LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Wii U, PS4, PS3, Vita, 3DS, Xbox One, 360, PC, iOS, Google Play)

LEGO_BOXA (not so) long time ago in a galaxy (not too) far, far away, LEGO Star Wars came out and pretty much launched the massively successful LEGO movie-based video game line.  Now the series is returning to the franchise that started it all with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, based on the newest film.  Join Rey, BB-8 and the rest of the gang as they play out scenes from the movie in LEGO form, which also features some new gameplay modes and sidequests that flesh out the characters and storyline of the Star Wars universe.  It’s available for practically every game playing device on the market right now, but reviewed on Wii U here.

At heart, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is like any other in the block building series. Sock enemies, bash blocks and build new LEGO structures, drive vehicles, use teamwork, and solve puzzles. Collect LEGO studs to buy new characters to use in Free Play, and find hidden red and gold LEGO bricks to unlock cheats and other goodies. Just like the others, a second player can join in and hop out at any time for some co-op fun.  Between stages, you’ll actually visit not one, but several hub worlds, represented by planets in the movie.  To find the next stage to continue the story, just follow the clear LEGO studs until you reach your goal.  You can also find extra goodies in each stage in Free Play, and other activities in the hub worlds.

But this LEGO game does add a few new gameplay ideas.  One is the “Multi-Build System.”  Sometimes, whenever you come across broken LEGO pieces that you can make things with, it’ll give you the option to build two or more different things with them to solve puzzles.  Just hold down the correct direction on the control stick as you build.  You can break objects that you built, and then rebuild them again into something different.  It’s not a significant change, but it does allow for some new puzzle solving strategies.  Another new system is the “Blaster Battles.”  At certain points in the levels, you will have to find cover and rise up when the coast is clear and aim and shoot at enemies with your laser blasters.  It kind of reminds me of some of the duck-and-cover gameplay found in titles like Gears of War or Time Crisis. 

The main story mode is a tiny bit shorter than most LEGO game titles, running at about 10 levels or so.  But whenever you collect a certain amount of gold bricks, you can unlock extra levels.  These levels are like side stories for some of the characters and provide never before seen insight and story not seen in the movie.  And it gives you an excuse to collect more of the gold bricks to see all the stages!  You’ll find these extra levels by exploring the hub planets.  And of course there are dogfight battles using the spaceships from the movie, as well as extra races featuring mini versions of the vehicles!  I was also impressed that most of the cast from the movie provided the voices for this game, too!  I wonder how Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher felt about having to say extra silly lines for the LEGO game, like “Wookie Cookie.”

Of course, every LEGO game has its problems, and this one is no exception.  Although I have to say that while every LEGO game I’ve played is buggy, this one seems less so.  I haven’t had the game freeze up on me yet (knock on wood), but there was one time where I did get stuck and Player Two had to kill me to get me unstuck.  And at least in the Wii U version, the framerate got a little choppy at times, but it didn’t bother me that much.  Finally, in the dogfight sections, the default controls always have the inverted flight controls be off, so if you want to control your spaceship like how you do in most games, you’ll have to turn it on every time.  But most of those problems are pretty minor.  This is certainly one of the better LEGO games out there and any Star Wars and LEGO fans in your family will definitely enjoy this.


Kid Factor:

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, and Mild Language. You can punch and shoot bad guys, but they just fall down or go to pieces when defeated. They make it perfectly clear that everything is made out of LEGOs, so violence isn’t really that bad.  I’d be OK letting any kid play any of the LEGO games, personally. If you’re comfortable with your kids watching the Star Wars movies, they’ll be OK with this game, too. If you are defeated, you just appear right back where you were with a minimal loss of studs, so it’s not too frustrating. Even though the game has tons of spoken voice, reading skill is still helpful for the menus and tips. If a younger player does need assistance, another can join in at any time. Which is always recommended, as LEGO games are more fun with a friend anyway. Plus, kids love Star Wars and LEGOs, so this is a perfect match.

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