One of last year’s biggest sleeper hits came in the form of two great things that certainly worked well together; LEGOs and Star Wars. Whether it was the simple pick up and play mechanics or the idea of squeezing an entire trilogy into such a small package, complete with hilarious cut-scenes, there is no question that this game was loved by just about anyone who played it. So how do you follow-up such a fun and unique idea? Well for starters you bring back all the things that made the original great, fix any problems, oh and of course base it on the original trilogy just so we can play through the game as Slave Leia. Traveller’s Tales has stumbled onto something special here and this sequel is certainly a worthy follow-up to last year’s biggest surprise.
The core game itself is setup just like the original. This time around Mos Eisley Cantina will serve as your hub where you can choose missions, discover secrets, and even drop by the bar to purchase unlockables such as extra characters. The game covers the original Star Wars trilogy and is broken up into three chapters respectively. Each chapter is broken down into several missions that attempt to convey the entire story without all the cheesy dialogue. In fact just like the first entry in the series you will never hear a word of spoken dialogue and still be able to follow what is going on, and that is certainly no small feat for any developer.
When was the last time you took me out for a nice dinner?!?
Of course being a fan of the trilogy doesn’t hurt, in fact avid fans will certainly get a kick out of some of the inside jokes that developer Traveller’s Tales has thrown into the mix. For starters they seemed to have stuck to the original theatrical releases and not the special editions so expect to see Han shoot first and of course end out the game with the infamous Ewok song on Endor.
For anyone who didn’t get a chance to play the original game don’t fret, it is certainly not required to enjoy the sequel. The premise of LEGO Star Wars is basically a simplified action title with minimal puzzles and lots of platform jumping. The player can control several characters per level in story mode all by switching in between heroes at the push of a button. You can also re-visit any level you have already completed with any of the characters you have unlocked during your previous progress.
This opens up a whole new world of replayability as each level has designated areas that are only accessible by certain characters such as bounty hunter missions, Stormtrooper encrypted areas, and of course places that only a Jedi can reach. There are also a ton of hidden items and things to collect that will require more than one play through of each level just to find everything. You can also unlock the ability to swap character pieces with one another creating some unlikely concoctions such as Darth Vader wearing Princess Leia’s slave outfit and so much more. It is like having a virtual set of Star Wars LEGOs directly at your fingertips.
While the main game can easily be finished within 3-4 hours the extras can keep you playing for well over twenty hours, not to mention the co-op. Speaking of multi-player this is one of my biggest complaints about LEGO Star Wars II. While you can easily drop in and out of two-player mode at any given time there is absolutely no online play. This is a huge blow as this game could certainly benefit from it. Sure playing on one console is fine and dandy, but the option to take it online via Xbox Live or any other online service would have made the already sweet package even better. This is even more stressed with the fact that playing solo can sometimes frustrate you because of the dumb-as-rocks AI in the game. I literally have watched my AI partner block every single attack the enemy throws without ever even attempting to take them out of the equation. Thankfully they do serve a purpose as every level has certain characters that you have to take on your journey to progress through the level, but online play would have made this much less of a chore seeing as how you could play with a real person anytime you desired.
Sometimes it is not wise to let the Wookie win.
This time around Traveller’s Tales has also placed a greater emphasis on vehicles with many fan favorites such as the Landspeeder and Dewback making appearances. There are even levels designed solely around using these new modes of transportation including the Death Star Run and the Speeder Bike chase on Endor. And yes as always there is a Hoth level complete with Snowspeeder toe cables and AT-ATs to take out, who didn’t see that one coming?
The visuals in LEGO Star Wars II are definitely not going to set your HDTV on fire, but for what it is the game does a great job of conveying the atmosphere. Being released on just fewer than ten consoles and every single one of them being almost identical is a sign that visuals were certainly not the priority of this endeavor. Character animation has been beefed up and the Xbox 360 version sports some gorgeous reflections and of course that 720p shine, but in general every version looks almost identical including the PSP outing, minus of course the atrocious load times. All your favorite tunes from composer John Williams are present and the sound effects are directly lifted from the Lucas archives, but as I mentioned earlier you will not hear one word of spoken dialogue unless the subtle howling of a Wookie counts.
While this recycles most of what made the original so much fun it still deserves credit for adding onto an already solid formula. If you enjoyed the first game and aren’t expecting a revolution in gaming you will find more than enough to keep you busy with this extremely solid sequel. Fans of Star Wars in general need to play this game and anyone looking for a break from all the shooters, racers, and RPGs flooding the market today owe it to themselves to check out this simple, yet highly addictive little action title.