The one thing everyone knows about Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that it feels a little padded out. Even knowing that going in, I still rolled my eyes a bit when the first stage of The Force Awakens turned out to be actually the third act of The Return of the Jedi. However, when you start actually playing the level, you remember how cool that last portion of Jedi was. You learn the basic gameplay as you skip through the familiar scenes and the various characters – Han and Leia on Endor, Luke in the Death Star, and Lando outside the Death Star – and it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself. This may be one of the best training levels I’ve seen. That level is a great reflection of the risk Lego took on the title as a whole; Lego took a chance it expanding out a single movie into an entire game, and it actually really works well.
Basing an entire game on one movie used to make a lot of sense back in the days of early consoles, but the Lego games have traditionally straddled several movie titles and condensed each one down into six-or-so stages to playthrough. This made sense for the several movie series, particularly Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, that could be boiled down to six action-oriented scenes, didn’t have a lot of material outside of the movies to work with, and really didn’t have an interesting character beyond the protagonist. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is different. Each of the characters is interesting and there are several stories referenced in the movie but not seen in the movie. Giving us a chance to spend more time with the characters and see some of the referenced but unseen events is fun. Sure, there is a little padding here and there, but with characters (new and old) as beloved as these, it’s really hard to complain.
The big addition to the gameplay here are the cover-based shooting sequences. At various times in the level, characters will move to cover and the gameplay shifts into Gears of War/Time Crisis style shooting galleries. This sequences are a great break in the action and – for younger gamers – are an easy introduction to a pretty common gameplay mechanic. The other aspect of the game I loved was the original dialogue they recorded from each of the actors, even Harrison Ford. I haven’t enjoyed the presence of an actual movie star’s audio in a game this much since Ghostbusters came out a few years back. It’s funny, I think it’s ridiculous when games turn to established movie stars to create new characters in games, but when it comes to playing established characters, the original actors add a lot to the performance.
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is one of the better Lego games out there. There’s not much here that will surprise you and many of the complaints you’ve had (particularly bad camera angles) repeat here. We hit a couple of points where we weren’t sure what to do or where to go and spent some time struggling to get back on track. There are also a few stages that feel unnecessary but also some stages that bring in new adventures that are a lot of fun. It’s better than Lego: Jurassic Park but not nearly as fun as Lego: Dimensions. But if you love Star Wars generally or The Force Awakens specifically, you should check it out.
The levels are fun and the gameplay is a solid if a little familiar at this point. The involvement of the original actors adds a great deal. Hearing Harrison Ford talk about Wookie Cookies is a real high point.
Other than the cover-based shooting sequences, there’s not a lot of novel innovation here. Some levels feel like padding at various times.
OVERALL: GOOD BUT SKIPPABLE
This is pretty much our default rating for Lego games (though Dimensions is still a Must Play). Fans of Lego games or Star Wars will find a lot to like here. The rest of us may wait for Lego Dimensions 2.