21st game played so far
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Eidos Interactive/LucasArts
It’s the game that came as a result of the accumulated wishes of every lonely child the union between the genius Lego toys with the now legendary Star Wars (the original trilogy… since the prequel trilogy wasn’t exactly classic filmmaking). However, what the people at Traveller’s Tale were able to do was take a series of films people take very seriously (some would say too seriously but I could not possibly comment) and find a way to inject it with a fantastical sense of humour which would then become the trademark of a highly phraseworthy series of games (with Lego Batman being their magnum opus in my personal opinion).
The copy we own is actually the Complete Saga edition meaning that we will have played through sections of both the original Lego Star Wars as well as those of the prequel trilogy. We’ve more or less played through all the episodes so we should have a good grasp on both games… seeing how the 1001 list specifically mentions only one game we’ll be focusing on that in our write up.
I guess we’ll have to look at the Star Wars experience later, but I think it’s worth going over the general qualities of these games first – as said; all of the games in the series are brilliant. It’s just a pity that Lego Batman didn’t end up on this list somewhere, it’s awesome beyond measure… but we digress.
It really is a gaming combination that shouldn’t work, especially since the idea of a Lego computer game is a touch strange. They’ve managed to pull it off brilliantly. To be fair, the Lego parts of it aren’t what you’d think – there are no conventional building things and putting them together in any arbitrary manner (except for two characters you can design yourself in most of the games). However, almost everything is made of Lego, and building predefined objects with them, or using the Force to create them, or anything like that, is a large part of the gameplay and in fact, destroying all these Lego objects is part of the fun of the game.
Similar fun can be derived from having Chewbacca pulling the arms off of the adversaries with the apt comic side-effects of course. Yes, or your protocol droids (C3PO & co) losing their limbs one by one as they get shot or damaged. I still think the best noise is when you use Jedi powers to push R2-D2 off the edge of something (tee hee). For those of you who know Darths & Droids… it is very much deserved too.
One thing that is remarkable in this is how close they remain to the overall story of Star Wars. Granted bits have to be fleshed out to create adequately paced levels, but they don’t actually play with it as much as you would expect so in that way purists were not too annoyed. Yeah and the cutscenes aren’t serious and boring copies of scenes from the movie, but, through the humour in there, are lovely to watch as well. (And to come back to that, in Lego Batman this shows off even more, as it doesn’t follow an existing story. Instead there’s a simple original one, which allows for a lot more charm in the cutscenes. Robin is lovely in it and will steal your heart. Get a room you two.)
A really good feature is the gaming hub where unlocked characters run around and it’s fun to create a brawl (even better in The Complete Saga where you can repeatedly slice JarJar Binks in twain). Not just that, aside from allowing for repeated studs collection from features in there, it serves as a nice way of using a lot of mechanics and have some battles with each other as well.
The extras are a remarkable mix of incredibly useful to incredibly idiotic. All are great fun to try out but there is only a handful which you can make regular use of. Yeah, and some are easier to use than others – from just getting extra studs when you kill someone, to your blaster shots exploding when you hit someone – not something you want when you’re close to it. That was so annoying, especially since you need those exploding blasts to break through certain shiny obstacles. Not necessarily – you can get characters later that make things explode through bombs, those are easier to handle and less necessary in fights. Ah yes, sorry about that… so, we’ve covered how faithful the game is to the movie series, their great sense of humour and collectables. Onto gameplay which is not perfect.
The camera can get particularly annoying when playing with a friend as it will go to any lengths to keep you both in shot, even if it means forcibly dragging your co-player into a ravine. Of course they then re-spawn falling into the ravine and you’re screwed in terms of stud collecting. Not just that, sometimes when you want to get a good view, to fight enemies or do tricky jumps, it zooms in to an awkward angle where it’s hard to see where you’re going… or the camera moves just as you need it stable to judge where you’re going. This isn’t a regular problem, to be fair, but when it does happen it is extremely annoying, like the driving levels they insist on including.
These are worse here than they are in other instalments like Lego Batman (so this is worth remembering). The controls don’t work well, the camera problems are made worse and it’s hard to see how what you’re doing has any effect. They realised there was something good, but they just needed to tighten the camera and controls for later games. I guess it’s near perfect by the time they started developing Lego Harry Potter where I assume its broomstick levels rather than driving (minus the obligatory double-decker bus in the third film). Something I am more and more looking to finding out, although I’m tempted to wait for its inevitable Complete Saga version, when all the levels are in there.
I really hope that they choose to do an Alice in Wonderland one or one involving plenty of fairy tales. That would be hilarious. There’s plenty of options still available, both movie franchises and otherwise (and I’ve mentioned Star Trek as an option I’d personally love). In any case, even if Star Wars isn’t your option, it’ll be worth trying out one of these games. I don’t even like Star Wars that much and I thought it was brilliant.
So yeah, this serie of LEGO games are a lot of fun. Lego Star Wars is great – although it’s probably worth going for the Complete Saga by now – but Lego Batman works just as well, and while we haven’t had a chance to play them yet, the Indiana Jones and Harry Potter games are said to be as good. Try which you like best – we think they’re different and innovative enough to fit in on this list.
Last, while it’s far from the same, there’s a Lego Star Wars 2.5 – the Quest for R2-D2 – available for free online. It might be worth a try to see whether you like it. It’ll be good fun anyway.