Crispy Gamer

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (PS3)

It sounded like a stupid idea, really. Back in 2005 we?d had our fill of Star Wars, and many fans were still feeling burned by Lucas? disappointing prequels -- so who?d want to play a Star Wars game starring characters made of plastic building blocks? I mean, besides parents and children? Turned out the game, LEGO Star Wars, featured decent gameplay, a wicked sense of humor and style, and the joy inherent in blasting bumbling Storm Troopers into their component bits. Traveller?s Tales injected humor and whimsy in what could have been infantile, appealing to the kid and Star Wars fan inside all of us so-called hardcore gamers. The sequel featured the beloved Original Trilogy and refined the gameplay even further. Now, like a DVD special edition of the movies, you can get both LEGO Star Wars games in one package and play them both on your PlayStation 3.

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga is simple. Play as one of many (unlockable) Star Wars characters and use them to move through all the important plot points -- and a few new side-quests -- from all six major motion pictures. Take on a plastic Rancor, strafe the Death Star, and duel with Darth Maul, all rendered in colorful LEGO cuteness (it?s like playing a fan-made YouTube video). Action is the focus, but the game also features some clever but not-too-challenging puzzles. Most of them are of the ?use this with that? variety and some may stump you, but since this is a kids? game, one of its great pleasures is playing through it quickly and then playing through again as a favorite or bizarre Star Wars character. They?re all here: Han, Obi-Wan, Luke, Vader, Qui-Gon, C3PO, Chewie, Yoda, Darth Maul, General Grievous, Lando, Princess Leia -- and Princess Leia in Slave Girl Outfit (you were waiting for that one, weren?t you?). You can also create combinations of characters. Yes, just like in real life you can put Yoda?s head on Leia?s body (c?mon, you know you did this).

The game?s camera system is a bit erratic but the action is satisfying, whether it?s gunplay or with the more elegant Lightsaber. The game features a reward system that has you smashing things to collect LEGO studs so you can spend them on weird little goodies like disguises and also unlockable characters at the Cantina. It?d be nice if the studs were attracted to your character; instead expect to spend a lot of time maneuvering your character around trying to gather them all up.

The game rewards explorers and gatherers: Each of the game?s 36 levels is riddled with secret stuff (you can actually unlock Indiana Jones if you search hard enough) and you can return for more studs by using different characters. For example, some areas are too small for big characters to get through, but it?s a snap for Yoda, an Ewok or a Jawa.

Everything moves into the next generation intact. The graphics are cleaner, brighter and more detailed, and the game still lets another player drop in or out for a little cooperative fun at will. On the PS3 this can even be done online, letting friends battle the Dark Side together even if separated by continents. Of course the audio, sound effects and music are great. Besides the clatter of falling plastic pieces, you?ll hear those familiar Star Wars sound effects (the PWEW of a blaster, the hum of a saber, the beep of an Astromech droid -- they?re all here) and of course, John Williams? original scores featuring highlights from all six movies.

The appeal to kids is readily apparent -- the Star Wars universe has it all: violence, space ships, monsters, magic (or midi-chlorians if you prefer), laser swords, blasters and more. But for adults, especially adults who played with LEGO sets and Kenner Star Wars action figures as kids, the game is literally your imagination come to life. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga triggers a powerful nostalgic reaction that more than makes up for its childlike degree of difficulty and simple gameplay. It?s a trap all right, but one in which most geeks wouldn?t mind getting caught.

This review was based on a retail copy of the game purchased by the author.