Awakening the Force Brick-by-Brick

In my two-in-one Creative Blogger and Liebster Award post, I mentioned that I had maintained a love of the model-building toy series LEGO since my childhood. Of course, I have also maintained a love of Star Wars and associated video games since my childhood as well.

If only there was a way to combine all of these into one...

Yup, this'll do.


The LEGO video games have been a staple in a lot of families' households since Tt Games's original LEGO Star Wars game, depicting a crude and humorous take on Episodes I, II, and III came out in 2005. Since then, not only have the remaining three Episodes and even the first two series of The Clone Wars been given the LEGO treatment, but so too have franchises including Harry Potter, Indiana JonesLord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even the DC and Marvel Superheroes.

The majority of these games had an art of telling the story through physical means alone; until the second LEGO Batman game, none of the characters ever made any sounds outside of actually specifically-recorded grunts and "huhs". Bonus points for the LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars for actually getting the cast members from the actual show to do this.

As a specific example, the famous "I am your father!" scene from The Empire Strikes Back was accomplished by Vader pulling out a picture of himself and a pregnant Padmé - quite how LEGO figs do the nasty is not even worth thinking about - and showing it to Luke while pointing between his younger self, his wife, and then back to Luke.

As mentioned, since then actual voices have been recorded, with the LEGO Lord of the Rings and Hobbit games using vocal 'footage' from the films, which is a change several veterans of the series have expressed disappointment over. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which released on Tuesday the 28th of June, is no different, but has managed to secure the actors from the film to record entirely new dialogue. Yes, this does include Harrison Ford!

It's hilarious to hear people like Oscar Isaac and Daisy Ridley say such things as "I should really do some rebuilding" and "That sounded smashy!" as sincerely as their characters would do if, in the actual film, they needed to do these various crazy things just to get to the next area. Ford, however, takes the cake: his character Han Solo actually requests "Wookiee Cookies" for Chewie as part of a special bonus mission which depicts his wrangling of the Rathtars.


As an actual game, LEGO The Force Awakens is actually pretty damn involving. There are various points where characters have to take cover and fire at enemies strategically, whilst the main Resistance Base on D'Qar - there's also a full-blown galaxy map - actually has MMO-style repeatable quests which can be done for in-game currency.

Considering that all of the previous games just involved going along and beating/shooting people up as the most 'advanced' form of combat - the odd quicktime event notwithstanding - this new game does feel like it has distanced itself from its legacy by quite some way. Not that this is entirely a bad thing, as the cover sections do make for more 'realistic' blaster combat in short bursts, and the more fun "beat-em-up" combat is still very much at the core of the gameplay.

Compared to the previous ones, where it was very possible to just lose yourself for hours in LEGO goodness fun, the new one is much harder to just simply enjoy. There are many many great details to appreciate, particularly the vast open world in-between the various levels, but now it just feels too rigid.

For example; in the original two LEGO Star Wars games, you could find bad guys in the main game hub just intermingling casually with good guys, and you could instigate a massive fight simply by hitting somebody who was 'evil' from your current character's perspective. Such a feat isn't possible in this game, since the main game hub belongs to the Resistance, and it wouldn't make sense story-wise for evil characters such as Kylo Ren to show up here without a player directly controlling him.

Speaking of evil characters in good places, in the LEGO Harry Potter games, you could take Voldemort or any Dark Wizard around Hogwarts and literally Avada Kedavra all the students and staff you came across. The fun bit? They wouldn't ever respawn.

"I hope the one with the red trunks wins!" - "They're both wearing red trunks!" - "Oh. Never mind."
That said, as serious as the game itself seems to be compared to its predecessors, there are still moments of levity outside of the cutscenes. Notably, the descendants of the infamous Beach Troopers - helmeted Stormtroopers who wore nothing else but swimming trunks - can be found playing volleyball on Jakku, and there can't be many games where you can say you've fought a Stormtrooper wearing a sombrero.

Some of the idle character animations are absolutely adorable as well. Should you exit the main story and return to D'Qar, you will be playing as either Snap Wexley or Jessika Pava, the two most prominent survivng Resistance pilots from the film, and they - actually, much like any Resistance pilot character - will occasionally pull out a miniature model of a T-70 X-Wing Starfighter and swoosh it around their heads like a young child, even imitating blaster fire by rocking the model back-and-forth rapidly.

Pew! Pew! Pew!
I think the most annoying thing to come from this is that, like a lot of game companies do these days, the LEGO games now have DLC. Thankfully, the DLC for these games is - so far, at least - only characters from previous films and not things which actually affect gameplay, but it's still disheartening to see DLC for a game series which used to be so good at being entirely self-contained with no 'fancy' add-ons.

Annoyingly, there is a way to unlock "iconic" Star Wars characters in-game, and this would be the perfect opportunity to feature the DLC characters - so far Jedi Council characters, droids such as General Grievous, and characters from The Empire Strikes Back - as not DLC, if that makes sense, but I haven't yet figured out how to unlock the iconic characters or even which ones they are yet. I'd wager that Jar Jar Binks is probably going to be one of them, because everyone needs to kick the ever-living stuffing out of a Gungan sometime.

So, yeah. The LEGO Games always have been fantastic, and they likely always will be. Whilst it can't be denied that the previous ones had a finesse to their simplicity and absolutely mastered the physical comedy with the limitation of not having speech, the newer ones are still pretty damn decent. I challenge anyone to watch Luke and Vader putting aside their differences before battling Emperor Sheev Palpatine in the Battle of Endor prologue for this game without cracking up. 

It's easy to see why people envy this series. Tt Games is probably one of the only few gaming companies to pump out games using the exact same formula with very few limitations every single time, and yet they still get consistently high review scores with only one "bad" game - the second Indiana Jones game - tarnishing their reputation.

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