Although the Story mode in Lego Star Wars II is longer than it's predecessor, clocking in at around 10 hours or so, it's still not exactly epic in length. Luckily, said Story mode only accounts for roughly 40% of the game and there's still a Star Destroyer's worth of fun to be had from it.
In order to fully complete the game, for instance, you'll need to find the 10 mini-kit pieces from each level, all of the hidden gold and red bricks, unlock all 100 characters, get a Jedi ranking on every level (achieved by collecting a certain amount of studs), and complete the nine bonus levels (not forgetting the additional super-secret level). A lot of care has been put into these objectives to actually make them worth completing. In the first game, completed mini-kits could only be admired in the hub level. Now you can actually fl y them around the bonus levels too. In order to actually get all the mini-kits, you'll have to play through completed levels in free play mode, which allows you to take any character into the level, enabling you to unlock previously hidden areas. Some of these areas are huge and they're full of great gags; we especially enjoyed finding the secret console that opened the airlocks on the Blockade Runner, laughing like maniacs as Stormtroopers in Y-fronts were sucked into space.
All this collecting may sound tiresome, but it's actually great fun, especially with a friend. The Co-op mode from the first game has been carried over and the camera has been dramatically improved. Before, you'd often get pulled along by the other player, but now the camera zooms out a bit to give you more freedom to work as a team - although this teamwork aspect usually descends into bellowing swear words at each other across the room. And as you have infinite lives in all modes of the game, you never need to worry about "accidentally" taking off your Padawan Learner's idiot head with an ill-timed swish of your lightsaber.
For everything that it gets right, Lego StarWars II does have a Dark Side. It's certainly a good thing that the puzzles have been ramped up in difficulty and intricacy for this sequel, but sometimes their solutions can be a little too obtuse and you can end up pointlessly backtracking through the levels in case you missed something or fruitlessly attempting to solve puzzles that can only be completed in Free Play mode. Also, while the Story modes for Episodes IV and V are a pleasure to play through, the sprawling Return Of The Jedi levels lack a certain magic (like the film that inspired them). The speeder bike level in particular feels fl at and repetitive. Nonetheless, Lego Star
Wars II is still the Gold Leader for Star Wars games on PS2 - plenty of challenge, every major set piece (plus a few new ones) from Episodes IV,V, and VI, vehicles to try out, harder puzzles, almost endless replayability (it'll take a very long time to unlock everything), an improved co-op mode and, perhaps most importantly, it's full of good old-fashioned fun. Sure the storm-troopers may be a little short and it might not look like much, but it's got it where it counts, kid. Now let's blow this thing and go home.
A force to be reckoned with, Lego Star Wars 2 is cute, funny, and hardcore, just like us.