“With great power comes great responsibility.”
The LEGO series of games have managed something remarkable throughout the years. Whether it’s the Pirates of the Caribbean or Jurassic Park, the studio at Traveler’s Tales has proven time-and-time again that they can take a movie franchise and deconstruct it down to its core and make it relatable to a wider audience. And, with the most recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the studio was tasked once again to recreate cinema magic with their own building blocks.
Speaking openly, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the first LEGO game that I had purchased for my own enjoyment. I wasn’t planning on reviewing it, only purchasing it as the LEGO Jurassic World game married two of my favorite things: Dinosaurs and pun-filled humor. Having the LEGO backdrop was just a bonus. So, it was almost a no brainer when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was also going to see the treatment that I was going to partake in purchasing process. However, I couldn’t be more jarred by my most recent LEGO experience. As you embark on quest in the galaxy—the experience is shallow at best.
In this jump into the Star Wars universe, Episode VII could have been something special. There was so much potential to harness the characterstics of newcomers Rey, Finn and Poe. With a diverse cast inclusive of the trio, there was so much wasted potential within combat and abilities. Instead, Finn is just like Han Solo, who is just like any other Storm Trooper you encounter in the game. If it weren’t for BB-8 or characters swaps needed to complete puzzles, there would be no reason to even have varying characters.
Looking back on my playthrough, there are some instances where LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens executes with precision. The vehicle gameplay is fun, intuitive, and has some of the finer visual aspects to the game. The puzzles continue to be one of the better parts, if not what makes the LEGO franchise unique after each iteration. However, those are vastly overshadowed by the bland gameplay, and horrendous assets that can be found in every other level and interpretation of the Star Wars universe.
Character models feature blurry faces, like Maz’s spectacles and almost unidentifiable character model, is laughably bad. Levels chug along sluggishly, which leaves it hard to determine whether button pushes are missed due to this lack of optimization, or the simple fact that they aren’t simply working. Even the most simplistic droids look like they were ripped from the PlayStation 1 era of gaming.
Most of the problems mentioned above wouldn’t have been so impactful if they didn’t impede the core of the gameplay.
For example, when navigating the Resistance Base, I moved at a snail’s pace while the world around me struggled to generate. Then, when I finally reached my destination. the supply hangar, the puzzle would not conclude or progress as the animation for Finn wouldn’t register when standing in front of the door I was now supposed to slice with my light saber. At this point, in the typical LEGO game fashion, I was wondering what exactly I had missed. It was only when I vacated the hanger, exited the level, and then restarted the mission that I could complete the tedious hunt for ice cream. This was one of a handful times that, due to the games poor optimization and shoddy level design, that I began to take back everything positive I had thought about TT Fusion and the games it had previously produced.
To create a reference point of authenticity, the game features original soundbites from the movie along with other voice acting specific to the games’ atmosphere. But, I would have much rather sacrificed with false sense of authenticity for more focused level design and overall quality. Even the sound bites are noticeably frazzled, having a low bitrate ting to them. They are just as choppy as the game, filled with the same lackluster design you wouldn’t in a million years, in a galaxy far away, expect from Tt Games.
I feel that I could continue on with negatives about LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To summarize, the game is lacking in level design, quality, and gameplay. The moments of fun are but mere flashes in the pan, mostly found in the flying Tie-Fighters and Poe’s X-Wing.
I played continuously through each level, waiting to see how TT would handle the death of Han Solo. But, much like the rest of the game, it was done in a “there it is….oh, now it’s gone” fashion. The visuals are subpar, something that the Nintendo 3DS is more than capable of handling. If you disagree, then you can do as I did and compare it to games like LEGO Harry Potter, The Pirates of the Caribbean or City Undercover: The Chase Begins. All of these are more visual polished and ambitious than what was sold to me.
As a Star Wars and LEGO fan, I found it extremely hard to dislike LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But, after playing through it in its entirety, I can’t help but feel robbed of my money. Sure, the game includes a physical set to build Poe’s nifty X-Wing, but that’s probably where you will have the most fun. If there was an option to jump to lightspeed to the end of the game, even that ride would be too short.