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LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy Review

publisher: LucasArts
developer: TT Games
genre: Action

PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 3.5GB HDD, 64MB video card
ESRB rating: E

release date: Sep 12, 06
» All About LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy on ActionTrip

When talking about the movie industry, every producer and major studio exec knows that if you want to make big money, you have to corner the family market. There have been numerous examples of success stories in that sense - nearly all of Pixar's movies, Dreamworks' Shrek series, and finally whoever the hell it was that made the Grinch - so why doesn't the gaming industry follow suit?

It's not that no one would want to cater to the family game market; it's just that they don't know how to do it well. Making an entertaining title that can appeal to all ages is like alchemy to some game developers - turning ordinary things into gold. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

That said, LucasArts and Traveller's Tales have done an amazing job with LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy.

The first game came out of nowhere to win the hearts and minds of gamers worldwide, and the sequel manages to build successfully on this formula by making sure it relies on some fundamental gameplay qualities - the basic building blocks of a good video game (pun intended).

As its name suggests, LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is based around George Lucas' original masterpiece. This in itself is a masterful move, which subtly draws the older audience into the LEGO world, as, let's face it, most of us thirty year olds have actually played with LEGO as kids, and have grown up on Episodes VI, V, and VI. So, needless to say, this is already ensuring huge sales for the game, as at the time I write this article, LEGO Star Wars II has already sold some 1.1 million units.

The familiar style of humorous cut-scenes and puzzle-based gameplay is once again the predominant theme in this latest iteration in the series. This time, however, Traveler's Tales has expanded on both the level design and the humor. The levels appear larger and more elaborate; the main campaign offers a myriad of unlockables. Each of the characters in the game has a specific role and function, so a majority of puzzle solving also relies on the strategic abilities of the characters. This great mix of core gameplay components makes the game so fun to play for everyone.

Besides following the linear story mode, players will be able to engage in the Free Play mode and customize more than 50 new playable characters by mixing and matching body parts, to build their own LEGO Star Wars heroes. In addition, unlocking more stuff will give you item upgrades, which will be very fun to use in the missions. Though fairly commonplace for cross-platform titles, it's all in the details, and LEGO Star Wars II has plenty of great stuff to offer to both kids and hardcore Star Wars fans.

I played the game with Dex here in the office in co-op mode and we were having loads of fun. When playing, one gets the impression that LEGO SWII was designed specifically with co-op play in mind, so to experience all the fun, you should sit down with a friend (or your kid) and give this game a spin--preferably on a 360 with wireless controllers. Taking into account the unique abilities of each of the characters, playing the game like this will almost certainly give you hours of fun.
While your kid might enjoy the pretty colors and all the neat characters, you will surely appreciate the great level design and all the vintage Star Wars memorabilia that's on offer. For the first time, gamers will get to build and ride vehicles (landspeeders, AT-STs, speeder bikes and others), as well as mount some familiar creatures (from the banthas of desert Tatooine to the tauntauns of frigid Hoth) through on-foot levels.

The use of the light sabers and the force is also a fun abbreviation to the standard platform gameplay, although a good portion of the entertainment comes from marveling at the very diverse and visually appealing levels and solving ad hoc puzzles. I was also relishing in the lighthearted humor with a subtle edginess to it - the very thing that makes Pixar's movies so great. Also, the special moves that some of the legendary characters can do - like having Chewbacca pull enemies' arms out of their sockets, or seeing Vader use his Force choke to name a few.

The downsides to this endearing title are not many. I wasn't too thrilled with the scalable difficulty system, as it didn't appear to adjust properly to our skill level. It felt to Dex and me as if we could've gotten more of a challenge out of the game in the later stages. In addition, the camera did get a bit cumbersome on a couple of occasions, especially in tight spaces. Finally, on one of the rigs I played, I experienced some weird sound synching issues. These appear to be related to the amount of available RAM. On a more powerful system with 2GB of DDRII 800Mhz RAM, the synching issues were no more. This seems to indicate some poor optimization work on the part of the developers. Overall, though, the game ran smoothly even on a mid range system.

Another thing is, playing LEGO Star Wars II on the PC just wasn't as fun as playing it on a console. Felt a bit too crude as compared to the smooth ride on the 360. Not that you won't have fun with the PC version, but the console variant simply felt more natural.

In closing, I must say it's great to see that LucasArts still has it in them to support titles that carry the spirit of their old adventure games. LEGO Star Wars II improves in every way on its predecessors, making the core gameplay more engaging, the audio and visual experience more appealing and the jokes funnier.

This one comes highly recommended from the AT crew.


8.8   Very Good

Excellent sequel, which betters the franchise in almost every way;

Sound synching issues, adaptive difficulty option, minor camera and installation issues (installation issues fixed in a patch).



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