The games industry is littered with labours of love that paid homage to films – our personal favourites being Rockstar Games’ take on The Warriors (from 2005), William Latham’s remake of The Thing (2002) and Rebellion’s Aliens Vs Predator (2010). Meanwhile, we’re used to Lego games appearing regularly, more often than not feeding off the latest blockbusting family film. But Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the first Lego game that comes across as a full-blown homage to the film. As a result, it may just be the best Lego game yet.
Normally, a Lego game based on a movie offers up very lightly skimmed highlights as its storyline – essentially, the film’s most memorable scenes, stitched together in not-so-splendid but very disjointed isolation. But Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens pretty much recreates the entire film, scene by scene – albeit warped through that familiar Lego-game lens which adds countless gags and a dollop of cuteness. So, for once you get a sense of narrative flow, and the feeling that you’re reliving the entire film instantly elevates The Force Awakens above its predecessors.
More unexpectedly, developer TT Games has revamped its familiar (over-familiar, many would contend) gameplay blueprint for The Force Awakens. Admittedly, Lego-game staples such as one-button meleeing, pushing objects off hard-to-access places and building objects in order to solve puzzles still loom large, but even the basic building mechanism has been tweaked so that now, by pointing the left stick, in different directions, you can build piles of bricks into different objects. That adds an extra (very welcome) layer of complexity to the game’s puzzle-solving.
It’s also the first Lego game to introduce cover-shooting sequences, albeit with incredibly forgiving levels of snap. And best of all, there are countless opportunities to fly X-Wings and Tie Fighters, as well as to pilot AT-STs and the like. Similarly to Star Fox, there are two types of flying-and-shooting sequences when you’re at the controls of an X-Wing – on-rails raids, and free-roaming ones in confined arenas.
Because The Force Awakens recreates nearly the whole of the film, it’s longer than many past Lego games, and there are plenty of bonuses: a prologue sees you re-enacting the Battle of Endor from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Collecting gold bricks opens up whole new planets after you’ve finished the story and, as ever, there are vast amounts of collectables to find.
In recent times, we were starting to worry that the whole Lego game thing was feeling past its best – a worrying air of predictability had set in. But The Force Awakens – which was clearly a labour of love on the part of TT Games – refreshes the franchise in a most welcome manner. Which is good, because any game-playing parent knows that the Lego games are just about the only ones they can play with their offspring (as ever, The Force Awakens supports two—player co-operative play) and actually enjoy. Whether or not you’re a fan of the film (come off it – who isn’t?), Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers the perfect opportunity for parent-child bonding – and you’ll probably want to carry on playing it when they have gone to bed.