Original Star Wars + Lego = Awesome
Lego STAR WARS II
1. STORY / GAME MODES
Lego Star Wars takes place during Episodes IV-VI of the films, more or less chronologically if you chose to do so. Every important aspect of the trilogy’s story is stuffed in here, with lots of added humour and slight alterations in order to shorten it all down into one game. If you have played the first game in the series already you probably have a good idea what this one is going to be like already but if not then just think of the films, shortened down to around 20 minutes of footage altogether and everything replaced by Lego. Now as a concept, you’d think this would be disastrous but there’s a reason that the first game was so popular and that was that it lightened up the pretty dull and serious second trilogy. Now we all know the original trilogy was pretty light in itself so with the added twist that LSW brings, things get even funnier and lightweight, bringing an overly enjoyable experience to anyone who plays the game for the game’s interpretations of the already classic tale. The only downside to the whole thing is the lack of voice-overs, I don’t quite know the reason behind it, I guess it would sound pretty dumb because of the speed the game goes through the story but just a little would have been nice.
The game’s modes mainly revolve around the story itself, putting the player through all 3 episodes, each consisting of 6 levels. However, there are some added modes which add a good deal of lifeline to the game and offer a break from the sometimes tedious chronological level completing. Among these modes are the free play mode in which you can go through any level that you have already completed in story mode, with any character that you have unlocked, without the hindrance of any story or being limited to certain characters. In addition to this there is the 10 Bounty Hunter missions where you play Bobba Fett as he hunts down 10 different characters from the trilogy: A nice concept that is rather short-lived. That’s not all there is, but the rest of just a mish-mash of what’s already been mentioned, but on the whole, there is a good amount of things to do in LSWII.
Story (4) & Game Modes (4) Rating: 8/10
2. GAMEPLAY & CONTROL
As with the first game, the controls are very simple and very fun to go through the game with. This is more or less down to the fact that the series is released on every game format popular today and so the controls have been generalised so that additional control programming isn’t as straining as with other complex titles. You’ll essentially be working with the thumb sticks and face buttons for the majority of the game, which of course is great because there isn’t much else for the other buttons to be used for.
In addition and as a reflection the simple controls, core gameplay is also more or less simple. You either be wielding a lightsaber or blasting a blaster (laser gun) at your foes of which are more less going to frequently be storm troopers. Both of which, work brilliantly when walking around in a world of Lego because even if you miss, you more than often going to destroy something in the environment causing an explosion of Lego studs, which have an aesthetic appeal as well as being visually exciting. However, in addition to the straight forward killing enemies and smashing up stuff to collect pickups seen in the first game, there are also a few nice additions to the sequel. First of all there’s a much wider selection of vehicle missions to go through all which are a whole lot more fun to play than those of the original. You’ll also be able to build things out of lego rubble, use landspeeders and AT-STs (those giant machines from Episode VI) to employ the force into practitioners of the dark side. You’ll also be able to use force powers on objects and enemies depending on the situation you find yourself in, both of which are incredibly fun to lay around with. Throughout the game you will collect Lego studs which are essentially Lego currency that you use to buy cheats, characters and blocks of Lego which even further unlock extra levels and game modes explained above. Now all of this might sound a little devoid of much volume but you really have to play the game to see how effectively the gameplay works and how much fun and enjoyment can be had from it.
Gameplay & Control Rating: 8/10
3. GRAPHICS AND DESIGN
For a game based around LEGO, LSWII looks fantastic and will have you believing for each second you’re in this world that you are surrounded by a fantastic landscape of Lego. Everything is inevitably blocky but not in a bad way that resembles something Tekken for the Playstation. You can tell that everything here is polished and designed to be great to look at, because it is. Characters at times, look a bit odd in the face but really it’s just because they’re little Lego guys trying to look like emperor Palpatine or Yoda. Environments themselves as I have mentioned briefly look fantastic. Even though it is all built from Lego pieces, the sets which the game uses look as identical as you can get to the film equivalent and really capture the atmosphere of the trilogy perfectly. Other little effects such as force powers, building things, lightsaber swishes and blaster fire add an extra dimension of gloss to already great looking game.
