LEGO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS REVIEW

From:MARTY SLIVA 05/07/2016

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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the most gaming fun I’ve had with either series in years.


The Force Awakens must be magic. First it reinvigorated Star Wars after a string of duds, and now it’s given the slumping LEGO games the same shot in the arm. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the most creative, well-paced, and fun LEGO game in years. Developer Traveler's Tales always displays a keen love and affection for its source material, but with this take on the most recent Star Wars movie, it tells an entertaining story that pays wonderful tribute to Episode VII through a slew of smart puzzles and unique characters.


Unlike the disjointed storytelling in the disappointing LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, The Force Awakens uses dialogue from the film effectively. The story of Rey, Finn, and company follows the same path as the movie, while also throwing in a bunch of really clever gags and goofs.


Wandering through the ruins of Maz Kanada’s castle, overhearing some weird creatures talk about where they’re going to drink next, and having one of them suggest his old watering hole on Tatooine left a big dumb grin on my face. It even handles heavy events, like that Big Spoilery Thing? with a solid dose of humor and charm.  


Each level in the eight-hour campaign does a great job of spreading out puzzle solutions between multiple characters and their unique abilities. Unlike LEGO Avengers, where the second player oftentimes found themselves bored, here you’ll need each character’s inherent abilities to make it through a level. Plus, the abilities are generally fun to use -- Rey’s agility creates some great platforming segments, while BB-8’s ability to jack into any electrical outlet allows you to fiddle around and manipulate platforms and other objects in the world. Whether I was playing by myself or alongside a pal, I really enjoyed scouring each level for all of their secrets.


That said, certain puzzle mechanics are dull and used a bit too often. For example, playing as Finn and having to line up the head and torsos of a holographic Stormtrooper to enter a First Order door quickly transforms from a light challenge into a chore.


While the destroy, build, and collect mechanics are familiar to anyone who has played a LEGO game, The Force Awakens tosses in some new and unique scenarios that surprised me with how fun they were. Specifically, cover-based shootouts that feel like “My First Gears of War.” These sections were totally unexpected, but really helped deliver some diversity to the familiar gameplay loop. Add in the fact that each character has a special meter that allows you to destroy the battlefield with a cool-looking unique attack, and Force Awakens has the best-feeling action of any LEGO game yet.


Likewise, the flying sections -- both the on-rails and open-air dogfights -- are fun, frantic, and honestly more entertaining than this year’s Star Fox Zero. Whether I was jetting through an asteroid field, gunning down TIE Fighters on my way off of Jakku, or saving the Resistance as Poe on the shores of Takodana, I looked forward to every scene where I got to hop into the cockpit of a ship. I couldn’t help but imagine what Travelers Tales would do with a full-on Rogue Squadron game.


While I love the individual levels, I’m a bit disappointment by the hub worlds. Unlike the awesome, interconnected core of LEGO Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, this series of small hubs here are disjointed and require fairly lengthy load screens to pop between them. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it adds some frustration when you want to check out a bunch of different challenges and worlds.


LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is also filled with cute, smart nods that Star Wars nuts are going to love. Scouring the galaxy for slabs of carbonite that unlock characters from the original trilogy and the prequels is a blast. Likewise, there are rad secret missions that fill in the gaps of certain events left out of the film, with one of the more memorable ones featuring Poe on his rescue mission to snatch Admiral Ackbar. All of this constantly compelled to keep playing on my mission to 100% it.

The Verdict

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the most gaming fun I’ve had with either series in years. The story is great, the levels are dense with fun puzzles, and unlocking all of the secrets is a blast. Whether I was going through it solo or playing alongside a buddy, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens proved to be an adaption worthy of its incredible source material.