Lego returns to its gaming roots with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a predictable and predictably fun romp that sends mini-figures of Finn, Ray, Kylo, BB-8 and the rest of the new trilogy stars back to a brick-built galaxy far, far away.
The current Lego empire is one of the world's biggest brands, but it was nearing bankruptcy just two decades ago. The resurgence began with their first collaboration with the Star Wars brand, having begun their now-ubiquitous licensed Lego sets in the late '90s with one themed to the Phantom Menace.
In 2005, they brought that business model to videogames with Traveller's Tales' first Lego Star Wars game based on the prequels and then, more gratifyingly, on the original trilogy. From there, TT's Lego videogames have adapted everything from Lord of the Rings to Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park as well as delving into their own original stories for DC and Marvel superheroes, and their expansive toys-to-life game, Lego Dimensions. It was only a matter of time before The Force Awakens got the brick treatment, too.
Lego's lightly spoofed adaptations don't usually offer much new — we already know the story, and are well versed in the series' signature puzzle and platforming gameplay. But this time out, they did add a few twists.
Narratively speaking, you play through the plot's standout set-pieces — sliding down the sand on Jakku, defending Maz's castle, sneaking around Starkiller base — but the game also fills in a few story blanks. Unlockable levels explain how C-3PO got his red arm, how Han and Chewie captured those Rathtar monsters and even tell a Poe and Admiral Akbar tale. The game also includes a Return of the Jedi-set prologue during the Battle of Endor that lets you play as Wicket and blow up the second Death Star.
The new gameplay additions are cover-based shooting, multi-builds that use the same set of bricks for multiple structures and flying sections, including piloting the Millennium Falcon, which are some of the best parts of the game. Well, that and controlling BB-8. They also got the cast — yes, even Harrison Ford — to record new dialogue for the game and offered up 200 playable characters all told.
It's a treat for fans of both the Lego and Lucas brands, and if you were getting weary of the former, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens gives the game series the same much-needed creative jolt that JJ Abrams' effort gave the film franchise. In other words, yes: the Lego empire has struck back. (TT Games / Warner Bros. Interactive)