Let’s face it, we all know the story of The Force Awakens by now, but what’s most important about a Lego game is how it handles the events and characters of the story it’s trying to re-tell. In the case of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there is simply little to nothing negative that can be said about Traveller’s Tales’ charming and incredibly accurate coverage of the events of Episode VII.
Whilst the newest installment of the Lego Star Wars franchise may only cover a single film, this has given the developers at Traveller’s Tales the opportunity to create their most narratively-faithful and charming title to date, combining the events of the film (including the most part, which I won’t spoil) with the charm and humor that we’ve come to expect from the Lego IP. The Force Awakens isn’t just a faithful adaption of the franchise as of yet, but it manages to raise the bar quite a bit for future installments of both the Star Wars and unrelated titles within the Lego IP.The game does compensate at times for the fact that we’re only covering a single film’s worth of material, which mostly comes down to comic relief and smaller character moments, which sometimes work and sometimes they don’t, though most returning players might not be affected too much by it as newcomers would. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens on a narrative front is a charming, fun and faithful experience that won’t just appeal to Star Wars fans, but newcomers and Lego fans alike.
Players have grown to expect the same old song and dance when it comes to the graphical aspects of Lego games, though as of Lego Marvel’s Avengers the attention to detail and faithfulness to the visual representation of the source material has taken a pretty significant leap when it comes to visual fidelity and even cinematography. Scenes like the Millenium Falcon escape and the battle of Starkiller base are presented in incredibly familiar fashions, with some of the cutscenes being basically 1:1 framed recreations of the film itself, which lends a lot to the game in terms of authenticity.Textures and geometry detail in general, are what you’d expect from a Lego game, though the overall product does seem a lot more refined and technically capable than most of its predecessors. Cutscenes and aerial sequences like the Millenium Falcon escape, in particular, are quite stunning to look at considering the graphical formula the brand has been practicing the past few years.
Some of the most notable improvements lay in the lighting and the animations, which have taken a huge step forward. Characters, in particular, look much more alive and traversal looks and feels a lot smoother than we’re accustomed to from previous titles. Facial animations are what you’d expect, though that’s always been part of the charm of the brand. Smaller droids and characters also fill the screen as the recreation of the Star Wars universe truly does feel more alive than it has ever looked before in the Lego dimension (pun intended.)Analyzing the Lego games has always been a particularly hard thing to do, as the core of most of the titles does feel awfully familiar from game to game. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, however, does feel like one of the most renewing and well-forged titles that Traveller’s Tales has produced in the last few waves of their popular adaptions.
The strongest aspect of this newest installment is the fact that the game throws some much-needed diversity into the classic Lego gameplay formula, combining traditional platforming sections with intense dogfights and even shooter sections, which is something entirely new to the brand.The dogfights, in particular, are more well-crafted than you’d initially expect. Recreating iconic sequences such as the Tie-Fighter escape the game either puts you behind the wheel or in the shooting position as the game delves into extended dogfights that often rival the main gameplay sections in terms of gameplay design. Whilst the controls and combat systems are fairly simple in use and design, these levels simply feel like a joy to play as I piloted the Millenium Falcon in my escape from Jakku.
The second most noteworthy addition, in my opinion, was the inclusion of new Gears of War-like cover sections, which has the players take cover in shooting sections that are used to take care of heavily armed enemies. On paper, it may sound repetitive, but these sections are actually a pretty nice change of pace in some levels as they never really feel out of place , though in some cases the shooting mechanic itself does leave a lot to be desired.
There’s also a good amount of puzzles throughout the game, though some mini-games which include visual passwords and such to move on to the next part of the level do seem to get a bit repetitive after a while.
A lot of the core gameplay remains unchanged, though the formerly noted additions and a good and the puzzles keep the pacing fresh as you move throughout the film, which should take about 6 hours for the main story, with some additional time left to replay levels, find hidden objects and play side-missions that should complete your experience quite nicely.Quite frankly, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be the strongest title that Traveller’s Tales has given us as of yet when it comes to adapting popular franchises. Providing fun, renewing and diverse gameplay, the game more than makes up for its length by the fact that what’s there is just so fun to play. If there’s one Lego game you’re picking up this summer, you better make sure it’s The Force Awakens!
The PS4 version of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was primarily tested for the purpose of this review.