more mechanical depth and sandbox space to use it all in
Still the most widely accessible and entertaining co-op in gaming
Negatives
Some sections feel poorly tuned, end quickly
One or two load bugs/game freezes
8.5
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