Review: Lego Star Wars (PS2, XB)

Genre: Action Platform
Platform: Sony Playstation 2 (Also On: XB)
Rating: E (Everyone)
Publisher: Eidos
Release Date: 04/04/2005

At first glance, it seems like Lego Star Wars is one of the most sickeningly transparent attempt at product placement in recent video game memory. However, once the game starts up and the graphics and music begin, the skepticism dissipates and what’s left is an engrossing, endearing game.

In a surprisingly fun and deep adventure, Eidos takes the Star Wars universe, mixes it with Legos and simple controls, and comes out with a winner.


STORY

Lego Star Wars replays the entire storyline of the more recent trilogy, from Episode 1 to 3. This is particularly notable because it is the first game to feature the storylines from Episode 3, and contains some spoilers for that movie.

The story progresses in each Episode via lengthy (and largely UNSKIPPABLE) cinema scenes. Rather than showing the movie in all its dramatic glory, this Lego version of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is more comedic, with slapstick humor mixed in throughout. It’s fitting of the Lego Star Wars universe to add some levity to mix, and the animation in the cut scenes almost make it forgiveable that impatient players cant skip through them.

There are something like 100 playable characters in the game, and each plays differently. Jedis have lightsabers, droids have the ability to unlock doors, wookies have wookie combat. It’s amazing how many different animations and gameplay twists the developers were able to use to actually recreate the Star Wars universe in Lego format.

Story Rating: 9/10


GRAPHICS

If you could picture a video game based on the world of Lego Star Wars, you’d probably be imagining something very similar to the game. The characters and environments are made up of 3D Lego models, and the blocky nature of the products themselves makes recreating them on a console simple but effective. The solid colors of the lego shapes make the game colorful and childlike, but the glowing lightsabres and large explosions provide a nice contrast.


Some of the best graphics in Lego Star Wars are seen during the non-traditional levels, such as the Pod Racer or the outer space assault on Coruscant in Episode 3. The outer space level in particular features gigantic battleships and tons of moving ships on screen and once, and the framerate doesn’t loose much of a step. The explosions are impressive and multi-faceted, with fireworks-style blasts and fiery debris flying in all directions.

Graphics Rating: 7/10


SOUND

It’s difficult to screw up the music and effects in a Star Wars game, and Lego Star Wars lives up to the billing. There is the full range of Star Wars effects from light sabers to blasters. The droids make their respective beeps and boops, and from top to bottom, Lego Star Wars sounds like the Star Wars universe.

Of note is that the game’s music is the classic Star Wars music you’ve come to know and love, from the orchestral theme during the Darth Maul battle to the triumphant music at the end of Episode 1 where the Gungans and Jar Jar celebrate with Natalie and the Jedis.

Sound Rating: 9/10


CONTROL

Perhaps the most engaging part of Lego Star Wars is how pleasurable it is to control and maneuver the characters in the game. The use of Jedi Powers seems simpler and more authentic in this game than in many Star Wars games. The developers, targeting younger gamers, kept the controls very simple, and as such it’s easy to look and feel like a Jedi with only a little practice. The lightsabre just blocks most of the shots – you don’t have to aim. The characters with blasters have impeccable aim. Even in the face of dozens of droids, the player can slice and dice through the crowd with a Jedi with ease, simultameously chopping up enemy droids and deflecting blasts.

A unique part of the action levels is that the player is actually controlling a team of Star Wars characters, that can be tagged in and out. Sometimes the party grows to as many as 6 or more, complete with Jedis, wookies, droids, blaster characters or even kids like Anakin. Each has a different special ability, so much of the challenge (as much as it is) revolves around which character to use to solve each puzzle. Child Anakin can crawl in tight spaces. Yoda can hop around and kick major Jedi ass. Blaster characters like Padme can also use their blaster to latch onto high ledges and pull themselves up. As the game progresses, some of the puzzles require 2-3 or more characters used in tandem to pass some levels.


