The Star Wars
franchise was the very first to receive the LEGO
treatment years ago. Since then, the LEGO
games have evolved tremendously, implementing dialogue, giant hub spaces, shiny graphics and more. While this is the case, they have never truly left their roots and so each instalment has been extremely similar in design, only changing to fit the source material. The latest franchise to be transformed into bricks is Star Wars
once again, but this time The Force Awakens
is the complete focus. Kylo Ren, BB-8, Rey, Finn and even Admiral Ackbar star in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
, but is it worth returning to the ongoing gaming franchise? LEGO Star Wars: TFA
follows the story of Episode VII in the Star Wars
film series from start to finish, with classic LEGO tropes implemented throughout. Condensing the film down to 11 levels (plus a prologue from the older films) isn't necessarily the easiest of tasks, but TT Games seems to have done a good job in this instance as the game manages to capture the memorable moments and follows the film without missing out a great deal. Despite being tied to a film and so having to follow that story, LEGO Star Wars: TFA
is still able to get creative. As well as the main story levels, there are extra levels that can be unlocked once enough gold bricks are acquired. These levels play out the same way as the main ones but tell new stories. These are designed to help fans to fill in a few gaps with particular parts of the film and they expand both the richness of the story and the content of the game itself. This means that in total there are 18 levels, all with cutscenes and multiple areas and challenges to tackle.
The core gameplay in LEGO
games has always remained the same throughout the years; solve puzzles with different characters, smack a few bad guys and smash up as much LEGO as humanly possible. That is all still here, but the game actually feels less frustrating than past instalments. There are rarely times when you are completely stumped as to what to do and this may sound like there is no challenge whatsoever. However, the developer has aimed to create a fun game rather than one that strains your brain, and that has come through. More enjoyment is found in these games when you are spending most of your time giggling and smashing things up instead of being halted by obscure puzzle solutions. Earlier LEGO
games relied heavily on goofy actions and expressions from characters as they didn't speak back then, and with dialogue now a staple of the franchise, cutscenes can come across as more serious than they used to be. Nonetheless, LEGO Star Wars: TFA
successfully squeezes in just enough comedy to keep the game lighthearted and true to the LEGO reputation. Whether that's walking in on a Stormtrooper pool party or characters dancing to the cantina music on top of their starship, the franchise still retains its humorous charm.
LEGO Star Wars: TFA The fate of the galaxy may be hanging in the balance, but there's always time to crack a joke
does bring some new mechanics to the table and you can see that the developers are proud of them because of how much they are used. The first of these is multi-builds. This is where a pile of bricks can be built into more than one object and you have the choice of what you build. One choice may create a path to a collectable while the other may become an object used to advance the way through the level. You will also need to utilise these builds to solve puzzles by creating all choices of objects at different points. Building objects from LEGO piles is one of the oldest tropes of the series, but this new take helps to keep a fresh perspective on a years-old portion of gameplay.
The other mechanic is completely new to the entire franchise, and this is blaster battles. At regular intervals, you will engage the enemy in cover-based shooting scenarios and will be tasked with destroying them all. This over-the-shoulder shooting has you aiming and firing at enemies, turrets and other objects while trying to survive the battle. You begin with a gold medal. Each death will take it down to a silver and eventually a bronze, earning you a matching amount of studs at the end. The game will often auto aim at an enemy for you, lessening the challenge somewhat, but you still need to aim at those who dodge or are finding cover for themselves. It's done rather well and there is a tactical element involved because of the desire to earn the best medal and so not perish in battle. They feel suitably fast paced and fit surprisingly well within a LEGO
game. It's something that will certainly be welcomed in future games in the franchise.
Don't go out of cover too long if you want that gold medal reward
Outside of the levels, the hub worlds have played an increasingly bigger part as the LEGO
games have evolved. Once a small transition area between levels, they are now brimming with collectables and missions for you to complete. LEGO Star Wars: TFA
goes down the route of having multiple hubs instead of one large one, but these smaller areas still have plenty to do. Various missions for certain types of characters can be completed, and even space battles with X-wings and TIE fighters can be fought both in and outside of the main story. The content doesn't feel extremely overwhelming, but at the same time there is just enough to keep you going. Taking the new mechanics into account as well, the gameplay feels more varied this time around and so the big collect-athon isn't quite as monotonous as it once was.
The Free-Play mode of the LEGO
games has always been the selling point for many as this is where you are free to play as any character you like, both in the hub worlds and levels. Past titles have allowed you to use unlocked characters in levels after completing them once, which is the same here, but what has now changed is free-play in hubs. The likes of the LEGO Marvel
titles gave you the chance to go into free-play before completing the story by changing characters at specific terminals. That has now gone completely; until you complete the story, you are restricted to the characters that you are given to progress. It's slightly disappointing as you are seemingly forced through the story, but this causes free-play to feel even more rewarding once you are given full freedom.
LEGO Free-Play gives you the chance to unleash the full power of the dark side
games in general have had a long struggle with glitches and bugs, and while they aren't always game-breaking, it's a shame that they occur in practically every instalment. LEGO Star Wars: TFA
is no different as a number of issues has arisen. One such instance had a boss enemy becoming invincible and so it was impossible to continue the level. The game also failed to load a save file upon booting it up and there was a freezing bug, too, but it was unclear as to whether this was down to the particular disc, the game in general or the Xbox itself. Thankfully, none of these glitches have blocked off content or collectables but there have been reports of unusual bugs for other players, so be careful not to fall into the unfortunate trap yourself.
There are 49 achievements in total in LEGO Star Wars: TFA
and it is a very typical LEGO
list. To bag them all, you will need to scour everywhere to grab every collectable and complete the game to 100%. Each level earns you its own achievement, and you also will need to do a few specific challenges and team certain characters with each other. There really isn't much else to say as it's a set of achievements that we've seen done before in the franchise plenty of times. It's a simple list if you want to get the completion.
SummaryLEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
will feel extremely familiar to those who have played a hefty amount of LEGO
titles. This isn't necessarily a bad thing by all accounts, though. The core gameplay remains the same and you will be solving simple puzzles and grabbing an infinite amount of studs with which to purchase items, but the introduction of blaster battles helps the game to feel unique by fitting perfectly within both the Star Wars
setting and the LEGO
franchise itself. Multi-builds also add another layer of depth and overall there is enough variety on offer to help ease the potential tedium in reaching that 100% completion. The lack of freedom in free-play before you finish the story can be a let down and bugs have crept through once again, but the game is an enjoyable experience. Despite its age, TT Games continues to breathe new life into the LEGO
franchise each year and brings both new and old fans in for some block-tastic action.
- Extra levels expand on the film's story
- Blaster battles are executed well and are highly enjoyable
- Content feels more varied this time around
- Limitations of Free Play before story levels are complete
- Bugs creeping through
The reviewer spent 14 hours playing through all levels, exploring the hubs and smashing up a ton of LEGO, all while earning 38 of the game's achievements. A physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.