Jul 29, 2009

[Games] LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game (PS2)

LEGO Star Wars: The Video GameLike most other geeks, I've always been a big fan of LEGO - you know, those little blocks that connect together for form anything from oil tankers to space ships. It seems a geek requirement to fully understand what exactly a minifig is, and that's just part of the role LEGO plays in our geek lives today.

On the other hand there's science fiction series like Star Wars, that many geeks are devoted to as well given the epic storytelling, the compelling characters and the role the movies played in our childhood. Let's face it, Star Wars is something that you'll never forget.

Now combining the two together could have turned out in any number of ways, some amazingly good and others horrendously wrong. I was of mixed feelings the first time they announced a game joining the two series given past toy-based games that have forever scarred us such as the Hot Wheels / Micro Machines racing games and the countless installments of Barbie-based adventure games and what have you. Thankfully, this game turned out a heck of a lot better.

LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game marks the first digital venture of the LEGO franchise paired with other properties that they've started to tie-up with. It seems fitting enough that they started with LEGO, which also marked their first tie-up of this nature for the actual LEGO play sets and model kits.

The premise of the game is simple - following the storylines of the three Star Wars prequel films, you get to control a host of LEGO-style Star Wars characters as you guide them in their adventures to fully cover the movies they are based on. More than just a straight-forward story-based adventure game, it turns into more of a puzzle game where you need to perform various tasks in order to progress to the next part of the story.

At first I thought this was going to be some ridiculously childish game but when the initial reviews started to come out and videos of the gameplay were released, I immediately got curious and was anxious to try it out. I definitely didn't regret that decision and found myself hooked on the game and determined to finish it once I started.

Gungan - and Jar Jar BinksImage by hummingcrow via Flickr

The key strength of the series is the need to employ the unique skills of each of the characters in order to solve the puzzles and get to the next stage. For example, only certain characters can use grappling hooks to get to higher ledges and only Jedis can control the light side of the force to move aside certain obstacles. Even annoying characters like Jar Jar Binks becomes highly important given his higher jump ability compared to other characters. Given this unique mix of skills and abilities, the game ends up feeling a lot like the old game The Lost Vikings, which was also dependent on the player using three characters with specialized abilities.

Next definitely has to be the diversity of the gameplay options. Most missions try to follow the movies in the usual manner using character-driven sequences and puzzles that involve multiple configurations. Beyond that, there are also special missions involving the unique Star Wars vehicles and these can be anything from pod racing to epic space battles with key mission objectives. The designers did really well in making sure that game remained fresh and viable no matter how long you play.

Plus there are all the unlockables, secrets and bonuses that give players lots of things to strive for. There's the basic goal to collect as many different character types as possible in order to gain access to their skills and abilities in Free Play mode or even just collecting enough of the special blocks to form larger-scale models of popular vehicles that remain as part of your collection to be viewed at your leisure.

This game was just incredibly fun and even better played cooperatively together with a friend. It's definitely something I'd recommend to any geek, especially if you're a fan of either the LEGO franchise or the Star Wars films.

LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game gets 5 minifigs out of a possible 5.




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