Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
LucasArts LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Keep your inner child happy
- Sense of lighthearted humour, replayability, fun!
- Camera can be a pain in the neck, too easy to accidentally smack around your allies
No matter what your age, LEGO Star Wars II will keep your thumbs moving, your mouth smiling, and your inner child happy.
Price$ 49.95 (AUD)
Star Wars has been licensed to death in the gaming world, with just about every nook and cranny mined dry of any mystery it might've once possessed. How surprising, then, was it that LEGO Star Wars, ostensibly developed with a younger audience in mind, managed to breathe fresh air into an aging epic laden with archetypes and high drama?
Return of the Jedi
The first Lego Star Wars game was a breakout hit that proved entertaining for all ages, and its sequel continues the Star Wars saga in chronological order by revisiting the original tree episodes. Rather than concern itself terribly with great ambitions of unnecessary innovation or reinvention, LEGO Star Wars II instead focuses on expanding on the original's basics, and after a few hours of play, the first game seems like merely a warm-up for this more elaborately constructed experience.
The environments, which run the gamut from the moisture farms of Tattooine to the frozen wastes of Hoth, are filled with secrets and interactive diversions. In an early level you can extract water from a dangerous marsh with a droid. Destroy the filled container with a blaster, and flowers sprout on the arid surface. Tug at these plants with the Force, and they'll explode in a shower of "studs," currency with which you may buy hints, defeated enemy characters, and more. There are extensive details everywhere, and you never know what you'll find if you just explore and experiment.
The controls and Cantina level selection are very familiar, but every puzzle, encounter, and character feels deeper and more fleshed-out even if the in-engine cinematics often feel abruptly truncated. In the original, only those who wielded the Force could build things, but now any non-droid can put together predetermined items with the bits and pieces left lying around. You can even marshal vehicles like landspeeders and speeder bikes, or mount and ride banthas and tauntauns. The puzzles are much more intricate and interesting than in the original, and they carefully walk the line between challenging and frustrating wonderfully.
The Construction Continues...
Different characters have different attacks and abilities, and you'll find yourself gladly playing through every single level again and again as you search for hidden areas with a little guy that can explore ventilation ducts, or hunting down black LEGOs that only dark-siders can manipulate. There's even an odd little experimentation area where you can create your own bizarre LEGO characters out of the pieces of others. Think "Darth Leia" and you'll get the idea.
Falling to Pieces
That's not all you've got waiting for you, but as before the most enchanting aspect of this LEGO universe is the charming sense of lighthearted humour that's slathered onto everything. Characters don't just die, they explode bloodlessly into their component parts, and the injection of genuinely funny slap-stick silliness into classic and deadly serious Star Wars scenes means that these recreations are anything but dry recaps. The camera can still be a pain in the neck, as you have almost no control over its movement, and it's a bit too easy to accidentally smack around your allies, but these issues are about the only irritants you'll run into.
Even so, one could accuse the whole game of being just more of the same, but to eschew it for that reason would be like turning down a second piece of chocolate cake because it has more frosting. Few enough sequels manage to keep their heads above water, let alone improve upon the original, but these angular little heroes manage it with ease.
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