Every so often, a few of the things I love converge into one glorious thing to become something truly special. If you’ve been with this blog for a while, you know that I have a soft spot for LEGO’s and especially LEGO video games. Today marked the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has given me all the joy of a ten your old boy. While I am no where near the completion of the game, I thought I might offer some thoughts on my early experiences with the game and just why it is so darned special.
Within the first hour of LEGO Star Wars I lived through the battle of Endor. First, I was paired up with Han, Leah, Chewbacca and a whole team of Ewoks in order to thwart the Imperial decimation of the planet. While this started with simply crushing AT-ST’s by using large logs and other tricks from Episode VI, it eventually culminated in getting to drive an AT-ST and rain chaos down on the screaming Stormtroopers below. From here, we jumped to the Death Star where we got to play as Darth Vader and Luke as we tried to take down the Emperor, using all manner of force powers and lightsaber throwing prowess.
Pretty soon, we were sent out into space for the final assault on the Death Star in a frantic maddening space battle which eventually led into the Death Star and out again once we had set off the final chain reaction that would destroy it. A ground battle. A lightsaber duel. And a space war. This was all in the matter of an hour. The prologue I should mention. This alone was one of the best single levels I’d ever played through in a LEGO game and it made my mouth water for more.
If you’ve ever played a LEGO video game, you’ll know the mechanics here well. You blow stuff up, to collect LEGO studs while trying to find hidden secrets in levels and solving puzzles in order to progress. All of that is here, but with slight variations that mix up the formula. A classic mainstay of the series is to destroy a few structures and then rebuild them into something new to solve a puzzle. Now, for many of these, you’ll get a choice as to what to build to solve your problem. This opens up something that the LEGO games have never really been so great at: Choice. Suddenly I am given the option of deciding how I want to handle a situation.
While fighting in LEGO games has progressively gotten more interesting over the years, nothing prepared me for the crazed cover-shooting of some of the battles on land in this game. Your character will cover behind something heavy to avoid laser fire and then jump out when they get the chance to fire at oncoming baddies. It’s fast and fun and almost has an edge of competition between you and your fellow player. While it’s not the most refined third person cover shooter mechanic, it does make for a huge step up to simply running around and clubbing enemies with your little LEGO hands.
Oh and the space battles. THE SPACE BATTLES YOU GUYS! A few years ago, a LEGO Star Wars game was released chronicling the Clone Wars TV show. I remember that the star fights were simply circling around a central set piece and being able to move up or down on the screen to shoot. How we used to find fun in that, I will never know thanks to these battles. You are piloting the ship and flying through the battle and in many ways I felt like I could go anywhere, do anything. I could flip my vehicle to do a sudden turn, barrel roll to avoid fire and weave in and out of ginormous ships. It just feels so amazingly freeing and rivals the gameplay of Star Wars: Battlefront which, you know, is a big deal!
One final thing I’ll mention is that unlike LEGO Avengers: Age of Ultron, so far I feel that both players are given equal opportunity to solve puzzles and feel like they are accomplishing something. With the previous game, I felt like whole levels went by with player two doing little more than picking their nose. That’s not the case here. I relied on Carl to open the next door, just like he relied on me to create a path for him to move forward. There’s a real sense of teamwork here and that’s a wonderful thing to see.
I’ve still got a ways to go in the game, and I hope to update you further with exciting things that surprise us as well as the DLC and how it fares with the rest of the game. Yet so far, I can honestly say that if you like LEGO or Star Wars or both, you should probably just start playing this. The force is calling to you. Let it in.
Check out the trailer below: