LEGO Star Wars: Skywalker Saga releases tomorrow and as regular readers will know, I love a good LEGO game! This game is the first on the new engine, and in addition to the obvious graphic improvement, this is where the LEGO games grew up!
Back in 2005, the world was first introduced to the concept of a LEGO video game, and this first game was LEGO Star Wars. 17 years and five more LEGO Star Wars games later, here we are with this new version, pitched as the most comprehensive LEGO Star Wars game ever.
People who know LEGO video games will find this shot of the original LEGO Star Wars game with the hearts and studs very familiar. The fact that the team at Travellers Tales had been able to wring 17 years of game development out of the same engine is remarkable, but players of more recent LEGO games would agree that the limitations of this old engine had long been reached.
The scope of the game has also been incredibly expanded. From what started as very linear platformers with six levels making up the story of each episode. We’ve now reached a point where the whole galaxy is an open-world sandbox, encouraging you to fly around and do what you do best: smash bricks!
Given this enormous scope, with dozens of planets, each with several hubs to explore, it’s tricky to do a full review when we were given a weekend to explore the game. So instead, I’m presenting my pros and cons from the game.
Graphics – OK let’s start with the obvious: the graphics are stunning. At times, the graphics rival some of the top-tier games out in the world. It really looks like people have placed these LEGO toys out in the real world. In close-up shots, you can not only see the textured plastics, but they’ve also included the mould seams where the plastic would have been manufactured!
New interface – I’ve already mentioned it, but this new interface is glorious! LEGO games have always been a bit sparse and frustrating when trying to navigate and change options. This new interface is better organised and much easier to navigate, all while still staying very familiar.
Easier to navigate missions – LEGO games have always been more about the side missions and free play than the main story itself, but trying to navigate these side missions and remember where they are had always gotten trickier as the games expanded. This new game provides players with a much easier-to-use mission menu which lets you turn tracking on and off for each mission. When it comes to the main story, from the beginning of the game you’re able to jump into the first episode of each trilogy and begin your adventure. So there’s no waiting around for the good stories – you can even skip the bland prequels!
Skill tree – there have always been ways to upgrade your characters and improve your game, but this is the first LEGO game to feature a skill tree where you spend your Khyber Bricks to upgrade your core skills or specific skills for certain character sets.
Character organising – successive LEGO games have always claimed to have the most characters in a game, however with the old way of seeing these characters on screen at once with a honeycomb structure of small circles, this became harder and harder to navigate. This game’s new interface changes the old for a more practical list, organised by character groups like Jedi, Heroes, Villains, etc.
Force movements – previous LEGO games that featured force movements in Star Wars, or indeed other games that featured some form of telekinesis like the comic book superhero games, have always struggled with these movements. Regularly you are tasked with lifting an object to place precisely in a certain spot, and regularly you become increasingly frustrating as you wave it around in the air, rubbing it up and down surfaces until it finally falls into place. In this new game, they’ve finally cracked the code and enabled the use of both joysticks to allow for a more precise movement.
Grunts are back! – in more recent times, LEGO games have frequently used a voice cast, usually tied to the IP in use, however they used to be famous for their grunts and gestures to communicate. This made them extra funny and hilarious as they gesture their way through conversations in lieu of talking. Well… buried away in the menus of this new game, there’s an option allowing you to turn on the grunts! This replaces all the dialogue with the old-fashioned grunts for max nostalgia!
B-Team Voice Actors – OK, this is possibly a bit harsh, and likely understandable at times as some of the original acting cast have now sadly passed away, but the game uses a lot of voice actors from the animated series rather than original actors like Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. Yes, there are a lot of challenges assembling this mega cast once again, but in comparison to recent LEGO games (like the recent DC Villains which pulled together a mega cast), this does feel a step backward.
Summary of films – as previously mentioned, the point of a LEGO game is less about playing the story, but more about exploring the side missions and all of the open-world exploring. However, if you’re hoping to play this game as a way of reliving the films, you’ll be disappointed. The story levels are sometimes guilty of reinterpreting and simplifying the plot to be able to whip through the story.
Flying – LEGO games have never been brilliant at flying mechanics, and here we are again with an overly twitchy flying experience that sees too much emphasis being put on the shooting, and not on the flying. Yes, this might be user error and I’ve never been brilliant at flying games, but it’s still quite frustrating and regularly I end up smashing into things!
LEGO games have always been an enjoyable romp with an amazing amount of humour involved, but they’ve always felt a little basic when it comes to the interface, AI, and engine. Now, with the introduction of a more in-depth interface, more nuanced interactions, and mechanics like skill trees that are a staple in other games, LEGO Star Wars: Skywalker Saga has truly grown up to match its other LEGO siblings!
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, is set to launch on April 5th, 2022 for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One consoles, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.