A long time ago, in suburbs far, far away, children didn't have videogames. Instead, they had toys they actually had to physically play with, and king of the hill was Lego. Not as clumsy or as violent as Grand Theft Auto, Lego was an elegant toy for a more civilised age.
But now it seems at last that the circle is complete. Lego has once again been transformed into videogame form, this time utilising a power more potent than the Force itself -- the Star Wars franchise.
As its name suggests, Lego Star Wars recreates key scenes from the Star Wars movies entirely using Lego. Every ship and piece of the environments is made up of Lego blocks, while all of the characters have the distinctive Lego people look, right down to the curved hands and painted-on expressions. But don't think you'll be helping Luke bullseye womp rats in his T-16 back on Tatooine -- Lego Star Wars uses the prequel trilogy as its source, although characters from the original trilogy do make some guest appearances.
If Lego Star Wars sounds surreal, it is. Taking on a Lego Darth Maul from Episode I, seeing ships explode into their individual Lego blocks, using a flipping Lego Yoda to take on Lego clone troopers -- Star Wars fans are sure to have a hoot.
Lego Star Wars is primarily an action platformer with plenty of puzzle solving thrown in for good measure. You start off on Episode I with the ability to control two different characters -- Qui-Gon Jinn and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi -- but by the end of the game you'll have literally dozens of different characters to choose from. Each has different abilities and attacks -- Jedi characters, for example, use Force powers to move objects and can wield lightsabers. Blaster characters like Padme Amidala can fire weapons and use grappling hooks, while droids have little offensive powers but can unlock certain doors. Each level sees you accompanied by at least one other computer controlled character (sometimes as many as five more) that you can choose to control at any time simply by going up to the character and pressing the triangle button. A second human player can join in at any time by taking control of any unused characters.
As Lego Star Wars is primarily aimed at younger gamers, control is kept simple -- Square for attack, X for jump and Circle for special powers. There's no complicated combos to learn -- tapping on Square is more than adequate to get through the game. The game's puzzles are also considerably non-taxing, with the most complex requiring the use of different characters in combination.
The action platform sections are broken up by the occasional driving/space flight mini game -- one of which can be found in each Episode. Players can recreate Anakin's pod race in Episode I, pilot a Republic ship in Episode II, and fly through the opening space battle in Episode III. This last flying section is one of the most visually impressive in the game, and is sure to get any Star Wars geeks' hearts aflutter.
Lego Star Wars certainly isn't going to push any experienced gamer, and will probably only take a few hours to finish. As befitting a kids title, players have unlimited lives, meaning persistence will eventually see you through if skill doesn't. Lego Star Wars, however, does have plenty of replay value, as each level is littered with areas that cannot be accessed by the characters initially available to you. You'll need to replay each level using different characters to find all of its secrets, which are usually in the form of hidden Lego blocks that can be put together into larger ships that you can collect.
Control is generally tight and responsive with all characters, even with the crazy flipping Yoda who moves across the screen in a series of acrobatic moves when his lightsaber is lit. Surprisingly, characters have the tendency to become stuck on stairs, forcing you to jump over them instead of walking. Graphics are a standout -- colours are vivid, and while its certainly not as system-pushing as other titles, all of the environments and characters are rendered impressively.
Lego Star Wars is a cute title that young children will find easy to get into. But if you're a serious gamer, there won't be any challenge for you here. Of course, if you're a serious gamer AND a Star Wars fan, then Lego Star Wars has enough geek goodness -- such as the massive character roster available and the sheer mind trip of seeing Star Wars entirely recreated in Lego -- to make it worth your while.
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