This is the first LEGO title to hit the Vita based on the legendary Star Wars franchise, but those of you that have been gaming for a while will remember that Star Wars is the licensed franchise that started it all.
A lot has changed since those early days, and many games of various quality – especially on the Vita – have been and gone, and so as we finally get a Star Wars title on the Vita, it’s with a huge sigh of relief that we also get the best Vita LEGO title yet.
Unless you’ve been exiled on either Dagobah or some random,
Irish faraway island that only R2-D2 and BB-8 know the location to then you’ve probably seen the latest installment of the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens. Personally, I thought it was a great film and is my third favourite of the seven – The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope are ahead for me. The game’s plot mirrors that of the film rather closely and sees you playing out many of the stand out parts over the course of nine main chapters. I’m assuming that you’ll have seen the film by now but just in case I’ll avoid major spoilers. The gist of the story is about locating Luke Skywalker, who has done a runner when the galaxy needs him most. The dark forces from thirty years ago are resurfacing and it’s left to the heroes – old and new – to do their part whilst Luke chills, hidden safely away from the re-emergent Sith.
The gameplay will be familiar to those that have sampled LEGO titles before; your missions will involve solving many puzzles and breaking/building LEGO parts to assist your progress, but this time TT Fusion have added a few new mechanics to enjoy. Firstly, you’ll now have a choice of multiple builds to construct in the puzzles. Another is a cover-based shooter scenario which appears a few times across the game and brings a welcome change of pace to the standard missions. Typically, most of your gameplay will be from a third person viewpoint, with the camera available to pan around (when it wants to work). You’ll also get to play in many flight based missions, taking on X-Wing and Tie Fighter missions – and even flying the mighty Millennium Falcon.
As you progress through each mission you’ll collect LEGO studs which serve as the game’s currency for unlocking characters and red bricks. As you might expect, there are many different characters to play as, all with many differing abilities. To fully complete the game you’ll have to play through it twice, once in the campaign and again in free play; a mode where you can use any of these characters. Exploring every nook and cranny and unlocking every single thing – including the five mission specific challenges – will take you longer than many of the recent LEGO titles and using the unique abilities can be fun, as is popping some of the more thoughtful trophies.
The additions to the gameplay and the well thought out level design leads to a very enjoyable experience throughout the game – this is easily the most fun I’ve had with a LEGO game on the Vita. Whilst I enjoyed LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, I was disappointed with its take on the two Avengers films with regards to the game’s length, so I was quite concerned that a game based from only one film could end up with even less content to play with. Thankfully, the team at TT Fusion have delivered here and you are presented with not only twenty-eight levels directly following the film’s narrative, but a whole host of extra missions and content to keep you playing afterwards.
If you’ve played a licensed LEGO title before then you’ll know what to expect from the visuals, and the game does a fair job of replicating the Star Wars universe in its unique, colourful, and humorous way. This is all backed up with trademark tunes, chirps and effects – not to mention dialogue – in the audio department. When put together, this is a package which looks and feels worthy of the brand name. TT Fusion have certainly nailed the presentation.
That’s not to say that everything is perfect though, and despite the high standard of presentation with the game, the camera can be a little annoying at times. It’s also disappointing to note that after the aforementioned LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, which had an open world hub for the first time on handheld, a lack of a fully open world environment seems a step backwards. That said, in its place we have a few, smaller open world environments to set up each level – so it’s not completely bad.
One constant nagging issue with these handheld ports has always been the lack of parity with the bigger console versions and once again we don’t have a complete 1:1 conversion, and once again we have some additional scenes which are (poorly) animated as opposed to the higher standard scenes lifted from the more complete version, but we are definitely getting closer in terms of content and quality. More attention, care, and effort is being applied to this series than before and that can only lead to good things.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the most fun I’ve had with a LEGO title on the Vita, and it more than does justice to the film it is based on. Tremendous fun, new mechanics, and with a fair bit to keep you playing for a little while – and at a more budget price, the force is definitely strong with this one.