The very first video game I played with my son was the original Lego Movie game. It seemed like an ideal intro to gaming for a 6 year old, with it’s simple controls, links back to the film that he couldn’t get enough of, and enough collecting and hunting round for characters and other collectables to keep us going for months. Since then the Lego games have been central to our joint enjoyment in games, and we’ve ploughed through the numerous games based on the likes of Marvel, The Hobbit, Indiana Jones and anything else we could get our brick-loving hands on.
So when The Skywalker Saga was announced the excitement started to build all over again, and while it’s taken longer than we expected it’s finally arrived, and the magic has been rekindled all over again, This time though, there’s an extra bit of brilliance that has really made this an extra treat: my son has never seen Star Wars and knew nothing of the characters or storylines. This game, then, was every bit as much about enjoying the story of the nine Star Wars films than the actual game itself, and it’s been a genuinely fantastic journey.
Starting the game gives you the choice of which trilogy to start first. You can start at any of the “first” films (which for some people will spark the debate of whether to do them in release order or the order the actual outcomes happen in) but you need to work though each trilogy in order – those of you looking to get cracking of Return of the Jedi will need to finish Episodes 4 and 5 first. But that’s not a bad thing, the films themselves aren’t excessively long, and a couple of hours is probably enough to more or less get through all of the levels in one of the films if you ignore side missions and just hammer through the main levels. Once that’s done, in true Lego style, you can go back into Free Play with your choice of characters and try to hunt down the various unlockables that litter the game.
And those characters… wow, there’s a lot, nearly 400 in fact. If a character appears in any of the films, there’s a very high chance they’ll be available in the game. Helpfully they’re also split into categories depending of whether they’re a droid, Jedi, scavenger or whatever else, so during those Free Play levels or while wandering around the vast free roaming areas if you stumble upon something that can only be used by a certain character type (such as a locked door panel that might need a droid like R2-D2 or BB-8) you don’t need to worry about remembering which character has which abilities, or messing with filters like in some of the Marvel games, you can just jump to the section you want and pick whichever character takes your fancy. Nicely done.
There’s also a healthy range of spaceships to unlock as well which you actually get to fly around space and take part in space battles against TIE Fighters and other enemy ships. Piloting an X-Wing or the Millennium Falcon never gets old, but when you unlock the mini version of the Death Star and get to fly around blasting bad guys while perched atop a miniature version of the iconic structure you know you’re in the middle of something fun.
As with all Lego games, the replayability is off the scale. Between completing levels to 100% by collecting every minikit piece, special brick and data card and finding all of the side missions that reward you with characters, ships or other items there’s a massive amount of game here. There’s a very light RPG element too which gives an interesting spin on things, letting you add extra abilities or features to individual categories (such as bypassing the short puzzles to unlock doors) or for the game as a whole (extra health, highlighting hidden items, that kind of thing), acting as a rudimentary skill tree without the complexities of a “normal” RPG game. Then you have the data cards, those things that traditionally have been unlocked with elusive Red Bricks, such as stud multipliers, changing light sabres for baguettes, or even replacing the shooting sound effects with spoken “pew pew” sounds, akin to some early scenes in the Lego Movie. It adds such a great level of customisation to the game, and for those of you who miss the old style Lego games without the spoken dialogue, you can even unlock Mumble Mode, which does away with all of that.
Playing through this with my son was one of those amazing experiences that don’t happen very often. Seeing him gasp at the various plot twists (most notably surrounding the various family links between the main characters) while enjoying the game itself has been incredible; he even settled that argument by saying, totally unprompted, “this one’s a bit boring” part-way through The Phantom Menace… so if you’re in a similar position, with a child who hasn’t seen Star Wars but loves Lego, this is going to be a pretty majestic journey. But even if that’s not you and it’s just the Lego games you enjoy then this will serve you very well. It’s more of the same, but since when has more of a greatthing been a problem?
Reviewed on PS5
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