Review: LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an action adventure platform game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita. Star Wars originated in 1977 upon the release of the first Star Wars film later sub-titled as A New Hope which was created, written and directed by George Lucas with a budget of $11 million actually earned $775.4 million at the box office; securing its place in pop culture. Two sequels were released in the form of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in 1980 and 1983 respectively to complete the original trilogy, while the prequel trilogy began in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005. A sequel trilogy began in 2015 with The Force Awakens to be followed by Episodes VIII and IX, while there has also been an animated film in 2008 called The Clone Wars which was accompanied by an animated television series of the same name from 2008 to 2014 followed by a further animated television series titled Star Wars: Rebels from 2014, alongside other types of media such as novels, comics, soundtrack albums, a wide range of toys and even theme parks, amongst many more types of media.
There have been dozens of officially licensed Star Wars games with the first-ever game being a first-person space combat game developed by Atari as an arcade game titled Star Wars in May 1983. This was followed by a range of home console conversions from 1983 to 1984 on Atari 2600, Atari 5200 and Commodore 64 before a further range of home console ports followed between 1987 and 1988 for the Amiga, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum and more besides. The LEGO Star Wars series began in March 2005 with the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game on PS2 based upon the story of the prequel trilogy, while a sequel was released on PS2 and PSP in September 2006 which told the story of the original trilogy followed by LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga on PS3 in May 2007 that bundled the first two LEGO Star Wars games together, although LEGO Star Wars would return in March 2011 with a tie-in to the animated film and television series The Clone Wars on PS3 and PSP, but does LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens set a new level of quality for the LEGO Star Wars series and Star Wars focused gaming?
The story revolves around all of the storylines featured in the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, although there are also new story levels which produce adventures that take place between the time period of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The game includes a prologue, ten chapters and an epilogue for the story missions encompassing Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as six unlockable story missions, while there are five hubs and even character specific side missions including 4 bounty hunter missions, 12 first order missions, 8 resistance missions, 8 scavenger missions and 6 translation missions with all of the classic LEGO gameplay trademarks the series has became known for, alongside the introduction of some new features including excellent third-person cover shooter based blaster battles.
The free play mode allows the player to revisit each completed level in any order in an attempt to utilise the skills of each unlocked character by switching to characters that cannot be used during story mode, therefore attempting to find which character’s abilities hold the key to progressing beyond a tricky puzzle and finding out what is hidden beyond an alternative route.
There are lots of additional activities beyond completing the levels comprising of 19 races available in free play mode with participation available via droids, on foot characters or miniature representations of ships; achieving True Avenger status on every level by collecting a specific amount of LEGO studs; unlocking 205 characters; collecting 180 minikits; collecting 250 gold bricks with a variety of purposes such as collecting 10 to 60 gold bricks within The Force Awakens levels to unlock new story missions that go beyond the story of The Force Awakens; collecting 35 carbonite bricks to unlock characters; purchasing 25 red bricks to unlock a variety of extras such as a stud magnet; x2, x4, x6, x8 and x10 multipliers; disco lightsabers that change colour; a collectible detector; and much more besides for a cost ranging from 100,000 to 5,000,000 LEGO studs which are used as a form of in-game currency.
The character design is excellent as it reflects that of not only what you would anticipate from a LEGO game, but also Star Wars cinematic films as there are numerous unlockable playable characters which can be unlocked as you play and purchased using LEGO studs that are collected throughout the game. Characters can use their unique abilities to unlock different areas of levels such as Leia who can use grappling hooks to reach higher areas; Boba Fett has the ability of hovering to out of reach areas; Chewbacca as well as Heavy and Sergeant First Order Stormtroopers can destroy silver LEGO objects as well as First Order Flametroopers being able to destroy gold LEGO objects to create access to some new areas; Han Solo has the ability to use resistance terminals; droids including R2-D2, R2-KT, R2-Q5 and R3-A2 have the capabilities to use astromech terminals, bypass toxic areas and bypass cold areas; and much more besides. Certain characters can enter into specific side missions such as C-3PO, Chewbacca, Han Solo, Leia and more besides can accept resistance missions, while Kylo Ren can accept first order missions; Jawa can accept scavenger missions and K-3PO can accept translation missions. Characters can engage in hand-to-hand combat and also have their own combat manoeuvres to take on enemies such as Han Solo firing his blaster; First Order Flametroopers have flamethrowers; FN-2199 carries a Z6 Baton; Darth Maul, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren wielding a lightsaber; and more besides. Custom characters can be created by changing a part of the selected character or completely changing the character to create something made up of parts from other characters, although character customisation must be unlocked by entering a room within an area in which the carbonites are decarbonised, walking to the back of the room and laying down in a hub world named D’Qar.
