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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens marks the fifth game in Traveler’s Tales’ LEGO Star Wars series and finally brings the series to the modern era of Star Wars films, taking on the narrative of the biggest Star Wars movie ever, The Force Awakens.

Injecting new mechanics into the formula, while also attempting to add their LEGO brand of humour into the proceedings, the result is a good but mixed bag of a game, marred by slight but frustrating technical issues, that will provide enjoyment in the moment but not also sheds light on how far it falls from the source material.

Narratively, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens does follow the same beats of the film, while padding out the length with asides and gameplay that make it a much beefier experience in regard to running time. As much as it may be hard to fathom that anyone interested hasn’t seen the film by now, I won’t go into spoilers here. I will, however, discuss how disparate the tone of this game is from that of the film. Most people would say that Star Wars is family entertainment and for as much humor as The Force Awakens film has, it is a very dark film thematically, and the result clashes with the attempts at humour TT Fusion attempts to insert into the game. Considering that little of the humor is very funny, or even mildly amusing, it’s even more of a disappointment, especially when taking into account just how genuinely funny the movie is. I’m sure that some will find the new “jokes” in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be funny, but it didn’t appeal to me. A lot of the best lines and situations from the film make their way into the game but without the ability to really show emotion, these jokes that elicited genuine laughter in the film fall flat here.

The gameplay of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the real draw and for the most part, it’s actually pretty good, and at times great. The bulk of the mechanics remain unchanged with the majority of the game focusing on light, unchallenging combat, puzzle solving requiring using LEGO to build solutions and switching between characters, and light platforming. There are also a few flying, dogfighting sections that are easily the highlight of the gameplay for me; they’re actually pretty fun, easy to control and offer a genuine “Star Wars” experience.

What’s new are a few tweaks to the existing formula such as cover shooting and Multi-Builds which provide multiple steps to solving puzzles through building items out of the same pieces. One is actually a fresh experience; the other seems like an afterthought executed half-heartedly. As you might be able to guess, the building is the better of the mechanics as it expands on a solid existing mechanic and adds some depth to the puzzles. Choosing the right order to build things in makes the puzzles require a little more thought than in previous games which makes puzzles slightly more challenging. Never taxing as these games are also made for kids, but satisfying enough that it doesn’t feel mindless.

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Cover shooting isn’t nearly as well done. While it was neat in the first few sections, the flaws start to really show as these sections keep popping up. You simply press one button when prompted to go into cover and press the left trigger to pop up from cover to shoot locked on targets or you can move the left stick to choose where you aim. Beyond the pedestrian approach to cover shooting, using the left stick to move the reticle is absolutely counter intuitive to anyone that has been playing shooters on consoles for the past 15 years.

Generally, and for the great majority of the game, switching between characters is seamless and works as intended. Unfortunately, I had to start the last chapter over twice because the character I was switching to was trapped in an animation or area I couldn’t switch out from. Furthermore, and I am aware that it’s a nitpick to a degree, but having to physically touch the LEGO pieces that fall on the ground to pick them up rather than having a proximity feature that draws them to the character you’re controlling like so many games have done previously was pretty irksome. It got to the point where I stopped bothering to collect them.

One area that is absolutely flawless is the sound design. From the opening Star Wars theme – which will never cease to bring me joy – and various John Williams themes, to the sound of the lasers, the hum of machines, the sounds projected by the X-Wings and Tie-Fighters as they wiz by, to the voice acting and more, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens sounds so authentically Star Wars that it was easy to forget that I was playing a goofy game with LEGO. It really did a lot to bring me into the world of Star Wars.

All things considered, TT Fusion did an admirable job with what they had to work with, and I imagine it couldn’t be easy.  LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is another fine addition to the LEGO Star Wars series that offers a lot of unlocks for players to sink their time into, stellar flying sections, weak cover shooting, fun puzzles, juvenile humour and a stark contrast to the dark tone of the film its based on. If you’re a fan of the LEGO Star Wars games, by all means play it. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, there is clearly enough care and reverence here to get some enjoyment as well. Just don’t expect much of any challenge beyond some of the puzzles and don’t expect sophisticated humour, either.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U and 3DS. We reviewed the PS4 version.
Sean is a semi-retired, semi-grown up hardcore kid who has been gaming since his hands could grip an arcade stick. A lover and critic of movies, music and video games, Sean is always quick with an opinion, a heaping dose of snark, and a healthy dose of pragmatism. The hill he will die on will always be "gameplay over story".