In 2005 TT Games released the first licensed LEGO game with LEGO Star Wars. Since then, the team has released over 20 LEGO games including LEGO Star Wars: The Original Saga and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. 11 years later, TT Games continues its adventures in a galaxy far, far away with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which might be the best LEGO game ever made.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (LEGO TFA) recreates the adventures of Rey and Fin as they join forces to take down Kylo Ren and the First Order. The LEGO games have always been great at taking what is shown on-screen and fleshing it out with level design and gameplay. LEGO TFA is no different, from escaping Jakku to exploring Maz’s cantina, every inch of the game is authentic to the look and feel of the movie. The campaign is limited to 10 chapters that tell the story of The Force Awakens, however you have a ton of additional content including story missions like where C-3PO got a red arm or how Han and Chewie captured the Rathtars. Everything that is added just supports the overall depth of the story being told.
The LEGO games haven’t fundamentally changed much since the beginning. They are 3D Action games where the player runs, jumps, and shoots their way through waves of enemies, with a some puzzle solving thrown in for good measure. Almost every iteration of the LEGO series includes a new feature or mechanic to deepen the gameplay. LEGO TFA continues this tradition by adding cover based shooting. During specific areas of a level, you will be surrounded and have to take cover. Once in cover, you can pop up and shoot at the enemies. These areas have a set number of enemies that you will need to take down before moving on. Once you have completed the shooting section, the game will open back up to it’s normal run/jump/shoot formula. The shooter mechanic works great and does a good job of adding just a little flair to the already stellar gameplay.
Another noticeable change to the game are the visuals. LEGO games have never been recognized as graphical masterpieces…they are digital recreations of children’s toys after all. However, the games have always had great art design, full of charm and character. LEGO TFA really raises it’s game when it comes to both graphics and design. On the graphics side, there is just so much going on in the game. Early on, on Jakku, I was running around smacking bushes and collecting studs…as you do…when I stopped to notice that close in the foreground there were fully animated merchants cowering in fear. In the background, two Stormtroopers, in bathing suits and helmets, played some beach volleyball (yes, Top Gun inspired), and overhead TIE Fighters were passing by. All of this was happening while Rey and BB8 ran around and broke things. There was no slow down and the attention to detail was amazing. The design side is a little harder to describe, but TT Games has overhauled just about every visual cue and graphic in the game. From the HUD, to the on-screen button cues, to the map that instantly reminded me of Mass Effect. Everything is cleaner and more polished than ever before.
The thing that probably impressed me most with the game was the stability. LEGO games, especially the early ones, were known for having major slow down and game ending bugs. LEGO TFA seemed to handle everything going on during the game like a pro. I noticed almost zero slowdown, even in the heavier battle scenes. My character didn’t get stuck in the wall or keep re-spawning over a fire or any of the random glitches that I’ve dealt with in the past. At one point, during the Battle of Takodana, the game did freeze and force restart on me. I was probably ¾ the way through the level and as I waited for the game to load back up I was ticked off because I assumed I would just start back over (per the usual). However, when I loaded back in, I was surprised to find that the game had an active save system that dropped me back in at the beginning on the section that I was on when the game froze, so I only ended up repeating about 2 or 3 minutes of gameplay. It’s just little things like this that kept surprising me. This is the most polished LEGO game to date.
On the content side, there is so much to dig into. When I completed the campaign, I was at 11 hours played and still only 24.3% done. There are still missions that I can go on with Poe and gold Bricks that I need to find and characters to unlock, and repeating each level on Free Play to find all of the Red Bricks and Mini-Kits. There is easily 20-30 hours of solid content in the game, and more if you are looking to 100% it. Not to mention the DLC that can be purchased as a Season Pass or just purchased when it’s released. We are promised, AT LEAST, 3 level packs and several character packs as well. It’s also worth mentioning that the entire game can be played in 2-Player Co-Op, which is additional value added to the already full package.
I really tried hard to find something negative to say about the game. Your Co-Op A.I. can be really dumb at times. There are over 100 characters and some of them are just no name aliens that you will probably never care to play as. The game really isn’t difficult, I rarely died or even felt challenged. The truth though, is that this game is just fantastic. I audibly laughed out loud several times at the story, I was engaged in the combat and shooting mechanic, and I just had a blast playing the game. I know that I will end up putting 50+ hours into LEGO TFA. I have been a fan of the LEGO games since LEGO Star Wars back in 2005. I buy and play every game they release, from Pirates of the Caribbean to Jurassic World. With that authority, I can say, without hesitation, that LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the single best LEGO game every made. The team at TT Games should feel proud, after 16 years of delivering excellent games, it still manages to raise the bar even higher once again. If you are a fan of the LEGO games or looking for a fun, family friendly title to try out, I cannot recommend LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens enough. Play the game, it is….your destiny.