Friday, December 15, 2017

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Xbox One) Review

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was not an entirely unexpected release (they have done the other movies before), but one that's different from the normal release.  Instead of following multiple movies, it follows one.  Because there isn't quite enough content from just that one film, there are added levels to help flesh out characters or plot points.  At least it follows the story better than the Disney Infinity set for the same movie.

Like the other Traveler's Tales LEGO games, this is a third person action adventure game.  You go through each level, fight some bad guys, solve some light puzzles, and get to the end.  The levels in The Force Awakens are pretty good at following the movies.  They also intersperse the vehicle sections into the normal levels.  The LEGO games I played usually had those as their own separate level.  There are lots of collectibles in each level, and goals to complete to unlock things.  You can't do everything the first time through the level.  Once you unlock more abilities, you can revisit the levels and get the things you couldn't before.  While this is par for the course, you now have to finish the story mode before you can do free play for a level.  While it's a good idea to do that anyway, it seems like an odd restriction.

I haven't really played many LEGO games since the first LEGO Batman, so some of these changes might not be new.  Different characters have different abilities, although now most of those have an associated mini-game to them.  Grapple pulls require mashing, which makes sense to me.  Strength requires...a timing one?  You'd think mashing would make more sense there.  Protocol droids have to match a series of symbols.  Astromech droids have to match wheels.  This one actually makes some sense, as it reminds me of Artoo's spinning robot plug.  Still, on the whole they feel unnecessary.  I don't really like to do them, nor do I want to.

Speaking of unnecessary and not fun, they also added cover-based shooting sections.  These mimic third-person cover-based shooters fairly well.  You stay in cover by default, and have to hold the left trigger to peek out so you can shoot.  They at least warn you when an enemy is targeting you, but it's still a pain to aim and shoot most troops.  Sometimes it auto-aims, which helps, but other times it won't, despite someone really close to where the cursor starts.  I get what they are going for, but it just doesn't work.  Considering the developers don't bother to fix problems with the game, I doubt these will ever get better.

Following only one movie instead of three also comes with another pit fall: length.  There's much less story to go through, making the game rather short (to be a stormtrooper).  My wife and I were able to get through the entire story in less than 10 hours.  There are the extra unlockable levels and other activities to do if you are so inclined.  Also, lots of collectibles to find and characters to buy.  Sure, a vast majority are in no way necessary, but I guess it adds to the playtime.  This release also features the biggest variety of non-characters that nobody really wants to play as, just to give more "content".

Like the other LEGO games, it isn't too hard to go through the levels.  If you die, you will just lose some studs (currency) and respawn.  The only real challenge is trying to figure out what they want you to do at times, from having to do a new mini-game, to figuring out what you have to do to move forward, to fighting with the flight controls.  Most times it didn't keep the inverted control settings for either player.

If you have enjoyed all the other Traveler's Tales' LEGO games, you should enjoy The Force Awakens.  My wife and I had enough fun to finish the story.  Still, it didn't change my opinions on these games.  Instead of fixing the problems, they just add things, most of which are unnecessary.  I don't want a mini-game for every ability, and I certainly don't want those shooting sections.  The extra levels of things not seen in the movie are a decent though, but also feel unimportant.  The fact that the game only covers one movie is another thing that hurts this release.  If you want to play it, I would recommend renting it, as you can easily beat it in that time.

The Good:
Some of the silly stuff is actually pretty funny.

The Bad:
Character ability mini-games and the shoot out sections are not necessary nor fun.

The SaHD:
Let's hope the inevitable LEGO The Last Jedi incorporates some of Rogue One to pad out its length.

(LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was rented from Redbox)

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