TT Games has its Lego franchise down to a science at this point. Lots of lighthearted humor, a license of some sort, a gigantic pile of characters, an overworld that encourages poking around and finding new stuff, it’s all here in their latest game. It’s an adorable time, but perhaps a bit of an overlong one.
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Windows)
Really, it’s a Lego game; you know it’s not going to push graphics, aside from having some elaborate Lego builds to explore as a minifig. Brickfiends will probably obsessively pick apart the games’ elaborate construction, but for everybody else, it’s serviceable but nothing mindblowing. They continue the ongoing tradition of hiding gags all over the game, which makes it adorable fun.
The audio is a whole other matter. Not only did Telltale get John Williams’ score, not only did they get all the dialogue from the movie straight from its files, they got the cast to come in and record incidental lines to throw into the game. They even brought back Admiral Ackbar’s voice actor! It’s almost disconcerting how good this game sounds, and it does quite a bit to draw you in.
They’re not really reinventing the wheel, here. There are a few notable new mechanics, like a simple cover shooter bit that comes up every level like a substantially cuter Gears of War, and now you can assemble little piles of Lego into different machines to solve puzzles, called Multi-Builds. But otherwise this is the usual light combat, platforming, and smashing the series is known, and loved, for.
As this is a mature series, the basics are down pat, and the game itself is brisk and delightfully simple. It’s designed for all ages to play, so you’re not going to find the brain-grinding physics puzzles or tough platforming of other games. But they do a good job of shaking things up every level with puzzle bits, action sections, dogfighting, rail shooting, and more. Each level is varied enough that there’s always something to do, the controls are intuitive, and Telltale quietly keeps the game largely two dimensional. It often feels like a classic arcade game, as a result. And the exploration, where you mostly just fool around and try to find new minifigs and gold bricks, is a hoot.
That said, there are a few quirks in the execution that the game could stand to address. To start with, the game is a bit stingy with the checkpoints, meaning if you have to put it down and come back, you’ll be replaying a section. If you want to invert the flight controls, for some reason, the game won’t save that particular setting and you’ll have to configure it every time. It also can be a bit confusing in the menus; figuring out how to use Free Play is slightly annoying.
The big problem is really that the game feels a bit padded relative to other Lego games. The last two Lego Star Wars games had three movies each to play with. This just has the one, plus the multitude of side missions that fill in the gap between Episodes VI and VII. There’s plenty of humor to smooth the way, but this still feels a bit incomplete.
The main quest you’ll cruise through in six to ten hours, depending on whether you’re at the controls and whether you search out every stud and minikit. The real meat of the game is in exploring its various levels, and that can take hours of your time.
PlayStation players get free DLC in the form of Droids, which will likely rankle some players. And there is DLC for the game incoming, but thankfully nothing feels missing.
This won’t be the game of the year, but this is a well-executed game for families with an excellent sense of humor. If you’re looking for something fun, especially during the gaming doldrums of summer, this will more than fit the bill.