The environment design is faithful to the subject matter as it includes iconic environments from Star Wars films such as the remote desert planet of Jakku and the ice planet of Starkiller Base containing a deadly energy weapon within the core of the planet, while a new feature which generally sets environments apart from this game in comparison to other LEGO games is the introduction of multi-build paths that effectively allows players to build an object to complete a new objective or reach a new area, dismantle it, then re-build it as an alternative object in order to complete another new objective or reach another new area.
There are multiple downloadable content packs available such as the free Droid Character Pack which includes eight characters from the Star Wars galaxy, while there is also a season pass priced at £7.99 including the exclusive Jedi Character Pack, further new characters from beyond the film and three new level packs focused on guiding Poe back to the Resistance from Jakku, leading the assault on Takodana as Kylo Ren and witnessing the demise of Starkiller Base as Resistance pilots.
The portable release on Vita is comparable to the home console version on PS4 with the only noticeable differences being the simplification of levels which are split up into smaller segments, although that could potentially play to the Vita’s strengths if anything due to the increased pick up and play feel to the gameplay working in harmony with the premise of a portable console, although there are a couple of the extra levels that are missing. The positives surrounding the Vita release include all five open-world hubs remaining fully intact, while the graphics are pretty good with a fluent frame-rate and quick loading times, alongside all of the core gameplay elements and character side missions still being included for what makes for an impressive LEGO Star Wars debut on Vita.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to jump or double tapping X quickly twice to roll when playing as an on-foot character or pressing X to flight evade when piloting a ship; pressing O to interact with an object or to use the Force, build, use or activate; pressing triangle to switch from controlling one character to a nearby character; pressing square or R2 to perform an attack, holding square or R2 to aim; pressing L1 or R1 to cycle through characters; pressing L2 to dodge roll when playing as an on-foot character or pressing L2 to boost when piloting a ship; changing the direction of the left analogue stick or alternatively pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to move your selected character or ship; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the camera; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad displays the map during the hub area, while the light bar only changes colour when a second player joins the game and the DualShock 4 controller vibrates when a character dies before respawning.
Graphically, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens possesses excellent character and ship models and animations with everything in the world, alongside the characters and ships having a charming appeal to them; not only as they are all made entirely from LEGO but also as they are incredibly faithful recreations of dozens of characters, ships and environments from the Star Wars films covered within the story.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menu, additional content menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. The background of the menu screens immediately sets the scene as they consist of the inner workings of the resistance base such as crew members situated just outside the interior of the base working on preparing an X-Wing Fighter for battle.
The voice-overs for the majority of the characters are lifted directly from the Star Wars films, so when you are hearing the dialogue of Han Solo, then you really are hearing Harrison Ford with further noticeable archive audio from Carrie Fisher as Leia, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, John Boyega as Finn, Daisy Ridley as Rey, Oscar Isaac as Poe Damoeron, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka and much more besides, while there are also exceptional voice-over artists such as Matthew Mercer and JB Blanc amongst many more talented voice-over artists fulfilling a variety of character roles on the fringe of the story that interweaves with the archived audio to tell the story as authentically as possible. Sound effects include a variety of characters walking, running, jumping, climbing, throwing, punching, firing weapons, using their unique abilities, using the Force, piloting ships, building and collecting LEGO studs as well as explosions and ambient sounds, while the soundtrack mostly comprises of the iconic theme composed by John Williams. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have produced the authentic Star Wars character voice-overs or soundtrack or possibly even sound effects.
