Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Game Review: Lego Star Wars

I said I'd dig this up and repost it, so here it is. I have just a couple things to add. First, I reviewed the X-box version of the game, and unfortunately, it has not been added to the list of games compatible with the 360. I hope maybe that will change by the time the second game is released. Second, you should be able to find this game for less than the full retail prices I give in the review. I've seen it for around $20 some places. Now for my original review:

Lego Star Wars is an adventure game for one or two players set in the prequel trilogy of Star Wars, but using Legos. It's available for PC, PS2, and Xbox. I played the version for Xbox. The PC version can be found for around $30 while the console versions go for around $40.

I had a blast playing this game. Legos and Star Wars were two of the biggest things in my childhood, so I was biased to like this from the start. Even so, playing the demo didn't really impress me. It was only after reading some other positive reviews that I decided to go ahead and get the game. I'm not disappointed that I did.

The game is a simple adventure game that follows the events of Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III. You take on the roles of legoized versions of Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Anakin and others as you progress through the scenes. As an adventure game, you spend at least as much time collecting things and solving jumping puzzles as you do fighting combats and progressing the story line, but most everything is handled in an enjoyable way.

You can play the game in two ways. Either in Story Mode or in Free Play. You have to first play through a mission in Story Mode, which means that you are limited to the two characters that the story is designed around, such as Qui-Gon and Obi-Won in the opening mission aboard the Trade Federation starship. When playing in Free Play you can select your character from any of those that you have unlocked. The computer then selects a number of other characters for you from those you have unlocked. You can rotate between those characters while playing the mission. Different characters have different special abilities. Many areas of the game are only reachable by characters with a certain special ability, making them impossible to reach in Story Mode.

If nothing else, the game has one huge advantage over the movies: the dialogue. The only fully pronounced words in the entire game are "roger-roger" from the battle droids, and you only hear that once or twice. It tends to make Anakin and Padme far more bearable.

I did have a couple issues with the design of the game. First is that the camera is not controllable, and sometimes makes things more difficult than they should be, but after playing for a while I got used to not being able to control the camera. Second is that the game is short. I completed the storyline for all three movies in a day, and came very near to unlocking all the extras in a second day (although with a bit of help from for the latter). Unlocking extras does provide some replay value, but once that is finished there probably won't be much reason to take this game back off the shelf.

A third issue I had was with the performance of the game. I had it lock up on me on three different occasions. I only mention this because I can't recall the last time my Xbox locked up on a game, so I have to assume that it was the game and not my console.

One issue from a postGeek perspective is that while you can pause at any time, you can only save the game between missions. The missions are relatively short so it's not a complete disaster if you should have to play one over. Most of the puzzles are easy to do once you figure them out, so there isn't as much frustration as might be involved with other games. I had the game lock up on me once at the very end of a mission. In most games that would have driven me insane, but it was only a minor annoyance with this one.

The only other problem I had with the game was that it only covered Episodes I, II, and III. Fortunately, one of the unlockable items is a single mission set at the beginning of Episode IV which ended with the words "to be continued..."

The game is rated E with the notation of Violence. The violence is between Legos. Defeated Lego men fall apart into their component pieces and then fade away. The game is about as kid friendly as any that I've reviewed so far, and is a game you could get for a younger kid and not mind playing with them, especially given the drop in/drop out nature of multiplayer that lets the second player leave or enter the game at any point.

I highly recommend playing this game if you like Star Wars and ever played with Legos as a kid. I can't recommend buying it at the current retail price given the short playing time, but it's well worth a rental.

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