Graphics & Design Rating: 9/10
Lego Star Wars II has all the expected Star Wars music and sound effects in their full glory and it all sounds exceptional, even if you are hearing them for the twenty millionth time. You see even though the game sounds exactly like the films, it’s exactly this which in turn slightly hinders the game because we’ve all heard it before and nothing original is presented to the player to enjoy. This is also the reason why I thought some comical voice-overs could have slightly increased the feeling of the game, but nonetheless credit has to be given for reproducing such a classic soundtrack and effects library into the game, of course making it feel more like Star Wars but the downside is, it feels a little less like Lego Star Wars.
Sound Rating: 8/10
Now here’s the downfall of the classic simple game. Truth be told, Lego Star Wars II like its parent doesn’t really last that long first time through. You can probably expect around 12 hours of gameplay going through the 3 episodes if you are also trying quite readily to collect studs, power bricks and such but if you’re simply rushing through the story with little regard to such gameplay, you’ll probably have it done in around 6-7 hours. As I always state however, my job is to review how many hours are realistically there in the game. Just as a book could take 5 hours for someone skimming it lightly, the same book could take 40 hours to read by someone who takes in every word with meaning. So taking into account the free play modes, the xbox 360 achievements included with this version, the bonus levels and missions, all in all there is probably a maximum of around 40 hours to have fun with LSWII. Not bad, but probably not worth the money it’s going for.
Lifeline Rating: 4/10
6. DIFFICULTY BALANCE
Lego Star Wars II has two difficulty settings (one more than its predecessor): Adaptive and Non-Adaptive. For the sake of this particular category I’m going to flesh out both settings because it’s relatively simple and you can already guess what they entail already. Adaptive difficulty works like this: You play a level and based upon how well you performed during that said level, the difficulty will either increase or decrease accordingly. This is a great addition to any game as it makes balance issues more or less a thing of the past if done correctly. The problem with LSWII however is that it doesn’t do it consistently well: Some levels from the ground up are just too easy, and as a result level progression is inevitably unbalanced and you can simply tell which levels are harder than others by turning off the adaptive difficulty. This of course brings me on to the Static difficulty setting, which is more or less too easy. Adding this to the fact that levels are sometimes a little unbalanced in terms of scaffolding based level progression and that you can never really die and you have a pretty unbalanced game. However, turn on Adaptive mode and you’ll have a decent time as it works well for most of the time, and that’s what I’m basing this score on.
Difficulty Balance Score: 7/10
Lego Star Wars II is in dangerous originality territory to begin with. It’s a sequel and part of an already robust franchise. However, most of this game is made of Lego and well that in itself is pretty original. Also to its benefit are the new game modes and gameplay features as well as a whole new and much more engaging story. So all in all, it’s not all bad and Lego Star Wars II proves that the Star Wars franchise certainly isn’t going to die soon, even if it is overdone in the gaming industry.
Originality Score: 8/10
When it comes down to it, this is where Lego Star Wars II and its elder really shine. With such simple control and gameplay, fun and humorous storyline and animation, along with a brilliant rendition of the already hugely popular and successful original trilogy of Star Wars, LSWII is a fantastic game to just pick and play for a few hours and then put away again without thinking much of it. Enjoyment is an understatement
Enjoyment Score: 9/10
Story & Game Modes: 8
Gameplay & Control: 8
FINAL SCORE: 7.6/10
Lego Star Wars II isn’t game for in-depth thinking, problem solving and original stories and characters. Neither does it hold up competitive or challenging values. Lego Star Wars II is quite simply a game about fun, taking a fantastic set of films and giving them a whole new dimension inside the world of Lego. Highly recommended for fans of the original game and/or the original trilogy, but more or less recommended for any gamers out there who want to kick back and have fun for a while, which is what games usually succeed in doing when done right and Lego Star Wars does just that.
Written Entirely by Jamie Robert Ward for XGD.com