Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga Review
Written : Wednesday, March 12, 2008
By: Matthew Leach (GT: P1n x360a)
Although the Star Wars films could be described as a genre defining sci-fi epic, the games based around the Star Wars universe however have been a mixed bag at best. When Traveller's Tales released the original Lego Star Wars back in 2005 for the first time we had the chance to play along with the actual events shown in theatres (albeit the “prequel” trilogy). This was then followed up the year after by the original trilogy which gave the better loved movies the Lego treatment. Now anyone who has played either of these previous two iterations of the series will be familiar with the irreverent sense of humour and tongue-in-cheek take on the movie storylines that Lego Star Wars features, and with The Complete Saga it remains intact.
Traveller's Tales is a company who is no stranger to film franchise games with movie tie-ins such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo under its belt. Its use of the Lego license to retell the Star Wars saga was quite a departure from the normal film tie-in game that we have become used to. It’s fair to say that the combination of a toy for children combined with a film franchise that holds a place dear in so many people hearts was a welcome breath of fresh air to a genre that was in danger of becoming stale. Cut scenes in the game are more ‘re-imaginings’ than true copies of scenes from the film. All the characters that appear in these scenes are mute conveying emotions through a combination of mumbling and slapstick comedy routines. The cut scenes are amusing at first but a button to skip them would be a welcome addition particularly after having viewed them multiple times.
With no speech, facial expressions are everything.
If you have played either of the previous two games in the Lego Star Wars series you will feel instantly at home when first picking up the pad. The control scheme is near identical. Playing in a third person perspective the main gameplay mechanic is a series of single button presses to jump, use your weapon, and use the force/build items from piles of Lego found lying around. This simple pick up and play system makes it very easy for first time players as well as children to jump straight into the action but can become tedious after a while. In free play mode the Y button is used to swap between various characters too. Light sabres can be used to deflect incoming blaster bullets and when timed right will reflect back to the enemy that fired them. New to The Complete Saga is the unblockable combo that Jedi can utilise, encouraging the player to time the button presses rather than hammer X and hope for the best! At times (especially during co-op play) the camera can be a hindrance sometimes making it difficult to judge your position in the air when jumping to a platform or manoeuvring a space ship. This has led me to be pulled by the edge of the screen to my death or render me unable to see an attack coming which can be frustrating.
The Moss Eisley cantina is used as a main menu in the game. Various doors are available to select which film the player wishes to play. With six films comprising six chapters each there is plenty of choice here. Also in the cantina you will find a garage where you can view any vehicles you have managed to unlock, and two ‘cryo tubes’ where players can mix and match different legs, torsos, weapons and hats to create a new (and at times hideous!) character to play with. A visit to the bartender will also allow the purchase of tips, which it must be said are largely useless to all but the most novice of player. Of far more use is the ability to purchase bonuses such as super blasters or stud multipliers after finding the relevant ‘red brick’ during each chapter.
Is this thing broken?
When initially starting the game only the first chapter of episode one is available, upon completion of this chapter the first chapter of every other episode is available allowing the player to relive the movies in all manner of combinations. Each chapter first needs to be played in ‘story mode’ meaning that you take control of characters that you would expect to see in the movies. Upon completion of story mode free play is unlocked, so if you have ever wanted to see a showdown between Boba Fett and Darth Vader, now is your chance! The main aim of each chapter is obviously to make it to the end in order to unlock further chapters to progress, but contained within each chapter are a number of ‘studs’ (the small round Lego pieces). These are seen lying around each level and are also collected by smashing, building or building then smashing various parts of scenery. Jedi also have the ability to use the force to build/move various parts of the scenery. Collecting studs can become tiresome after a while, especially as the studs only gravitate towards the player when stood very close to them. So running around after bouncing studs will become a chore. New to the series however is a power up that not only increases the damage done by your weapons but also increases the vacuum effect your characters have and makes stud collecting temporarily easier. Stud collection is essential in order to buy bonuses or attain ‘true Jedi’ status in a particular chapter and will become an integral part of the completionist’s gameplay.
