Lego Star Wars review

GamesMaster reckons plastic's fantastic - if you can use a bit of force.

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Let's face it: Lego games are usually rubbish. Star Wars games - while they're sometimes good - are often rubbish. And games 'for kids' are almost always rubbish - so we weren't all that hopeful about Lego Star Wars.

Imagine our surprise, then, when it turned out to be the games equivalent of putting jam on a Yorkshire pudding, or trusting Ewoks to fight huge metal death-machines - a really stupid idea that works much better than you could possibly imagine. And it's all down to the Lego.

See, it's all about the logic of playing every scene from Star Wars - but with tiny toys. You can use the Force on bunches of flowers to make them spit out coins - and it makes sense, because it's Lego!

There are puzzles where six people have to stand on different switches to open doors - which is a pretty stupid thing to put in your palace, and definitely wasn't in the films - but that's okay, because it's Lego!

You don't have to put up with Hayden Christiansen's plank-faced acting - or even a impersonator pretending to be him - because it's Lego, and Lego people can't talk! Obviously.

Okay, so it's not particularly complicated. You've got three buttons: hit, jump and 'special ability'.

If you're stuck, chances are you need to smash something, jump over something or use the Force to rearrange something into a handy platform or a set of stairs.

But here's the clever bit; you've got up to five support characters trailing you at a time, and you can 'tag' any of them in to use their special abilities.

R2-D2 opens doors, Anakin crawls through tight spaces, Jar-Jar jumps really high and annoys everyone, and so on.

Support characters will follow you as far as they can, but you'll often have to go on ahead with another character to open up a path for them before you can move to the next area.

The very clever bit is that some levels have areas that are unreachable the first time you play through. You need to go back in Free Play mode with different characters to reach them.

And the super-clever bit is that another player can drop in at any time to give you a much-needed hand. AI characters will defend themselves but won't actually kill enemies - so another player can give you the edge in the fights.

When they're bored, they can simply drop out again, and the computer'll take over.

Don't worry, by the way - there aren't any specifically two-player puzzles, so you can play on your lonesome if you like.

The AI's smart enough to notice when you're trying to force-throw a block that you're already standing on. As we said, it's really very clever stuff.

Of course, this is all very nice and everything, but it'd soon get a bit tedious if that was all there was to it. Fortunately, Lego Star Wars uses its toytown origins to deliver some comedy touches.

Some will make you laugh a lot more in one level that an entire films-worth of cutesy gurning from Gungan liability Jar-Jar Binks.

Use the Force on the jukebox in Dexter's cafe, for instance, and the entire place starts hopping along to the Mos Eisley Cantina band's favourite tune.

Find some bricks scattered on the floor of Jango Fett's house, and you can rearrange them to form a portrait of the bounty hunter himself - then fiddle with them again to show a picture of a clone trooper. Nice touches like this alone make the game worth playing.

Virtually everything you see can be tweaked and prodded with the Force - from flicking lights on and off to making huge space-trucks explodes. And they'll all shower you with the lovely, lovely studs you need to buy extra characters.

Just as good is the Lego acting - although it's a scene-for-scene retread of the films, the characters react like proper comedy toys.

Shudder! As Captain Panaka stops dead when he runs into Darth Maul, making everyone else slam into the back of him.

Hiss! As evil Darth Sidious pokes his wrinkly face out from behind a pillar.

And swoon! As Lego Natalie Portman flirts with Lego Anakin after he's just murdered an entire village full of Lego Tusken Raiders. Okay, forget that last one.

For shameless fanboys, there's plenty of collectible magic to be found, too. Studs can unlock everything from clone trooper transports to silly moustaches for the characters.

The need to play through levels again provides a point to playing through again as Count Dooku. You'll even get a sneaky Lego peak at the much-trumpeted Episode III, if you really want to ruin it for yourself.

We're not allowed to show you any pictures here - or even talk about it much - but it's probably the most excitingly fight-packed instalment of the lot. Even if we're not sure about some of the characters yet.

The only problem is, Lego Star Wars is short. Really short. You'll rocket through all three episodes in less than six hours, and whether you'll bother trying to unlock all the special vehicles is questionable to say the least.

Still, it's virtually a must-play just for the fun of seeing little Lego characters miming out the best bits of the films. There's something about seeing Jango Fett run away on little stubby legs that Jedi Knight and KOTOR 2 just can't match.

Rent this one for a weekend, complete it with some mates and learn to love little Lego Lucas all over again. Now, if we can just convince Eidos to get to work on versions of the second trilogy - Lego Han Solo, anyone?

Lego Star Wars is out for Xbox, PS2, PC and GBA now

More Info

DescriptionWho knew a simple injection of plastic would breath more life into the stagnating Star Wars francise?
PlatformGBA, GameCube, Xbox, DS, PS2, PC
US censor ratingEveryone
Release date25 October 2005 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)