Over the year’s we’ve reviewed a lot of LEGO games, a lot. In those reviews we usually say ‘its good, but its just another LEGO game’ and this kind of applies here with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Kind of, because for how much of this game is the same as other LEGO games, there’s still a ton of new ideas that can be worked on.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens as you would expect follows the plot of the movie closely, naturally with a ton of ‘LEGO’ genuinely funny humour thrown in. They could have just rested on that and it would have been enough but TT Games went a step further and have included and added canon content to the game. There’s bits that weren’t in the movie and it serves to fill in the official story – that’s pretty great!
Oddly, the first level of the game is actually the Battle of Endor from Episode VI, which while feeling annoying, serves as the prologue to the main game. You’re run through the main new gameplay mechanics during this time, so they introduced something new with something old. Still wanted to jump head into The Force Awakens but I can see why it was done.
So for the most part, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens follows the traditional ‘LEGO’ formula. There’s studs to collect, enemies to bash up, red bricks to hunt and more. However credit to TT for trying out some new ideas in this one to mix things up. First up, Multi Builds allow you to chose between two different solutions to build, these are the piles of bricks on the ground where you hold A – but you can choose between two now. It’s more than just aesthetics too, the multi builds allow for more complex puzzles or multiple routes through the game. It’s not used too much and is never entirely complicated but it’s good to see more thought put into the puzzles. These multi builds also hold a lot of the games’ secrets, you’ll need to sometimes explore both builds to find everything.
The other new big mechanic change is the addition of a ‘cover shooter’ section. At certain points in the game you’ll go into a ‘shooting gallery’ style section and have to take out things from behind cover. It’s a welcome break from the standard isometric presentation and allows some of the great environments and scale of the Star Wars world to shine. It wouldn’t be Star Wars either without some space battles, you can try out the new First Order Tie Fighter, the updated X-Wings and of course the Millennium Falcon. The dog fighting is rarely simple but also works well in the games split screen mode.
Speaking of the split screen, the games of course features drop and drop-out multiplayer for a friend. This has been a staple of the LEGO series and it’s great to see it here once again. There’s just one problem, the dynamic and ever changing split that ‘rotates’ around the screen depending on where you characters are make it near impossible to play. Changing the split screen to be forced wide or tall was much better. There was also no indication of where you friend was on screen, sure you can see them but an arrow point to where they are or a marker on the edge of the screen would have been nice.
There’s some problems however with the game in the graphics and audio department. While the game is pretty to look at for the most part, the poor Wii U just can’t keep up with some of the more advanced things happening on screen. The game will frequently drop framerate and it makes it hard to hit your marks at time. Having a slower framerate can be fine sometimes, but when it starts to affect how the game reacts to you – then we’re in trouble. There’s also graphical glitches and pop-in during cutscenes which are a problem, it just seems a little rushed parts.
The game also suffers from questionable audio problems. While the games soundtrack and score, like the movies, is great the rest of the games sounds pose some problems. The game is fully voiced by the movies stars, which is good – but it seems like some of the clips have been pulled from the movie and not recorded or isolated from the movie. So some of the audio from the stars is nice and clear but then some is ripped from the movie and hard to understand. There’s subtitles thankfully but I shouldn’t have to turn them on just to hear the majority of the audio.
It’s obvious the Wii U port of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a little underdone, it’s the systems punishment for selling so poorly. The game is also missing out on the DLC that the other versions of the game will get. If you have multiple consoles, even with nice GamePad split screen options it’s probably not enough to recommend this version of those – we’ve seen them running and they work fine.