The trophy list includes 50 trophies with 40 bronze trophies, 6 silver trophies, 3 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Just under half of the trophies can be earned naturally during the first playthrough as there are ten chapter based trophies including a bronze trophy for completing each chapter, eight missions and the There Has Been An Awakening gold trophy for completing all of the chapters and missions. The rest of the trophy list centres around achieving and unlocking pretty much everything the game has to offer, although there are some easier trophies such as The Force, It’s Calling To You bronze trophy for collecting a certain amount of studs in any given level which can be achieved by breaking the majority of the objects you find in the surrounding environments and destroying enemies in the first story mission. There are trophies which require for particular characters to be used within a session of playing the game such as the I Like That Wookiee bronze trophy for completing a free play level playing as Maz Kanata and Chewbacca; the Family Reunion bronze trophy for playing as Han Solo and Kylo Ren within the same party; the Show Me, Grandfather bronze trophy for defeating Kylo Ren when playing as Darth Vader; and the Chewie, We’re Home bronze trophy for playing as Han Solo (Classic) and Chewbacca on the Millennium Falcon. The hardest trophies include the Red Leader silver trophy for purchasing all 25 Red Brick Extras which will take collecting a huge amount of studs to be collected before everything can be purchased and the Force Is Strong With This One gold trophy for achieving 100% completion for everything in the game. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 25 to 35 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although enemies have improved A.I. as they now have the capability of building using LEGO bricks to support Stormtroopers, call in air support, reinforcements or heavy artillery. However, despite the enhancement of enemy A.I.; characters will immediately respawn after dying in combat and there are some puzzles that require changing to another character in order to gain access to certain areas or generally progress. These gameplay elements result in the difficulty curve being only as hard as the player would find the puzzles, exploration and combat, therefore it is most likely that players would generally find the game relatively easy to progress through which is rather appropriate given the appeal of LEGO to a wide audience and age range from young children to adults.
Split-screen multiplayer allows a second player to join in at any given moment via drop-in/drop-out multiplayer and play co-operatively, while each of the levels see both players working together within the same environment to figure out puzzles and overcome obstacles. The co-operative multiplayer works exceptionally well with the split-screen behaving dynamically which varies the split based upon the current action taking place or alternatively utilising a fixed vertical split, therefore allowing both players to explore two completely separate areas of the same level or hub area without restriction to their location, movements or actions.
A genuine disappointment is the lack of competitive multiplayer, especially given that LEGO Marvel’s Avengers had previously introduced an amazing feature in which players could unlock the ability to target the second player and vice versa in split-screen multiplayer after purchasing the corresponding red brick extra for 1,000,000 LEGO studs. Instead of embracing that feature and taking it to the next level; players will have to continue imagining their fantasy LEGO Star Wars outer space combat battles such as the Millennium Falcon fighting off against an X-Wing Fighter and on foot lightsaber battles such as Kylo Ren squaring up against Darth Vader or any other interesting combination.
There are no online leaderboards which is surprising as they could have featured the quickest times from every player who had completed each level and the entire game as well as the amount of objectives completed in single player or co-operatively with further leaderboards for the highest amount of LEGO studs collected per level and throughout the game.
The replayability of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens includes replaying levels to collect and purchase red bricks, gold bricks, carbonite bricks, minikits and more besides which you may have been unable to do so during the first playthrough without having access to a certain character, while revisiting levels in free play mode as different characters you have unlocked with different abilities and attempting to find which character can solve a puzzle and unlock whatever may lay beyond it. There is a natural satisfaction of creating your own characters and collecting LEGO studs as well as deconstructing particular objects and constructing an item that is of use to reach the next area of the level, while split-screen co-operative multiplayer is always fun to play with a friend.
Overall, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a genuinely faithful recreation of the Star Wars universe, while being brilliantly entertaining, charming and as good as any LEGO Star Wars game which has came before it, therefore it is not only a highly recommended game if you are a fan of LEGO games, but also if you are a fan of the Star Wars universe.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Trademark LEGO humour spin on major scenes from the film
- Over 200 characters from the Star Wars universe
- Dozens of collectables and unlockables
- Split-screen local co-operative multiplayer
- Many additional activities such as participating in races during Free Play mode
- Reaching new areas in previously completed levels during Free Play mode by playing as unlocked characters and utilising their different abilities to progress beyond a puzzle
- Character customisation
- Collecting LEGO studs is as satisfying as ever
What I Dislike:
- No option to target second player that was previously included as an unlockable in LEGO Marvel's Avengers
- No competitive lightsaber or dogfight battles