Review: Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Wii U)

Is this the droid you’re looking for?

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 08/09/2016 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Fantastic voice-acting; blaster combat and vehicle segments add strong variety; bonus missions are a fun diversion from the main storyline
Poison Mushroom for...
Levels are too long and lack save points; multi-builds system doesn't offer enough; singular focus on one movie

The most frequent complaint about Traveler’s Tales’ Lego games is that they aren’t dissimilar enough from one another. The gameplay changes a bit between franchise representations, but the changes tend to be fairly minor. Fortunately, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the biggest deviation from the standard in quite some time. It still maintains the heart and core gameplay of the Lego franchise, but there are enough new additions that make it stand out from other recent titles.

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens follows the events of the most recent film in the series, with some additional sequences made specifically for the game. Surprisingly enough, the Wii U version actually starts off with the end of Return of the Jedi. It’s an interesting start, but a welcome one, as the game uses it in place of a tutorial. In addition to showcasing the game’s mechanics, the opening level also shows off the title’s new gameplay additions, which include new blaster combat sequences and the multi-builds system.

Those new additions help give The Force Awakens some much-needed variety. The addition of new blaster combat segments and the game’s handful of flight levels really help to break up the pace of the traditional format of Lego games. Blaster combat segments take a page from more action-oriented games, with player characters using cover, and getting their shots in when the opportunity presents itself. The flight levels are a real highlight. They don’t quite offer the same depth as Star Wars: Rogue Leader, but they still play impressively enough that a Lego Star Wars game primarily focused on flight levels would be more than welcome.

Unfortunately, the new multi-builds system is an idea that works well, but screams for stronger implementation. The new addition makes puzzles a bit more complex, but it seems like an idea that needed to cook more. For the most part, multi-builds options end up as steps in a larger puzzle. The majority of the multi-builds options revolve around building one option to accomplish a part of the puzzle, then smashing the creation to rebuild it as something else to finish the puzzle. It’s a logical extension of the brand, but it felt like TT Games played the option far too safely. It would have been nice to see crazier multi-builds options that diverged from one another, offering truly unique experiences that make the player want to revisit the levels multiple times. It’s an encouraging addition, provided future Lego titles properly expand on it.

While the new gameplay additions are quite welcome, the biggest improvement to the title is the voice acting. Both Lego Jurassic World and Lego Marvel’s Avengers predominantly featured voice samples from the original films, with a handful of actors supplying new lines. Unfortunately, that often resulted in abrupt cutoffs to the dialogue and some awkward alterations. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens breaks from this trend, featuring brand-new dialogue supplied by the principle cast of the film. It’s unbelievable that WB Games was able to lock in actors like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to supply so much new dialogue, but it’s there, and it’s wonderful. As a result, the game sounds better than any previous Lego title.

In addition to the main storyline of The Force Awakens, Traveler’s Tales has done an excellent job putting in additional content outside the film. For the most part, the levels that take place outside the main feature tend to be on the stronger side, and they help to offer a nice diversion from the main plot. Some fill in gaps behind-the-scenes, like Han and Chewie’s Rathtar hunt, while others are just silly fun that help balance some of the film’s darker moments. An Admiral Ackbar rescue mission (“it’s always a trap!”) is easily one of the game’s biggest highlights.

Unfortunately, there still aren’t enough extras to rationalize the game’s narrowed focus on one film. Some of the movie-based levels feel like filler added to pad the game’s run-time, and they drag on for far too long. That problem is made all the more egregious given the lack of mid-level save points, which were once a regular feature in Lego games. Additionally, the game boasts a massive list of characters for players to unlock, but it’s unlikely even the most devout Star Wars fans will care to play as the majority of them. Had the publisher held off on a new Lego Star Wars game until this winter’s release of Rogue One, it seems unlikely some of the game’s duller material would have made the final cut.

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens feels designed to quell even the loudest detractors of the Lego games. With increased level variety, new gameplay additions and excellent, original dialogue, the title gives Star Wars fans plenty of reasons to revisit the franchise. The game could have benefited from a delay until after the release of Rogue One, but it’s hard to gripe about a title that offers players such a strong amount of content. Star Wars fans will find the game has quite a bit to offer.

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