In a living room not far, far away a young padawan sits down for his very first time to play the TT Fusion developed LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released on June 28, 2016 across multiple platforms and marks the fifth installment in the LEGO Star Wars series. If you’ve ever played any of the LEGO video games you should have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into. Yes, I have played a few of the LEGO video games and that is why this Jedi will be reviewing the PS4 game with some help from his young Padawan.
“Feel the Force Luke…” (Story/Graphics/Sound)
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t start where you would expect it to, it starts 3o years prior to the events in the movie, on the forest Moon of Endor. That’s right, this game starts where the movie The Return of the Jedi ends. This is a great little addition as it allows anyone that hasn’t seen any of the Star Wars movies; or played any of the LEGO Star Wars games for that matter, a glimpse at the Worlds, Stories and Characters prior to the events in The Force Awakens.
One of the things that TT Fusion does so well in their LEGO Games is retell a story while adding any combination of the following: subtle nuances, Slap Stick Comedy, additional insight or perspective to a scene and charm. If the player is experiencing the story for the first time; meaning they didn’t see the movie, they are able to hopefully enjoy the more charming less thought inducing scene and fall in love or fall in like. While the experienced player might fall in love all over again with a classic scene presented in a way that adds depth, insight and charm that might have otherwise been missed while watching the movies. The latter tended to be my experience as I was brought to a place of childlike wonderment while witnessing a scene that I’ve seen several times already play out in a new welcoming yet compelling way. Here’s one of the aforementioned scenes:
It’s been some time since I’ve played a LEGO game but immediately I noticed a huge upgrade in the clarity of graphics, especially the background. In previous LEGO games the background would often be made of LEGO’s, while not necessarily bad this made the game feel as though we were playing a game. Yes, I know, I am playing a game but for me the LEGO backgrounds made the game feel less genuine. In The Force Awakens the backgrounds tend to be a textured 3D rendering of a natural setting giving me the feeling as though I was playing with LEGO’s in the real world and creating my own personal story all while playing a video game. When I asked my Padawan what he thought of the graphics and background he responded by saying, “It looks kind of old-ish but in a very good way.” I couldn’t agree more; The Force Awakens is enough nostalgia to satisfy our childlike needs and wants with something very good to make the game feel and look like something new.
Any Star Wars movie or game really isn’t complete without the John Williams soundtrack and the classic sound effects. Both are delivered here in every way one would expect them. They set the tone for the large-scale TIE-Fighter space fights or strike fear into your hearts with the crackling of the light saber. The game also features the voice talents of a majority of the actors from the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That’s right; Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels and Mark Hamill all reprise their roles only this time they’re in LEGO form.The game also features the voice talents of a majority of the actors from the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That’s right; Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels and Mark Hamill all reprise their roles only this time they’re in LEGO form.
“Grab your Jedi Weapon…” (Gameplay)
If you’ve ever played a LEGO game you should already have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. Like most LEGO games LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers up a plethora of gaming options; platforming, puzzle solving, action, adventure and exploration.
As soon as you set down on the Forest Moon of Endor the action hits you in your face. I don’t remember LEGO games being this action packed. This is a nice addition/improvement from previous games. My Padawan said, “The gun fights aren’t easy because there’s a lot going on.” And later added, “There’s lots of action and it’s good.” The blaster fights may be intense and riddled with an over abundance of Storm Troopers but TT Fusion added a new cover type feature that allows your LEGO Character to take cover. When you’re ready to attack you pop up from your cover and unleash your blaster. In the video below you’ll see my Padawan engage in a shoot out with the Storm Troopers. “Han Solo is my favorite character. He’s the best.” said the young Padawan.
Another new feature is the addition of special abilities. I spoke with a close friend of mine and both of us can’t recall a LEGO game where this was included. We could be wrong. This adds another level of gameplay as each character now has a specific special ability; Rey has a ground pound that effects a small radius around her and destroys any enemies or structures in the radius and Fin has a Blaster Barrage type ability that unleashes a blitzkrieg of bolts on any enemy within close proximity.
Puzzle solving has always been a mainstay in the LEGO games universe and The Force Awakens doesn’t disappoint. My Padawan said, “I like the puzzles. They’re very cool and creative.” And like all puzzles in LEGO’s games the Story Levels require several play throughs as some puzzles can only be solved using certain characters and those characters abilities.
“May the Force be with you.” (Replayability)
If you’re like me and a collector of all things LEGO games tend to be built for you. There are tons of collectables as well as over 200 characters to unlock. A small list of collectables are as follows: Gold Bricks, Red Bricks, Mini Kits, Characters and Vehicles. In the vein of Pokemon you’ve “Gotta catch’em all!” I asked my Padawan what he thought and he said, “There are lots of choices and they’re all good.” Sure you might have to play a story level a few times to collect everything it has to offer but it’s worth it. You get to destroy and build in new fun ways with each play through.
“…Like my Father before me.” (Closing Thoughts)
TT Fusion did an amazing job with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They added a few new play styles while improving slightly on their tried and true formula. TT Fusion’s LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought me into the world created while also bringing forth childhood memories of the movies. I wanted to continue playing but also wanted to revisit the movies again for the thousandth time. You know a developer has done something right when they make you feel so many positive emotions at once. The level designs are fun and beautiful and promote exploration; while limited, forcing you to think outside of your normal mindset. As my Padawan said the puzzles are “very cool and creative.” The replay value for The Force Awakens is huge but doesn’t feel overwhelming as LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. On a traditional gaming review score I would give The Force Awakens a 8.5 out of 10. I asked my Padawan if he would play this game again and he said, “I think I will. I want to be as good or gooder than you one day.” It looks like my Padawan might become a Jedi sooner than I hoped.