LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes on the brand new film in the beloved saga with unique recreations and all new content that adds to the story. While it adds in some great new mechanics, it feels like The Force Awakens just doesn’t have enough story to make the full game feel strong. Come inside to check out my full review!
LEGO video games have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. While the LEGO games are designed with younger kids in mind and aren’t particularly difficult, they’re a lot of fun and abound with so many secrets and bonuses to find. It’s easy to sink hours into without much thought as there are always more secrets waiting to be discovered.
Combine it with Star Wars and I’m totally hooked. While LEGO has made plenty of video games based on the toys in the past, the first LEGO Star Wars game is what propelled the franchise into the spotlight. Since a LEGO game for The Force Awakens had been announced, I already knew I wanted to get my hands on it. On top of bringing new parts of the story to life, we’d get extras and that fun LEGO humor. The final result is fairly pleasing, but feels a bit stretched thin. Let’s dive into it!
At this point, I don’t expect I have to talk much about the game’s story. It sticks with the plot of The Force Awakens film, only expanding on certain areas in order to add more gameplay. For instance, one of the first missions has you playing as Poe Dameron when the First Order attacks the desert village looking for Lor San Tekka and the map to Luke.
The story information conveyed in the mission is the exact same and the results are no different: Poe is captured while BB-8 runs away with the map. The game throws in some extras, however, in puzzles you have to solve in order to get the villagers their weapons so they can fight back. You’re also tasked with putting out fires throughout the village so you can continue moving through it (either to rescue or escape), and gunning down swarms of Stormtroopers along the way. Each mission flows like this, where extra puzzles and circuitous routes are added in for longer play time, but the story itself is the same. So if you’ve seen the film, you have the basics of the story down.
That’s the MAIN game, but of course, one of the big selling points for LEGO The Force Awakens has been the bonus missions added in, which offer up entirely new (and canonical) adventures to expand on characters and events in the film. These neat extras add in some cool information, but don’t expect any huge revelations for the future of the franchise. Instead, these stories endear you to the characters and give you a better look at them beyond what we see in the film.
You have to work for them, though, as they’re locked behind a specific number of Gold Bricks (they vary) that you have to play the main game in order to get. This is fine, and fits in with the game’s primary idea of playing through multiple times and uncovering secrets. The bonus missions feel like rewards for progress, though a couple (Lor San Tekka’s and C-3PO’s) feel a little more boring than the others.
Adding to the story isn’t the only new stuff LEGO The Force Awakens is bringing to the table, as the game also brings about some new ideas to the franchise for gamers to play around with. Overall, the gameplay doesn’t veer far from the established LEGO formula. You jump around, battle other mini-figures, solve puzzles, and piece things together.
Other more recent additions to the gameplay, introduced in previous titles, like using beasts to break specific objects have been incorporated as well. LEGO The Force Awakens, however, adds in some new things as well, most notably the inclusion of “multi-build” brick piles. Normally the LEGO games have you solve some puzzles with the help of constructions the characters have to put together. Sometimes you have to break objects around the map in order to unearth the pieces you need to craft something, but they’re signified by the way they tumble about on the ground.
While that’s still present, The Force Awakens adds the ability to CHOOSE what you’re going to build. These glow differently and as you approach, give a preview outline of the various things you can create and you point the stick in the direction of the thing you want to build. Even then, you can knock it down and create the other option later on!
This adds some neat dimension to the puzzles and levels overall. Some of the options opened up secret paths to snag bonuses, while others would lead you down the rest of the level. A few of the puzzles need you to build a multitude of things in the right order so you could reach a certain area or move forward. It made for a nice way to add a little extra depth to the simplistic puzzles.
Blaster Battles are the other new addition, providing a new way to battle enemies. It’s a fun system that has you taking cover, as you poke your head out to target enemies and fire. While it’s still simplistic, it adds to the combat in the game and makes for a fun diversion in certain levels. It’s a mechanic that brings the game series more in line with other traditional third-person action games.
It’s not a perfect system though, as you’re not able to go into at will. Even if you see cover around, you can’t choose to go into that mode. It’s based entirely off where you are in the level itself, and IF that level features a blaster battle. The aiming isn’t all the great either and if you’re used to shooting mechanics from any other game, something about it feels backward.
The last new gameplay addition to LEGO Star Wars also happens to be my favorite one: new flying battles. Some of my favorites games of all time are space combat games (Star Fox, Rogue Squadron, etc.) and it’s something that’s been sadly missing my my gaming life. Typically in the LEGO Star Wars games, the vehicular action was limited to an on-rails experience, but this time around, they’re giving you more freedom.
A few of the levels feature full maps in which you can swoop around and fight against the enemies of the Republic. The controls are a little simplified for my tastes, but still provided a fun flying/fighting experience. They made for some of my favorite moments in the game, and are ones I find myself coming back to often within free play mode.
Overall, my experience with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a positive one. The missions within the campaign feel lengthy despite the amount of story being told. While that’s good from a gameplay standpoint, it made the game drag in some areas. The reality is, there’s just not enough story within in the ONE movie to make up for the entire game.
Think about it, the first two LEGO Star Wars games incorporated the Prequel and Original trilogy films into one game (respectively). They had three movies in which to spread out over a number of missions, which meant the pace of the game was constantly moving forward with very little down time. This time around, they’re working with only one film and some ancillary details they can’t go into too much because of the needs of the Story Group right now.
That’s not a lot to base an entire game off of, and while they do a good job of expanding scenes into bigger play areas, some of the early missions really drag on. Heck, the first level is the finale for Return of the Jedi, a mission you’ve already played through in previous games. It was an odd choice that took way too long to get through so I could play what I wanted: The Force Awakens parts.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the new gameplay mechanics, and exploring the new Star Wars content (especially the bonus missions), I can’t help but feel we need another movie or more story material out there before diving into this one. That said, it’s still fun, with plenty of extras to track down, but with so little story to go on, I’ve been having a harder time than usual making myself go back for the secrets.
Pulling from just one movie made the story drag, especially in the early missions, but overall presents neat take on the new film. The new gameplay elements make it more engaging for older players, while still accessible for younger audiences. It’s really a game the whole family can enjoy.