There are many Lego Star Wars games, but none have promised more than Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. It’s a Lego-ized compilation of all nine main Star Wars movies with an open world and a whole mess of playable characters and collectibles. On top of that, The Skywalker Saga has overhauled gameplay, so it’s not just the standard Lego game affair. Even though it still seems like a pretty familiar Lego game, it also appears to be a hilarious yet respectful retelling of the main films.
This is easily summed up in A New Hope’s intro. After cleverly nodding to Rogue One’s ending, players are introduced to off-colored versions of C-3PO and R2-D2 before they are promptly smashed to reveal the actual C-3PO and R2-D2. Explaining a joke sucks the humor out, but there are many solid bits packed in that are sold through wonderful animation, cartoonishly expressive characters, and how the jokes themselves invert expectations, which can be accentuated by the returning Mumble Mode that turns the voice acting into mumbles. However, the Mumble Mode doesn’t seem to add more visual gags like the old games, which was a key part of why the mumbling was funny.
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Some of the more violent moments of Star Wars have also been comically changed to fit the tone while still getting the same point across. Many of these bits are quick and goofy without feeling like childish slapstick that would make anyone over 12 years old groan in disdain. The moment-to-moment gameplay has some funny animations sprinkled in, but the cutscenes have the true gold and the beginning parts of A New Hope are hopefully just a taste of the wonderful humor found in the other eight episodes.
There are also just different jokes and cutscenes in general in A New Hope’s new version. The game has been completely overhauled when compared to the 2005 original to the point where they look like completely different games made by different teams. This applies to the cutscenes as well as the gameplay since The Skywalker Saga adopts a more traditional third-person perspective over the distanced and slightly overhead camera in the others.
This allows the title to have more types of gameplay. It has third-person shooting and melee brawling on top of the very light puzzle solving and aerial dogfights. The camera angle is there to more naturally fit all of those styles without needing to constantly swap perspectives.
It’s a good switch that modernizes the franchise, but the individual elements aren’t as appealing, even if the controls are quite smooth and frictionless. As evidenced by the simple reticle, shooting is incredibly basic and doesn’t have much depth beyond shooting enemies in the head. Melee combat is also mashy since the most depth seems to come from countering in time or pressing another attack button when the opponent starts blocking.
Calling its puzzles “puzzles” is almost insulting since they don’t take much problem-solving skills to complete. The early ones were mostly about just hitting a certain button, completing a quick-time event, or using the right gadget. They’re there to seemingly just break up the fights and cutscenes. Multiple upgrade trees that apply to different character classes might add some more complexity, but it’s tough to determine how big of an impact those enhancements will have if the foundation is this straightforward.
The Skywalker Saga doesn’t appear to be as concerned with depth as it is with its breadth. There is much to do, yet it’s not like a lot of it will require much thought or dexterity. It has a wide amount of accessibility options that thankfully let users customize all sorts of aspects, but it’s unlikely to shake that relatively shallow nature at its core even when cranked up.
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This is further reinforced by its open areas that let players deviate from the critical path and gather doodads and complete side missions. The Lego titles were always heavy on the collectibles and this game looks like it will continue that trend and possibly leapfrog its predecessors because of its aforementioned exponentially bigger play space. More surface area means more stuff, after all. A denser space with a long to-do list spread over nine films of locations has the potential of resulting in a bloated checklist of boxes to mindlessly tick off since its mechanics don’t seem to have much weight behind them. On the surface, it’s what Ubisoft games are traditionally criticized for.
While that might not be untrue, those Ubisoft games aren’t in the Star Wars universe (at least until Massive Entertainment releases its open-world Star Wars game). And that can’t be merely swept away with The Skywalker Saga since that is a huge part of its appeal. The more lighthearted tone cannot be confused with being unfaithful. There’s a respect for the series painted onto every brick.
The number of playable characters and thoughtful expansions of the film sets come from a place of admiration and it’s lovely to be able to walk around the Lego versions of iconic locations from the Rebel Alliance ship in A New Hope to the moisture farm on the sandy dunes of Tatooine. The natural sets are rendered well enough, but the man-made structures are more awe-striking since they’re all built out of Lego. Watching them bust apart into pieces is as satisfying as appreciating the craft that undoubtedly goes into building these vast digital sets. Roaming around Star Wars’ worlds in the video game space is usually thrilling and the Lego version of that universe doesn’t diminish that feeling one bit since it captures the franchise’s awe in its own way.
Seven of the main nine Star Wars films have already been turned into Lego titles, so The Skywalker Saga may seem like only a little more than a compilation. But it’s more than that since TT Games has taken the opportunity to basically remake those earlier games with slightly more modern mechanics and visuals and stick them into one cohesive package brimming with love for the franchise. The mechanics aimed more at younger or casual audiences don’t seem to be as engaging and it might not be able to support that much content without growing repetitive. But it doesn’t look like a trap Admiral Ackbar would be wary of since it seems to be an earnest and novel tribute to Star Wars that pays equal homage to the entirety of the series from its best films to its worst ones.