Title: LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens
Developer: TT Fusion
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 1.5 GB
NA Availability: Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes
Back two generations of gaming ago, the now-popular Lego series was just starting with its movie tie-ins. A game to help publicize the prequel trilogy for Star Wars was sent out, not knowing that it would start a trend that still goes on today. Batman. Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings. Marvel’s The Avengers. Ninjago. The number of franchises covered by these games goes up multiple times a year, and it all started with the iconic science fiction series created by George Lucas.
The series has been through a lot since then. 3 different Lego games along with the Battlefront reboot, The Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows, and of course, the much-anticipated launch of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the return of the original trio of actors to the big screen.
The newest Lego game to grace the gaming world is on that very movie. An oddity for a Lego game to feature only a single movie, but here is my review of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
As usual, the scenes are taken from the console release.
The plot of Lego: The Force Awakens is the same as the movie, which I won’t say too much about in case some of you haven’t watched the movie yet. Taking place decades after the events of Return of the Jedi, a group of imperials known as The First Order have filled the gap of power in the galaxy from the fall of the Galactic Empire and there is a war going on between them led by the mysterious Kylo Ren and a resistance army.
The journey of Rey, Finn, and others from the movie is told well and, since this game only covers the one movie, almost every scene from the movie is in this game. All music and voice-acting are taken from said movie to provide a very nostalgic feeling for fans of the movie.
Classic Characters in new settings never ceases to be fun
Lego TFA is a 3D action game with puzzle, combat, and many other genre elements thrown into the mix. Throughout the game, you will have gameplay for all Lego games that mimics puzzles and beat-em-up games, but also elements from rail shooters, third person shooting games, driving games, and more. With all the mini-games thrown in, there’s a lot of variety here.
So, how does this version compare to the console release? It’s the question you want to ask, and I know it. Basically, it’s a console experience but not as “complete” as the PS4 version of the game. First of all, all of the levels here are also levels in the console version and they play exactly the same between both versions. You’re not getting any watered down gameplay. Every bit of gameplay here is just as much a console experience as the levels on PS4.
There are three ways it is different. First, the extra story missions, like the Battle of Endor Prologue are set as bonus levels that are optional from one of the hub worlds. The PS4 version starts with this level, but the handheld version just sticks with the Force Awakens levels to drive. You have to actually find the launch pad for it in a hub world to go through it. It’s there, but it just isn’t shown as obvious as it is on the home console version.
Second, the levels are more simplified. The first Endor level, for example, has you fighting enemies and making platforms up to an area where an AT-ST puzzle must be solved to proceed further. In the handheld release, though, you start at the AT-ST puzzle, so bits and pieces of levels (mostly minor) were cut out of the handheld release. Third, one or two of the extra story levels were cut from the handheld release. Nothing pertaining to the main campaign, but some of the extra content is exclusive to the home console version of the game.
Each hub has a ship where you can leave to the Galaxy Map
Main progression happens in Hub Worlds. Every planet has its own open-world hub that you can explore. Here, you have directions towards opening up the next story mission, doing various side missions littered around the environments, or just spawning mini Star Wars vehicles to ride around the hub worlds for fun. You can do these in any order, but the game is always reminding you of where you need to go for the next story mission.
Story levels are normally in pairs of threes and consist of running levels that have you exploring levels in groups with fighting enemies and solving puzzles or flying levels, where you are driving a ship, fighting other ships and navigating through large areas. This is fairly balanced, never offering too many of the same type of mission so you don’t keep wondering how long it will be before you get another space battle to play through.
Most of this is the same song and dance as previous games, but one thing I’ll say is that they’ve really made things refreshing by adding new gameplay systems aside from just character-specific skills. Building Lego objects now has multiple objects from the same pile of Legos. You might have to build a pipe for electricity with your Lego set, have to break it, and use the same pieces to build a level to turn on a door. This also adds a more of a puzzle presence to the game.
The most thrilling new feature, however, are blaster battles. During these, you go under cover and go up and down while shooting at enemies also hiding behind cover. This gives a very clear Third-Person Shooter feel, and is one thing that really sets this apart from not only the other Lego Star Wars games but previous Lego games in general. It’s refreshing and new. It was always exciting when I would be rushing through a level and suddenly I would be thrown into a TPS sequence against endless Stormtroopers and dropships.
These shooting sequences aren’t hard, but they’re quite refreshing
There will be a lot of doing this, but replay value is there as well. All of those side quests I told you about in the hub worlds offer a variety of different types of gameplay and are crucial to unlocking characters and scenarios. Getting challenges done in story mission will unlock the extra story chapters while doing side-quests nets you Carbonite Bricks, which can then be unfrozen to unlock classic Star Wars characters, like the Tie Fighter pilot or Anakin Skywalker from The Phantom Menace. This feature really keeps me playing. I finish the story and get into that “I need to get a review out to my viewers ASAP” mode, but the Star Wars fans in me just wants to keep getting classic characters to play as.
On the topic of characters, there is something I want to nitpick here. You unlock story-based characters after every mission, and you can go in free mode to play as any unlocked character. As nice as it is to see characters constantly unlocking, a lot of characters are very redundant. I get unlocking a couple versions of the same character from different movie points, but do we really need 6+ versions of Finn? Or more than 6 versions of Rey? They are all different in graphical details, but it seems redundant and is taking up space for a bigger variety of different characters rather than half a dozen reskins for the same character where only one or two actually offers different weapons/gameplay.
Speaking of the replay value, let’s talk about how long the game is. The main story campaign has about 30 levels or so, each which average around 10 minutes. Throwing in the extra story missions you can unlock as well, which will add a good 10-15 more levels, the whole game should take you a good 6-8 hours to finish. Not super short, but not super long. It’s long enough for me to be okay with the length, even with the few cut levels.
Controls are very versatile in the game. As with all PS Vita Lego games, you can do everything with buttons or everything with touch. The nice thing here is that puzzles that would normally require the touch screen and inoperable on the PSTV without makeshift touch controls, have button options as well. This makes the game much more friendly to PSTV users.
We have typical controls here. Analog Stick/D-Pad to move and Right Analog to move the camera. L and R can switch non-active party members while Triangle can toggle between controlling the active party members. X is used for jumping and double-jumping. Square is used for attacking with your main weapon and Circle for your sub-weapon (for those characters that can use two weapons at once).
The controls are easy to use and, as always, TT Games explains it very well.
You just can’t have a Star Wars game without epic space battles
Visually, I can’t complain. While we don’t have the perfect renders of PS4 Lego games, Lego TFA looks very pretty and in-depth on the PS Vita and PSTV both. All of the models look great and you wouldn’t be able to tell it was a handheld release with watching it being played on the PSTV.
There is only one issue I have with the presentation, and that is with glitching. During one of the boss fights, the game glitched and put me in an endless loop while trying to transition between two different stages of the boss. When this happened, it locked the controls, forcing me to replay the entire stage up to the boss again to progress forward. This happened with a couple different bosses, so it’s worth noting.
The rest of the performance is nice. 2-3 second load times, pretty much no frame drops, and perfect audio brought in from the movie.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens feels like a step forward and backwards at the same time. While the game did add a lot of refreshing new elements to the series, the levels cut from the handheld version, the boss glitches, and the redundancy of constant character reskins feels like it could’ve had just a little more thought and effort put into it.