I’ve found myself with some unexpected free time this week, while classes spin up into full speed.
I decided to fill it with Lego Star Wars for the XBox.
This is a brilliant game, one of the best all-ages titles I’ve ever played. The concept is simple: What if everything in Star Wars were made out of legos? Crazy, I know. But it works in some strange indefinable way.
The game (also available for the PS2 and Gameboy) very faithfully recreates episodes 1 through 3. I managed to finish episodes 1 and 2 in a few days, but refuse to play the third until I’ve seen the movie. I still hold out vain hope that it will be good. But that’s a rant for another time.
LSW is not a hard game by any measure. You run around the levels as any one of a plethora of legoized Star Wars characters, blasting or light sabering your way through lego obstacles and enemies. I especially enjoyed how use of the force is implemented. Since everything is made out of legos, the force simply rearranges them into various helpful forms (or in some cases makes objects dance around amusingly while Cantina music plays). There’s a bit of puzzle solving involved, though nothing that will stump you for too long.
The game also boasts a surprising amount of humor, especially in the cut scenes. And being legos, the violence in the game is greatly toned down. Enemies don’t burst into splatters of blood and gore – they fall apart into their component legos.
Considering that the vast majority of Star Wars games have been somewhat less than great, Lego Star Wars is extremely welcome. It appeals equally to kids and adults, though there are a few levels that I can’t imagine a child getting through without adult help. I got very frustrated in the cursed podrace level, and I imagine it would be even worse for a young’un. Speaking of podracing, I’m now convinced it was only put in Episode I to provide an easy level design for every Star Wars game made since. And it has never been implemented well in a console game that I’ve seen.
Ahem. Back on track. If you don’t have kids of your own, LSW is probably a better rental than a purchase. While there is some limited replay value in unlocking some secrets once the pretty quick main game is complete, it isn’t overly compelling. But I do admit the prospect of unlocking and playing as Lego Darth Vader holds a certain allure.