When we reviewed the original Lego Star Wars last year we exclaimed that it was one of the surprises of the year and critically it was, receiving accolades and awards all over the place. This doesn't always translate to commercial success though but for Lego Star Wars it did, the game was one of the best selling titles of 2005 and one of the most popular kids games, it had issues but it was a thoroughly enjoyable game, so when it's sequel was announced nobody was surprised. Unsurprisingly, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is actually even better than it's predecessor, with a few improvements that differentiate the game from it's prequel.
The greatest difference between this game and the previous title is the setting, as the name implies you're actually now able to play through episodes IV, V and VI. When you first begin the game you start off at Mos Eisley Cantina, which acts like a hub. Aside from selecting the levels, you can also purchase cheats and create your own character. Initially you'll only have access to Episode IV, with V and VI unlockable after you complete the first level. For the uninformed, the game is primarily an action adventure title, you take control of a character from the Star Wars franchise and work your way through defeating the enemies and solving the puzzles.
You can switch characters on the fly by pressing Y and you'll need to keep swapping to solve some of the puzzles. Each character has their own unique attributes, for example Princess Leia and Han Solo can shoot as well as grapple to reach certain areas, R2D2 and C3PO are basically there to activate switches and unlock doors and the Jedi characters have lightsabers and can use the force to manipulate objects in the environment. All of the characters in the game are also now able to build. By pressing B on certain objects you can build things out of Lego, which may give a small token reward or be essential to solving a puzzle.
The combat hasn't really been improved all that much which is a little disappointing. It can become repetitive and all you basically have to do is point in the correct direction and you'll eventually shoot someone. If you die you just lose some coins as well, so you don't need to start from the beginning. Vehicles have a larger emphasis in the story mode as well, you can take control of a wide range of vehicles or even animals, although they're criminally slow.
One of the greatest features of the game is the co-op support. Much like the arcade titles from the 80's, you're able to insert a coin (or press start on the second controller in this case) and jump into the level and fight alongside your friend. You can quickly jump in or you can quickly jump out which is great fun for parents who want to play games with their children. Unfortunately, Traveller's Tales have omitted online co-op, which is a bit of a shame. The game also features optional adaptive difficulty, so if you are finding things too hard then the game will adapt to make things a little easier, although overall the games does feel a little more difficult than it's predecessor.
Aside from the pretty basic combat, the camera can also get in the way a little bit at times. The camera is basically fixed and, although you can move it a little here and there, there are quite a few times in the game where the camera hides extra areas of the game or enemies attacking you - it would be a little easier if you could have full control over the camera. If you owned the original Lego Star Wars for the Xbox, GameCube or the PlayStation2 with a saved file then the game will import all of the characters that you've unlocked from the original game. Considering the Xbox 360 version didn't have a predecessor, Lucasarts will be making all of the characters available to download on the marketplace shortly - although this won't be a free download. It's a little disappointing that Lucasarts didn't just incorporate them into the Xbox 360 version in the first place, considering you're already paying a premium for the Xbox 360 title. The Xbox 360 version also offers a decent amount of achievements, completing the game the first time will net you a decent amount of achievements but there are a few challenges for those who want to get all 1000 points.
Playing through the game the first time will take about six hours but it's only really touching the surface of what the game has to offer. As you play through the story mode the first time you'll notice there are a few areas that can only be reached by certain characters, as you progress through the game you will unlock these characters so you can take your characters back to the original levels to unlock secrets. There is also a freeplay option, as well as other modes to unlock where you can compete against the clock - completing these levels on time will unlock even more bonuses. Whilst the first play through of Lego Star Wars II isn't extremely long there is plenty to keep coming back too.
Visually Lego Star Wars II is pretty polished, it's not clear at first glance that you're playing an Xbox 360 title but there are a few extra details included. For some reason when things begin to get chaotic there are also sometimes frame rate issues, which is a little bit surprising considering we didn't really think this game was pushing the Xbox 360 all that hard. Star Wars fans will love the soundtrack because it adds to the authenticity of the game, although there is no voice acting it's always clear what's going on.
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy doesn't make any major changes to the gameplay but the game is still incredible fun for children and adults alike. The melee is still a little simplistic and the camera can get in the way, but it really feels like you're in a Lego universe with some incredibly varied puzzles as well as some intense action. Children may find the game presents a little more of a challenge this time around and adults are likely to spend a long time trying to find everything the game has to offer. Completing the story mode is only the beginning!