And while you certainly don't need the power of the Xbox 360 to enjoy a game like this, LEGO Star Wars II puts it to good use anyway. Click through our screens in the 360 version's image gallery and you'll see some fancy reflections on shiny plastic bodies, vibrant explosions of little plastic bricks and a marked depth-of-field effect that makes objects very close or very far away from the camera blurry. The current-gen consoles won't feature quite so many visual perks, but we don't think the gameplay will suffer one bit, nor will the cinematic sequences. They're legitimately laugh-out-loud funny, compressing key moments from the films down to a few, non-verbal seconds each, uncannily recreating some scenes shot-for-shot while sneaking in slapstick jokes that don't disrespect the source material. That's a balancing act that could have been disastrous had it gone wrong, but what we've seen not only works but might make LEGO Star Wars II the most entertaining thing you put in your console all year.
That said, there's still a few things we'd like to see tweaked. In some of the scenes, the camera pulls back a bit far for comfort, and with so much detail, we wish the thing would zoom in during the Snowspeeder and X-Wing battle sequences. We felt a little detached - but then again, it's hard to fault the game for always giving you a view of everything on the screen that could damage you. And pardon us for getting all mushy, but there's a sense of pure gaming joy when you sit down with this game - even though it's incomplete at this stage, we can feel that same magic we felt with the original LEGO Star Wars, now amplified by the power of classic movie nostalgia. We can't think of too many other games that feel equally thrilling to both "serious" gamers and the pick-up-and-play-because-it-looks-cute crowd. Nothing in our preview time suggests that LEGO Star Wars II won't deliver on everyone's high expectations.