Fun and familiar: two words you could easily use to describe Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Despite its critical and commercial success at the box office last year, it certainly wasn’t without its detractors – those crying fowl at how the new characters, locations and story beats felt too much like a retread to things we’ve already seen before from the franchise. Those people were wrong, obviously – because the film was amazing – but the same criticism can be applied to its videogame adaptation, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Developer Traveller’s Tales offers very little here in Lego Star Wars: TFA that we haven’t already seen before, enjoyed immensely and exhaustively content completed time and time again over the decade. The basic structure continues to work well for the series – as does TT Games’ trademark goofy humour – but it’s starting to feel a little well worn. But just because the game has little to offer in terms of surprises doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, that impossible to gauge metric by which we judge all of our entertainment on. In spite of its familiarity, it is a charming, constantly entertaining and family friendly game that shouldn’t be missed by any Star Wars fan.
Following the plot of the movie closely (not to mention a little prequel section taking you back to the Endor battle from Return Of The Jedi), Lego Star Wars: TFA lets you tackle some of the most memorable sections from the new film, albeit in adorable Lego form. You’ll be able to stalk through the desert wastes of Jakku, tear through the ground and skies of Starkiller Base and, of course, explore the forests of Takodana. This is a game that’s slavishly dedicated to fan service, constantly giving you collectables to hunt, wider universe characters to play as and poking fun at the lore and story at every opportunity it gets – it’s legitimately laugh-out-loud funny at times, and that can’t often be said about modern videogames.
For every time you may roll your eyes at yet another grate only small characters can crawl through or those times you’ll need a specific character to climb a ledge, it’ll find something that’ll have you smiling from ear to ear. As you stumble into Kylo Ren’s poster-covered teenage bedroom – a shine to everything Darth Vadar – or notice Rey’s ‘BB on Board’ sticker adorning the side of her land-speeder, Traveller’s Tales always finds a way to distract you from the sometimes monotonous task of smashing things down and building them back up again.
Admittedly there are a few new additions to the core and expected gameplay, but they don’t always work as intended. Boss fights have a habit of turning into tedious non-specific quick-time events, while the introduction of cover based shooting mechanics are a nice idea, they can sometimes spoil the pacing of an otherwise amazing level. But when you’re playing with another person – instead of letting the accursed AI assist you – they become less of an annoyance and more of a small speed bump before you can get onto your next adventure.
Perhaps that’s the key here, Lego Star Wars: TFA always feels like you’re taking part in a huge adventure. It’s a beautiful looking game, well polished and perfect if you want something to play with your kids. But if you’ve played a Lego game at any point in the last three years, just don’t expect it to offer anything substantial that you haven’t seen and enjoyed before. Then again, if you love Star Wars why are you still reading? Go get it already; you usually have to beg for this level of fan service from creators.