Lego Star Wars
The name Lego comes from the Danish 'Leg godt', meaning 'play well'. So then... Play Well Star Wars? Somehow, we still had a good feeling about this...
PS2, Xbox, PC
Lego is without question the most bestest toy ever devised; from the simplest, smallest beginnings can be created absolutely anything that you can possibly imagine. Indeed, imagination is the only limiting factor of Lego... well, that and cost of course, as it's not the cheapest toy in the Galaxy.
Over the years, Lego has licensed a number of franchises to help sell its product, and the Star Wars license has been one of its biggest sellers, so a videogame was the most non-brainiest of no-brainers. The only surprising thing about this release is just how long it has taken for someone to get round to it.
Traveller's Tales, most famous in recent years for taking over responsibility of the Crash Bandicoot series since Naughty Dog decided to deal with all things Jak, may have a somewhat uneven track record, but we'll waste no time in saying that Lego Star Wars is a brilliantly developed game. Many people would choose to describe it as a 'kids' game, a term usually only applied to mask the idiotic simplicity of a poorly developed title. When using it in reference to this game though, it puts it in the same category as saying Pixar only make kids films. That is, this game transcends any one target audience.
The game itself is set over 18 levels, spanning the whole of the new trilogy (Episodes I-III), with you and an optional second player controlling any number of Jedi and blaster wielding characters. Indeed, throughout the game you can unlock and control up to 56 characters from all three films (baddies included, Lego Darth Vader is just too cute), each type having different abilities of course.
Lightsaber wielding characters are the most fun, from the simple pleasures of reflecting blaster bolts, to the use of the Force to rebuild Lego objects in the game to solve puzzles. Blaster wielding characters (Clone Troopers, Amidala) have grappling hooks to climb, and Jar Jar Binks can go to hell (oh, and jump higher than other characters). Needless to say, the Lego-ised versions of all these characters look fantastic, and fit in perfectly in environments built totally from Lego blocks.
Each of the levels contains 10 hidden Minikit pieces, which when found will build a vehicle which you can view in the games hub area. All unlocked characters will be wandering around this hub area too, getting into impromptu fights with each other; a very nice touch. The other main purpose in each level is to collect a certain number of Lego studs (the little round pieces), getting enough on a level will unlock one piece of the Superkit. Get that for each level and there's a very nice bonus for doing so - one which points at what this game could (and should) lead to next.
One of the most distinctive signifiers of the Star Wars universe is sound, something that even the worst games based on the franchise seem to handle with relative ease. From the hum of a Lightsaber, the ricochet of a blaster shot, the growl of a Wookie and all the way up to the always excellent John Williams score - it's all in here, authenticating and deepening the experience no end.
There is nothing in the way of a voiceover, but considering some of the dialogue in the new trilogy of films that is more blessing than curse. We really don't need to hear about Hayden Christensen's sand filled gusset, and besides, the expressions on the faces of these little Lego people arguably show more emotion and acting skill than their real world counterparts, conveying some wonderfully humourous moments.
Everything so far sounds perfect, but now a warning; this game is peasy (the generally low difficulty level and infinite lives see to that), and anyone but the most cack-handed of gamers will breeze through everything, hidden bonuses included, in a matter of days. There isn't an enormous amount of replay value, other than to play through the whole game with someone else. More could have been done in this respect, as would more extras have been appreciated, say instructions on how to build some of the vehicles in the game with real world Lego...
Saying that though, almost every single moment you are playing this game will be a fun one, and isn't that why we're all doing this gaming thing in the first place? Drop any apprehension due to the game being aimed more at children, release the child within. The only decision regarding this game you need to make is whether to rent or buy it - as much as the developers deserve more sales, only those who actually have younger relatives who'll want to play it again and again will get the full value out of a purchase. Either a rental (or discounted purchase) will suffice all other players.
If you still aren't convinced enough to give it a go, then it's time for the old Kikizo mind trick...
Play this game, you must.
Kick (in the shins) anyone who ridicules your purchase of this game, you should.
Have fun, you will.
Disappointed only because you want MORE, you will be.
One final word of warning though, if you're the sort of person who doesn't like spoilers, then avoid playing the Episode III levels until you've seen the film. Oh, and Bruce Willis is a ghost.