With Star Wars hitting fever pitch on the big screen one last time, the usual array of tie-ins start coming out the woodwork, there’s Darth Tatter, a Darth Vader inspired Mr Potato head, or the life size replica lightsabers. But would you be expecting the Lego Star Wars Video Game? We certainly wouldn’t either, but by the end of our first evening of play we are certainly glad someone did.
The game follows the first three episodes of the films - Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and tying in nicely with the latest film, Revenge of the Sith.
The films are then broken down into six separate missions representing key points in the film, Attack of the Clones for example starts with the visit to Kamino which ends in you duelling with Boba Fett’s father, while scenes from Phantom Menace revolve around such elements as escape from Naboo and dealing with the trade federation.
Gameplay is based around individual characters and each character (there are 30 to collect including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Anakin Skywalker and R2-D2, Jango Fett, Darth Maul) has different strengths such as jumping, opening doors or using the force. Although playable as a one-player game, you still get two characters per level and this allows you to either swap between the characters when a certain task comes up or get a friend to jump in when they want. Playing two-player is significantly better and those who like that sort of thing you can turn on each other for the ultimate duel that never happened in the movie.
Aimed at kids, but most likely played by Star Wars fans of all ages, the gameplay’s rather easy. We say easy because it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you die you just keep coming back. While this might give you the feeling you are on top of the world and invincible, it does mean that you become a bit blasé about the whole thing, running in gung-ho rather than actually thinking about what you are doing. Then again this is sci-fi, not Hidden and Dangerous and like Painkiller, it’s sometimes nice to return to fast, tactics-free action.
There are “bonus” points and areas you can gain access to on your missions that unlock characters and earn you money to spend in the shop, but ignore these and you’ll be able to carve your way through the game in just a little over a long evening.
Once you’ve completed the level you can go back and opt to play it again, but this time with a character of your choice rather than ones pre-selected. Its an interesting choice that does add some length to the game, but you soon find the reason those original characters were needed first time around.
Between missions you get to go to the shop and buy tips, new characters, and extras such as silly blasters or moustaches for everyone. Characters that you’ve beaten can be bought so you can play levels with them and depending on their importance will vary the cost - a droid costs 200 credits whereas Count Dooku costs 45,000.
The best bit about the game is the graphics and the sound. Being a Lego game everything is made of Lego. Even the cutscenes between the missions have been remade and re shot using lego pieces - this time to a professional standard, for once taking their cue from the fan-made versions on the net (though they’ve moved on to parodies of GTA). In the game, everything from the spaceships, characters, blasters, scenery and even those three flowered plants you use to have outside the Lego police or fire stations are Lego.
But get past the blocky Lego elements and the graphics are still highly polished. Mirrored floors reflect, lakes shimmer and the desert levels look hot. Likewise the attention to sound - helped by the fact that it’s been provided by Lucas’ Skywalker Studio - mean that the blaster fire is the real McCoy.
If this was just another action adventure yarn we have to admit the score wouldn’t have been so high, but the combination of Lego and Star Wars is just a wonder to be seen. The graphics are fantastic, the attention to detail commendable (we especially like the fact that characters fall apart into individual Lego pieces when they die) and the sound providing an overall package. For some, the lack of difficulty will mean this game is completed fairly quickly, but for the younger Star Wars fan - at whom, like Episode 1 this game is aimed - the difficulty should be spot on. A graphical treat. Top marks.