In addition to the normal action view, Lego Star Wars has a number of other gameplay style levels. During Episode 1, there is a lengthy Pod Race segment that mimics the race in the movie quite well. During Episode 2, there is a Viewpoint-style isometric shooting level. And during Episode 3, there is an outer space shooting level on rails, similar to Panzer Dragoon. These levels mixed up the game nicely after long lightsabre levels, and all are well executed and fun to play.

Control Rating: 7.5/10


REPLAYABILITY

There are 5-6 levels per Episode, and each are pretty lengthy with quite a few subrooms or sections. The main action adventure levels progress through a movie scene with a surprisingly onslaught of enemy soldiers, something that is sometimes missing in modern 3D games that skimp on baddies. In some levels, such as the Jedi Arena fight, the enemies seem never-ending and

The replayability comes with the two main types of collectibles in Lego Star Wars, the Studs and the Canisters. Both are items from the Lego universe that have no meaning to the Star Wars Universe. Studs are the equivalent of coins or money, and are collected throughout the levels. Earning a certain amount of them in each level achieves Jedi Master level, and achieving that on all levels unlocks the game’s master secret. In addition, the studs can be redeemed in the Diner for unlockables, such as secret characters and more.

The Canisters are hidden throughout each level, ranging from easy to find to totally hidden. Some of them can only be accessed by characters unlocked elsewhere in the game, but by and large they are not super hard to find. Getting them all creates a special vehicle, which is then displayed in the parking lot of the diner.

Replay Rating: 8/10


BALANCE

The one major drawback of Lego Star Wars is the difficulty. It’s a nice change to have so many powerful moves so easy to execute, as well as nearly unlimited heart refills during combat to the point where dying is not only avoidable, but pointless. The only penalty for dying in the game is losing 1000 chips, and when the total goes down to 0, dying is basically unlimited without penalty.


The opposite side is that because the game is based on a toy for children, the difficulty level is expected to be on the easy side. The game does have some creative boss battles, including a multi-facted Darth Maul battle that does a nice job of recreating the intensity and action of the movie version, even if some of the best parts were acted out in cinemas.

Balance Rating: 4/10


ORIGINALITY

There have been a number of Lego video games in recent years, mostly focused on racing and targeted for much younger kids. The idea to use Legos in a video game works very well with currently console technology, because polygons naturally can be made to look like Legos without tons of advanced texture mapping.


In addition, the way Lego Star Wars controls is a fresh new way to interpret the Star Wars powers, and things like Jedi Push and Blaster firing never seemed more fun and effective. Of course the drawback is that the challenge is limited because the powerful abilities are so easy to dispense.

The game mixes in some alternate styles of gameplay as well, and although none of them in particular are anything new or innovative, together as a package they are a well rounded Star Wars experience.

Originality Rating: 7/10


ADDICTIVENESS

Just seeing the incredible number of playable characters that are unavailable during the Story quest is enough to keep coming back for more, but that’s not even the only reason. The entire game is easy to learn and play and the graphics and animations are entertaining throughout.

Addictiveness Rating: 7/10


APPEAL

Star Wars Fever happens every few years when a new Star Wars movie hits theatres, and this year seems no different. There are poised to be tons of Star Wars games across all consoles and portables and anywhere else. Amazingly Lego Star Wars brings something totally fresh and new to the table as far as Star Wars games go, which is amazing considering how many there have been over the years. That being said, with the upcoming glut of Star Wars games, the appeal of a Lego version of Star Wars will be somewhat limited to younger kids and older fans of the toys, as well as Star Wars completists.

Appeal Rating: 5/10


MISCELLANEOUS

Star Wars games have been a mixed bag throughout the history of video games. Most of the Star Wars games released these days are shooters, either First Person Shooters or vehicle based shooters. The attempts at action and adventure have been mediocre at best, so just the fact that Lego Star Wars succeeds as a Star Wars action title makes it extra appealing.

Misc Rating: 6/10


Final Scores:

Story: 9/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 9/10
Control: 7.5/10
Replayability: 8/10
Balance: 4/10
Originality: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Appeal: 5/10
Miscellaneous: 6/10

Overall Score 69.5/100
FINAL SCORE: 7.0 (GOOD!)