Also hidden in each chapter are ten ‘mini-kits’ which when collected come together to form a vehicle that can be used in freeplay mode, as well as admired in the garage outside the cantina. Collecting mini-kits, unlocking freeplay mode and attaining true Jedi status will reward the player with gold bricks that can be used to construct doors in the cantina which when entered contain bonus levels for a chance to collect yet more studs and edge ever closer to that elusive 100% completion. A nice touch is the inclusion of a trailer for the upcoming “Lego Indiana Jones” game and after viewing it you will be awarded with the Lego incarnation of Indy to play through the game with. The AI of your computer controlled allies will often have them stand rooted to the spot as they absorb laser fire as if it was foam darts. Luckily they seem to be largely invincible and on the rare occasion that they do get themselves killed it doesn’t impact on your stud total so it is at most a minor inconvenience. The enemy AI too can best be described as basic. Their main form of attack is to run to a few feet in front of you firing and awaiting their certain doom. Boss battles are different in so much as they follow a set routine of attacks that are quickly countered. This however has also been designed to accommodate the young and inexperienced and in doing so accommodates them well.
50+ playable characters across 6 movies. Which one is your favorite?
One of the best features of Lego Star Wars is the drop in, drop out co-op and finally Traveller's Tales have expanded this mode to include online play making it easy to team up with friends to complete chapters as a team. This is where the social aspect comes alive as you work together to complete levels together and makes stud collection much easier (or harder depending on the skill of your partner!) This unfortunately highlights the flaws in the camera system as at times the camera has to zoom out so much to keep both players on the screen it becomes extremely difficult to play the game at any kind of proficient level. The inclusion of a battle arena mode for two players is fun, but is massively outshone by the brilliant co-op mode.
The graphics in the game have been given a tweak since the last instalment and the difference is certainly apparent in 720p and above. Blocks are shinier and the lighting on the levels is top notch. The characters look true to their real life Lego counterparts and the way the scenery and vehicles look like they are made entirely of Lego has been really well done. Even during larger battles with lots of characters and vehicles on screen all firing blasters, swinging lightsabres and blowing up various pieces of scenery slowdown never became an issue. I did notice quite a large amount of screen tearing at times and although this was not exactly a hindrance it was distracting. Scenes set in vehicle levels are really well presented with lots of life in the background giving a fantastic sense of depth and really added to the overall experience of being engaged in an all out space battle.
Chewie doesn't really roar...
The sound in this game is recreated very well from the movies, from the iconic theme music right down to the cantina band playing their famous tune. During gameplay the music is context sensitive in that it becomes faster and more tense when you engage in battle, and reverting to a mellower score during most other times. Fans of the films will appreciate how the background music is taken from the films whereas people who are less familiar with the theatrical releases maybe somewhat underwhelmed by what might be seen as rather dull background music.
To conclude, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a fantastic addition to any Star Wars fan’s collection. It is simple enough for new players to grasp the gameplay in minutes, but has enough depth to keep even the most dedicated players busy and occupied for hours. Even those who are not a fan of the films will find something to enjoy.
Iconic theme music, faithfully recreated sound effects and nice subtle touches are let down by slightly dull music in places.
Saying it looks blocky in this case is a complement! Looks great in high def but some screen tearing is disappointing.
Pickup and play gameplay is fun and easy to grasp. Unfortunate camera problems let it down slightly.
Overall a well put together homage to Starwars told through the medium of Lego. Ranging from funny to frustrating it will keep you coming back for more.
Merely completing the story will unlock less than half of the achievements here. A lot of dedication needed for the full 1000 although hats off to Travellers Tales as some of the achievements are really fun and original.
Fun is the name of the game here. Lots of fun for old and young players, made especially fun in co-op. Owners of the two earlier installments will find new levels and modes in which to explore.