LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review — The Force is Strong With This One
More than any film in recent memory, Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived in theaters last December as truly the type of cinematic event that comes along once in a generation. As highly-anticipated as it was (especially in having to redeem the films from the lukewarm response to the prequel trilogy), The Force Awakens more than met expectations with critical acclaim and a box office gross of over $2 billion.
Of course, that type of success warrants the release of a new LEGO video game adaptation, with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming six months after the film debuted in theaters, but not at all lacking in the heart and energy that made the film such a massive success with Star Wars fans both new and old.
As the latest in the long-running series of LEGO games, Star Wars is not new ground with the franchise having previously covered both the original and prequel trilogies (along with The Complete Saga combining them both). That makes The Force Awakens a new prospect for fans of the LEGO Star Wars series to cover only one film at a full retail price.
While light in its campaign (which can be completed by most in about 7-8 hours), The Force Awakens doesn’t skimp on giving players plenty to do. The game’s campaign is also bolstered by plenty of new additions, modes, and a roster that’s 200 characters deep and filled by everyone from Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren, all the way down to Maz Kanata, General Hux, and even to the perennial trap-finder, Admiral Akbar and plenty more.
Those that have seen the film (which, at this point, seems like it’s impossible not to have seen it) will easily know what to expect as the game breaks down key moments from throughout the film, whether it’s the memorable launch of the Millennium Falcon or the climactic showdown in the snow between Kylo Ren and Rey. However, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens also throws a few wrinkles into the fold with its opening moments that bridge the gap between the conclusion of Return of the Jedi and the most recent film, with Lucasfilm having given the studio some creative liberty to help fill in the gaps between the original trilogy and the start of the latest chapter.
By and large, these additions are rooted in the beginning of the game (with appearances by Return of the Jedi-era Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and more) that do make an attempt to help fill in some story gaps between the two trilogies. The game also adds a few other segments into the campaign that serve a similar role, such as Poe going on a rescue mission to save Admiral Ackbar, but ultimately these segments can (at points) feel more like filler to pad out the experience a bit more, aside from just having to utilize what the story of The Force Awakens has to offer.
Of course, the game’s retelling of events from the prior films is boosted strongly throughout by its charm and humor, with The Force Awakens in particular giving players plenty of winks, nods, and good hearty laughs. As much as the LEGO games are aimed at kids, there really are few games that truly can please all ages the way that LEGO games can. In that sense, The Force Awakens offering plenty of clever gags and bits to make it an enjoyable, fun romp for everyone. In particular, I found plenty of hilarious jokes at the expense of Kylo Ren, who (justifiably) gets plenty of digs at his excessively moody ways.
The basic formula of LEGO games — building, jumping, and light puzzle-solving — remains untouched here for the large part in The Force Awakens. However, the game also throws in a few unexpected touches for veteran LEGO fans, with the inclusion of some new mechanics like “Blaster Battles,” which essentially offers players some cover-based third-person shooter gameplay. Thinking of it like “Gears of War Lite” will put you on the right track (except with more LEGOs and way less blood and dismemberment).
Space combat also plays into adding some diversity to LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens with plenty of opportunities to pilot ships from the film, be it the iconic Millennium Falcon to everything else in-between. While it’s not a particularly new addition to LEGO Star Wars, The Force Awakens does deviate from the pack a bit by adding some open-area flying and shooting (apart from regular on-reals section), making for some incredibly fun sections that just make me wish for developer TT Games to double-down on a new Rogue Squadron game (one can only wish)!
In hindsight it may not sound like a compliment, but LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens shines as one of the best-looking entries yet from the LEGO series, with its blend of colorful, cartoonish character models juxtaposed (more so than usual) against more refined environments and textures. From the battle between Rey and Kylo Ren in the snowy forest and beyond, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings some nice doses of visual flourish to the series and does a great job at recreating many of the film’s best moments (with the excellent John Williams score behind it as well).
As an added bonus, The Force Awakens also brings together many of the film’s cast to reprise their roles for the game, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, and even down to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher as Han Solo and Leia. It surely couldn’t have been a cheap endeavor to bring together most of the film’s original cast, but it adds a bit to the experience and fun of reliving the moments of The Force Awakens (while poking some fan at it along the way).
Though the LEGO formula is well-trodden at this point — the series has given us everything from Batman to Jurassic World and more — LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens more than ever carries the series’ tradition of providing light-hearted, family friendly entertainment that truly can be enjoyed by anyone. It won’t quite take you to a new galaxy or somewhere far, far away from what you might have expected from the previous games, and its difficulty is still tied to what you would expect for a game aimed at a younger audience.
However, like the film did last holiday season, few series can capture that imagination as that of Star Wars, and its LEGO rendition offers that and more with plenty to enjoy from its charming take on the latest film. Like the endless possibilities that its toys have offered, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens captures the heart and humor of Star Wars in a world where we can build Rey’s story to (almost our own liking), and shows the Force is indeed still strong with the series.