GAMING

The new Lego Star Wars is going to knock your blocks off

The forthcoming addition to the franchise takes on The Force Awakens, and brings improved flying dynamics and puzzle elements

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 6:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 6:00am

One of the most influential video games released in 2005 was Lego Star Wars: The Video Game. The title was a huge hit and helped turn around the Lego brand. Since then, there have been dozens of other spin-offs, including superheroes from DC Comics and Marvel. Harry Potter had his own games and so has Captain Jack Sparrow.

The popularity of the video games even helped create the Lego movie. But Star Wars seems to hold a special place in the hearts of fans, and the developer TT Games is returning to that universe with Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With the new project, the team are showing off everything they learned since the release of the first Lego title, says associate producer Tim Wileman. In addition, The Force Awakens will serve as a showcase for some new mechanics the developers have been dying to add.

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The campaign itself will take place over 18 levels, divided into 11 film levels and seven new story levels. TT Games worked with Lucasfilm to make sure that these added scenarios work with the fabric of the movie. It mainly offers background. For example, players will see how Han Solo and Chewbacca captured the Rathtars that eventually wreak havoc on their ship in the film. In another stage, players will find out just how C-3PO ended up with a red arm.

As with any Lego title, the new Star Wars game – scheduled for release on June 28, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and other legacy consoles – will feature hub worlds. There are five available and they will be the launch pads for missions in the game. It’s also a place for players to roam around, discover secrets and collect studs. These areas are Jakku, Takodana, Starkiller Base, D’Qar and the Millennium Falcon.

That’s a lot of space to explore, but thankfully, TT Games added 40 playable vehicles. They can be anything from creatures of burden like the luggabeast to a certain Corellian light freighter. Each vehicle has a role to play when it comes to puzzle solving and thrilling action. With the luggabeast on Jakku, Rey can hop aboard it and players can use it to break through walls and open up parts of the level.

Meanwhile, the Millennium Falcon shows off the updated flight mechanics. TT Games overhauled that part of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens to make it feel like players are actually piloting the legendary ship. In another stage on Jakku, Rey and Finn were being trailed by TIE Fighters. The first part of the level was linear and on a track as the ship had to dodge in and out of a ship graveyard while shooting First Order aircraft.

But the game transitions out after that and the Millennium Falcon battles bogeys in an arena area. Players can barrel roll and fly in any direction as long as they are confined within the level. They can even pull off manoeuvres like the Immelmann turn. The action is much better than the simple broom flights they did in the past.

While flying vehicles got a big upgrade, TT Games didn’t neglect the ground game. In fact, there are more major changes here than in previous Lego titles. On the combat end, the team added finishing moves that let characters like Rey pulverise a wobbly foe. When using firearms, players can end up in Blaster Battles, which are cover-based set pieces where players have to build objects for cover and fight back.

But gamers should be careful. This time around, enemies can make objects out of Lego as well. It makes combat feel smarter and more on an even playing field. Players have to be aware of where stray blocks are and try to deny their foes the opportunity to build obstacles or weapons.

And this segues to one of the bigger changes in the Lego video game universe – multibuilds. Once in a while, players will run across a pile of bricks that can be turned into two or three different objects. Players have to choose what to build. If they mess up and construct the wrong thing, they can easily destroy it and start over.

In one puzzle on Jakku junkyard, Rey found one of these multibuilds and constructed a switch that is activated by BB-8. Unfortunately, the droid was stuck at the bottom of a hill. I had to break the switch by attacking it and turn the bricks into a lever so I could hoist a broken TIE fighter and create a ramp out of its wings. Once BB-8 climbed up, I destroyed that lever and turned it into a switch that it could use to open a door.

The multibuilds add to the puzzle element and the overall Lego feel of the experience. Kids always break apart their brick creations and reassemble them into something else. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens gives them the opportunity to do the same, but it’s a more streamlined approach.

My brief time with the game shows it to be another solid outing from TT Games that actually looks nicer than past efforts. If the developer can fold these design elements into interesting levels, then this game could be a worthy addition to the franchise.

Tribune News Service