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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, WiiU, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: TT Games
Release Date: June 28, 2016

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Xbox One Review - 'LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

by Adam Pavlacka on July 20, 2016 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

LEGO Star Wars triumphantly returns with a fun-filled, humorous journey based on the blockbuster Star Wars film. Play as Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, Kylo Ren, Han Solo, and the rest of your favorite characters from the movie!

Buy LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Recent LEGO releases have been serviceable but uninspiring, with LEGO Jurassic World and LEGO Marvel's Avengers both feeling like they were just "going through the motions." That was great for fans of the series, but it wasn't drawing in new players. Perhaps the team at TT got inspired by "The Force Awakens," or perhaps Lucasfilm is a bit more hands-on than other licensors, but either way, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a return to form in a big way.

What makes LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens stand out from the pack is the focus on fun. The main story is spread out across 12 levels (a prologue level, 10 "core" levels and a short epilogue level) that tell the story of the battle of Endor (sorry, old-school Star Wars fans, the ending here is based on the "new and improved" editions rather than the original release of "Return of the Jedi") and the latest film. Nothing here feels like busy work. Level design is superbly done, with a balanced mix of puzzles and exploration.


The puzzles aren't terribly difficult, but they also aren't quite as transparent as those in the last two LEGO games. You have to think a bit at times, which is refreshing. If you're stumped, just go on a rampage, break a bunch of bricks, and an opportunity of some sort is bound to open up. Experimenting with different characters also helps, which is an improvement over LEGO Marvel's Avengers, where you really only needed a handful of core characters to complete the game. Here, you have to switch off from time to time.

The prologue level worked extremely well as an introduction, with the way it reintroduces old favorites, both on the character side as well as on the vehicle side. LEGO humor is also present in abundance, with one of the Endor objectives being achieved only after you put "Episode IV" on display (complete with Galactic Empire-style subtitles) to distract the opposing forces.

In addition to the main campaign, there are six additional levels that unlock as you collect the requisite number of gold bricks. The bonus levels reveal some of the character backstory that wasn't shown in the film. For example, how exactly did Han and Chewie capture those rathtars? They may not be explicitly canon, but it is a smart way to expand on Star Wars lore.

New to the franchise are the multi-build kits, which can be assembled, destroyed and then re-assembled. Some of these only need to be used once, while others require multiple uses to progress. They bring an additional level of interaction to the game without slowing things down.


Third-person cover shooting is also a thing now, with the resistance heroes shooting it out with Stormtroopers on more than one occasion. Because this is a game targeted to kids, the shooting aspects are balanced generously in the player's favor, making it relatively easy to come out of those segments unscathed. Then again, given the notoriously bad aim of Stormtroopers in the Star Wars universe, the shooting segments could be considered true to the world. What stands out about these sections is that they aren't just shooting. Although that is the main focus, different gameplay elements are integrated to keep you engaged.

While the Stormtroopers may not have the best aim, the computer AI seems to have improved relative to previous games. Your computer controller partner (when playing solo) behaves more naturally, and opposing forces will do things like build their own LEGO contraptions. Some of this may be done via scripts and trigger points, but ultimately, the illusion is one of smarter opponents, and that's what matters.

Visually, the game looks really good when running on the Xbox One. Screen-tearing is rarely seen, and the frame rate stays smooth and fluid. Background details add to the world, with a draw distance that means pop-in is not a noticeable issue. If you look for it, you can find the occasional misaligned polygon, but the typical player isn't going to notice.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens may also be one of the most bug-free LEGO games. For better or worse, the LEGO games have been known for their quirks, but I didn't run into any game-breaking glitches while playing through the campaign. There was one moment near the very end of the game, where one character started spinning in circles and I couldn't swap away, but that was remedied by plugging in a second controller and finishing the level.


Outside of the story levels, the game offers four hub worlds to explore, plus the Millennium Falcon. The Falcon includes a playable Dejarik Battle game, which is an amusing survival game that offers a handful of enemy waves as an easy way to collect studs. The four hub worlds have various gold bricks hidden throughout, many of which require you to complete mini-missions. These sort of "collect the thing" missions aren't new to the LEGO games, but one small tweak here optimizes the flow. Once a mission is completed, you automatically warp back to the quest giver. There is no need to hike all the way back on foot.

On the sound front, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens excels, making good use of both classic Star Wars themes (disco Star Wars is here!) as well as original lines recorded by cast members. Audio from the film is also used, but the mixing job is a noticeable step up from what we heard in LEGO Jurassic World and LEGO Marvel's Avengers. It's not entirely seamless, but the sudden drops in dialogue quality that plagued those games aren't present here.

If I could improve one thing about LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it would be the vehicle handling. This has been a rough spot on the LEGO games for years, and while it has gotten better, it's not nearly as polished as it could be. Considering that you take control of both the Millennium Falcon and Poe's X-Wing, having spot-on flight controls should be a necessity.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens probably would have sold well enough on the license alone, but TT Games wasn't content to coast on this one. The company put its best foot forward, and players are the ones to benefit. I haven't had this much fun with a LEGO video game since LEGO The Hobbit. Even if you weren't completely impressed by some of the recent LEGO titles, give this one a go. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is well worth your time.

Score: 8.5/10



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