We've heard of some fairly average ideas for a movie-game conversion, but were taken aback when Traveller's Tales announced they were developing Lego Star Wars for the XBox, PS2 and Gamecube. Lego and Star Wars come together for the first time in a game, and we weren't exactly expecting this game to be anymore than a fairly sub-par child's game. After playing the game we admit that we were very harsh - this game is better than the other of latest Star Wars games.
Traveller's Tales have a lot of experience with children's games, they have previously developed Crash Twinsanity and Spyro, it seems they have learnt a lot from these games, and LEGO Star Wars is much better than these titles. Lego Star Wars has a fairly simple premise behind it, the scenarios from Star Wars: Episode I, Episode II & Episode III are recreated, but in Lego form. Now while this doesn't sound like the most exciting game concept, it works surprisingly well, with Traveller's Tales putting a lot of effort into this game. The actual simplicity of the game is half of where the genius lies, there are only three basic controls and the game's puzzles are never too hard, but they do require a lot of logic.
Incorporating all three movies into one game allows for a lot more freedom, there is no romance from Episode I in this game, or boring introductions, Lego Star Wars focuses solely on the best parts of all three movies and blends them into one game. This means repelling the droid onslaught of the Genosian, the Darth Maul fights and pod racing on Mos Espa.
The main mode of the game is the single-player mode, which takes the player through all three Episodes. One of the most unique features of the game is the 'drop in, drop out' two play co-operative mode, at any time in single player a second player can drop in and take control of the co-operative player, this is a brilliant addition as the player can drop in and drop out as they please.
Aside from the single player mode there is also a free play mode, this is where unlocked characters (there are a total of fifty to unlock) can be played in different scenarios to those of the films. There are no other modes aside from these two, which is a disappointment as we would have liked to have seen more, however these two options are polished so well that you probably won't even notice the lack of variety in the modes.
The vehicles are one of the greatest aspects of the game, some of the levels include Naboo fighters, pod racers, speeder bikes and vehicles from Episode 3. Ironically enough, if you're a Star Wars fan there is a lot of new information in the game from Episode 3, which makes the game worth playing for, just to see the bonuses, we should point out they are all in LEGO form though.
The game play is surprisingly varied, with a huge selection of levels (unfortunately they can be completed quickly) and a large variety of characters. The levels never really get boring as they take place in all aspects of the Star Wars universe. At times the levels can feel very restrictive though, as they open up slowly rather than being free-roaming, the camera is not movable, which means at times the camera can be a huge distraction to the game. However, the game is really targetted for children, so the difficulty level has been toned significantly, there are some difficult battles, but none that take a few goes to complete.
The graphics are the biggest surprise of the game, every LEGO block has been invidividually modelled and looks brilliant. The cut-scenes are recreated really well, and are surprisingly immersive, and even though the characters are in LEGO form, they are still easily recognisable. The LEGO blocks look absolutely fantastic, and the environments keep the atmosphere of the game well. At times we believe the chlostrophobic feel is done on purpose, as the pressure does mount quite quickly.
The John William's score has been incorporated into this game with surround sound, there is no speech aside from the score, excluding a few basic sound effects which really don't count. However, having no speech actually works surprisingly well and doesn't make the game feel interrupted, there are no audio aids (which often happens in children's games) which make the game feel more authentic. Plus wouldn't Star Wars have been better if Hayden Chrstianson didn't speak?
There are a lot of unlockables which will keep the game entertaining, aside from the free play mode (which has different scenes to that of the movies) there are plenty of unlockable characters, hidden levels and vehicles. All your favourite Star Wars characters can be unlocked, but we don't want to give too much away right now. The single player mode will unfortunately only take a couple of days to knock over, but the unlockable characters should keep the player entertained. There is no online play, and we could imagine the possibilities of online play.
LEGO Star Wars really is the kind of game that appeals to both children and adults, much like the Crash Bandicoot franchise. The game play is quick and addictive which should satisfy adults, and the puzzles aren't too difficult, but still put up a challenge which should appeal to children. Add the Star Wars characters into the mix, and you have a very satisfying child's game, which can be played by adults. Who would have thought the combination of LEGO and Star Wars would make such a surprisingly good game? There are a few minor flaws in the game, such as the control system, lack of modes and not much speech, but aside from this we really cannot fault Lego Star Wars. We were expecting a novel child's game, but it turns out the game is fun for both children and adults. We hope Traveller's Tales begin work on developing a Lego Star Wars game based on Episode IV, IIV and VII, it is turns out as good as this game then we're in for another LEGO surprise.