LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360)
Not so long ago, on a host of consoles not all that far away, some of the brain trust at both LucasArts and Traveller's Tales came up with the idea to mix a grand space opera with a bunch of kids' building blocks. Together with the LEGO Group, the two companies put together a whole new twist on the Star Wars franchise -- and so the LEGO Star Wars franchise was born. Coming out of nowhere, the game snagged gamers' attentions by taking the stories from Star Wars movies and retelling them with the help of the LEGO blocks we all know and love. Thanks to the surprise success of the first game, the road was paved for the inevitable sequel, which revisited the original trilogy with the likes of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Now, just like the Special Edition versions of the Star Wars films Lucas fired off a few years back, next-gen owners now get to revisit the series in all new hi-def glory with the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga.
First off, if you're a Star Wars fan and you haven't played any of the LEGO Star Wars games yet, you should to burn your bootleg video of the Star Wars Holiday Special, toss your 1:1 scale lightsaber in the trash, and donate your custom-made Stormtrooper uniform to Goodwill. Thankfully, The Complete Saga is a second chance to redeem yourself to the Jedi Council and to relearn the ways of the Force. The game features simple and easy-to-learn gameplay coupled with a surprising amount of depth, all topped off with a sense of humor that has its tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Players pick and choose from a healthy dose of characters from the expansive Star Wars universe, playing through the events in the films with a variety of different abilities. Jedi characters wield lightsabers with ease and use the Force to manipulate LEGO objects in the environments. Of course, if you're looking to go the route of those with a midi-chlorian deficiency, the game also has a huge number of non-Force characters that are more than capable with a blaster and a grappling hook. This only scratches the surface of the characters? capabilities, and after playing through each level once in Story Mode, you'll have to mix it up in Free Play with characters' abilities to unlock all of the hidden goodies.
Keeping in mind the mistakes made over Greedo shooting first in the first film, the developers of The Complete Saga were smart enough not to make any drastic changes to the basic gameplay of the LEGO Star Wars series for the compilation. It's still just as simple to jump into and get the hang of this game without having to remember a bunch of complex maneuvers. Of course this simplicity is a bit of a double-edged sword. While younger gamers and those of the more casual scene will appreciate the ease of play, some of the more hardcore crowd will feel like they're playing a basic button-masher from back in the day. The biggest gripe, though, has to be that even with all the work the developers did to bring LEGO Star Wars up to current standards, they still couldn't fix the issues with the camera. Too often, players will be forced to make blind leaps of faith, or miss key hot spots due to nothing more than some shoddy camera angles. It's not enough to break the game, but it's an irritation nonetheless.
Of course, just because Traveller's Tales stayed faithful to the original games, it doesn't mean they didn't spruce things up a bit for newcomers to the series and old fans on the fence about shelling out the dough one more time for the same games they may already have. For starters, the game now sports some sharp, hi-def textures, making sure that these are the best damned LEGOs you'll see on the 360. From reflections of the steel floors to the desert winds blowing on Tattoine, the visuals are a real treat for the eyes. Also, for all of you diehard Star Wars fans, get ready to whip out your character guides, as there's a whole host of new characters making appearances in the new game. As an added bonus, there's even a special appearance by a certain fedora-clad, bullwhip-carrying, snake-fearing archeologist who's stumbled into this galaxy far, far away on his way to his own LEGO-themed adventure, due out later this year. And if there's not enough in the game for you, you can always do a little mix-and-match to create whatever you can imagine. There are even some brand-new levels mixed in throughout the game to make sure there's something fresh for those of you who have beaten the games the first time around.
LEGO Star Wars was tailor-made to be a great multiplayer experience, and The Complete Saga continues this trend. In single-player games, the player takes control of at least two main characters, swapping out with the AI as needed. The real fun though, begins when you get your friends in on the action, which is easy to do since extra players can jump in and out on the fly. With LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, this experience is taken online as well, with full Xbox Live support for two-player co-op play. Live games play just as easily as the pick-up games on a single console. So far, there have been no issues with regard to lag or dropped players that are attributable to the game itself. Whether you're playing a buddy in the room or across the country, getting a multiplayer game together is a no-muss, no-fuss experience.
So, just how strong is the Force with LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga? If you're a sci-fi fan or looking for something for the kids, and you haven't already picked up either of the first two games, buying this compilation is a no-brainer. If you're a Star Wars fan who has already got plenty of experience with the LEGO side of the galaxy far, far away, though, you might find yourself hard-pressed to come up with enough of a reason to buy another ticket to this enhanced version of the same games you played before.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game purchase by Crispy Gamer.