Here’s the thing about TT Games’ LEGO video games: if you’ve played one of them then you’ve essentially played them all. If you want to be ultra-jaded you could say something like, “well that applies to every game franchise on the planet,” but it seems more noticeable with the LEGO games for some reason. Those core gameplay mechanics have been around forever. They might get a tiny nip and tuck here or there depending on the franchise that forms the subject matter, but essentially we’re playing the same games.
So how on Earth has the LEGO video games series lasted this long and remained so undeniably popular? Two reasons: the series has charm, and an unquenchable need to never take itself seriously.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is, of course, the obligatory LEGO Star Wars game that ties in with the most recent film. We’ve had LEGO game releases for every Star Wars movie already, so why stop now? Expect LEGO Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to be announced a few months into 2017.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t deviate from tried-and-tested LEGO game mechanics. You’ll follow the events of the movie, with a couple of added story elements and locations to beef up the gameplay. Each character has unique abilities that must be utilised in order to solve the simple puzzles and progress through the narrative. Combat is a mix of ranged and melee attacks that work well but never get particularly demanding; typical LEGO game stuff really. That being said, the game does add in new cover-based combat sections during which you’ll stick to cover and pop out to shoot First Order Stormtroopers until a kill count has been satisfied. In some cover-based encounters you’ll need to take on bigger enemies that require some basic puzzle solving to complete. It works pretty well, and while it at least adds a new mechanic to the series, the novelty wears off rather quickly.
As with most of the more recent LEGO video games (LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, The LEGO Movie Videogame etc.) the heart of the game really opens up once you’ve played your way through the events of The Force Awakens. Once the credits roll (which, incidentally, you should watch) you’ll be able to return to the numerous story levels and large hub worlds in order to chase down all those collectibles and character unlocks. There are tons and tons and tons of things to collect and unlock. In total there are 213 characters, and 85 ships and vehicles to unlock. On top of that you’ve got gold bricks to find (which you can then use to unlock new story missions that add to the events of the film), red bricks to find, little Han Solos in carbonite to collect, and so on. There are races to complete, bounty hunts to fulfil, First Order missions to finish… the list could go on. If you’re planning on completing this game in its entirety, get ready to sink a considerable amount of time into it.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a solid entry into the LEGO video games IP. It wins bonus marks for getting the actors from the movie to provide new lines of dialogue just for this game. Daisy Ridley, Jon Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie – basically everyone who was in the film actually took the time to head into a recording studio to provide voice-acting work for their digital LEGO doppelgangers. It’s remarkable if you think about how busy all these actors must be.
What will stick with me the most, however, are the numerous in-jokes and VERY DORKY references to the most obscure Star Wars facts found scattered throughout the game. And it’s not just Star Wars references: Han Solo makes Indiana Jones references on more than one occasion, and there’s a perfectly timed James Bond reference because Daniel Craig had a secret role in The Force Awakens.
The game has very much been put together with geeky Star Wars fans in mind. There is a lot to look out for and enjoy in this regard. Things like: hearing Han Solo tell Finn that he “doesn’t have to wait for them to shoot first”; or noticing little details like Finn’s respirator using the same sound effect that C-3PO uses for Vader’s breathing, during his story in the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi. Have I mentioned before that I’m a massive Star Wars dork? Because I’m a massive Star Wars dork.