Reviews

LEGO Star Wars

Yes, greatest concept of all time and that. The saviour of PC ZONE - well, a slight over-egging of the pudding perhaps. But we've played the full game now. From start to finish. From The Phantom Menace to Revenge Of The Sith (and beyond). From baby Anakin to You Know Who. Luckily though, we've all calmed down a little since the rather passionate preview back in issue 153 and now feel ready to judge this thing on its merits as an actual game rather than as a fanboy's ultimate wet dream made real. And not the one about Jolene Blalock, Jennifer Garner and the shower block at a women's penitentiary, either.

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PLASTIC FANTASTIC
What you get for your money are the first three films (including the imminent Episode III finale), rendered entirely in LEGO. All the characters, all the fights, all the battles, all the action. From young Anakin flying podracers in Episode I, to the massed Jedi fighting the droid army in Episode II's arena, to... well, let's not spoil any of the Episode III action. Not every scene is there, but enough of the story gets played out to get the basic gist across. All with sufficent doses of LEGO humour to keep things moving. Mostly the game is played out on foot, with occasional flying/riding sequences being used to break the pace up. You take on the personalities of various characters, usually with an AI partner in tow, and with the option of switching between roles at will through a sort of mind-swap affair. This is a mechanic that lends itself to various puzzles and situations throughout the game, such as doors require you to momentarily inhabit the servos of R2-D2 to activate, or objects need to be manipulated with the Force by Obi-Wan. At all times you're pretty much battling through wave after wave of bad guys in a manner similar to the old Golden Axe style, either lightsabering their limbs off, blasting them to bits, or using the Force. All the while you're collecting 'studs' and exploring the meticulously crafted world for hidden extras.

Other than the brilliant sense of humour on display - the developer really playing with the whole concept of seeing beloved Star Wars characters in toy form, even to the extent of making Jar Jar Binks seem acceptable - one of the best aspects of the whole game is this concept of collectability. As you unlock levels, you're rewarded with key characters to use in Free Play mode, the part of the game that lets you revisit completed levels with different characters to find hidden bonuses.

Each level contains hidden LEGO 'bonuses', mostly building bricks for various Star Wars vehicles. As you build your collection you can examine your hard-won gains in the mid-level 'cantina' holding area.

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The other key aspect is the drop-in/drop-out nature of the two-player game. Because each level sees you playing with two or more characters, simply plugging in a second joypad (and joypads are really essential for getting the most out of the thing) and hitting P2 Start lets you play in co-op mode. It works a treat too, especially for some of the more climactic boss battles such as the one with Darth Maul at the end of Episode I.

There's absolutely no doubting that to play, LEGO Star Wars is a blast. The kind of game that slaps a big, dopey grin on your face from the moment you start, keeps it there throughout and leaves it there for a good few hours after you finish. Except that the grin actually lasts longer than the game does. Yeah, that's right, you can see what's coming as clearly as if it were wearing a great big sign above its head. A flashing sign with neon lettering, followed by an even bigger sign pointing out the first one's existence just to be sure you don't miss it. I hate having to write it. You're going to hate having to read it. But it's unavoidable, so we'd better all just grit our teeth, get through it as quickly as we can then meet on the other side for a quick debrief and a pint to console ourselves. Ready? Here goes: as much as we all absolutely love the concept at work here, as well as the execution, the sheer fact that from an actual gaming perspective there's almost little (if any) proper challenge and that you can feasibly complete the whole game - including bonuses - in less than a day simply has to count against it. Hence the lack of any shiny award logos anywhere on these three pages.

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