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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

There has been an awakening …

Yes, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was just the shot in the arm that the “Star Wars” film franchise needed after the much-maligned prequel trilogy. And in a similar fashion, “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is exactly the kind of effort developer Traveller’s Tales needed to deliver in order to get its family-friendly video game series back on track after a string of so-so offerings.

As such, “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is easily the most enjoyable LEGO-branded game since “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes” way back in 2013.

“LEGO: The Force Awakens” recreates many of the most memorable moments from the film, including Rey’s escape from Jakku, the battle at Maz Kanata’s castle and the final showdown on the First Order’s Starkiller Base, injected with the same humor we’ve come to expect from TT Games. Not only does the game include dialogue ripped from the movie, but all of the key performers reprised their roles to record fresh lines, which adds a welcome level of authenticity to many of the side missions and assorted original segments.

Being a longtime fan of the LEGO series, the action here felt instantly familiar. I’ve always enjoyed the blend of platforming and puzzle solving that LEGO games rely on and “The Force Awakens” continues that while introducing some welcome new gameplay elements like cover-based shooting and multi-builds.

The cover-based shooting is the most significant change to the classic LEGO gameplay, and it works better than I expected. Tapping a button moves your character in and out of cover and a handy auto-lock feature makes it easy to pick off enemies. There was a decided “Gears of War” feel to the shooting sections and that’s never a bad thing.

Likewise, multi-builds add a new twist to the core break-and-build gameplay. With multi-builds, piles of bricks can be rebuilt into multiple forms in order to solve puzzles or reach otherwise inaccessible areas. Determining the proper design and the correct order that they need to be built adds a new layer to problem solving.

While flying vehicles has been featured in previous LEGO games, it’s never been done as well as it is here. Whether in outer space or in close quarters, dogfighting against TIE fighters was an absolute blast and it was a thrill to pilot some of the most iconic craft from “Star Wars” lore.

My kids and I had plenty of fun completing the roughly 8-hour story mode, but the real highlight of “LEGO: The Force Awakens” takes place once the credits roll. That’s when the free roam begins, allowing you to traverse any of the game’s levels with any character you’ve unlocked in order to chase down collectibles like gold bricks, red bricks and mini-kit pieces, and stock up on LEGO studs in order to purchase the more than 200 playable characters included.

While “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is extremely entertaining, my playthrough was not without frustration. My kids and I had to restart multiple missions due to various glitches such as characters getting stuck in the environment or puzzles not activating when certain objects are moved. Moments like these were rare and never repeated themselves, but they were nonetheless aggravating at the time.

Visually, “LEGO: The Force Awakens” is stunning. From the character models to the environments, objects have a level of detail and shine that makes everything seem to jump off the screen. The same goes for the many explosions and other effects that often fill the frame. I’ve already mentioned the quality of the voice acting, and the rest of the audio presentation is equally impressive.

Whether you’re in the market for a great “Star Wars” game, a great co-op game or a great family game, “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens” may well be the game you are looking for. Indeed, the Force is strong with this one.

“LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Developer: Traveller’s Tales

Publisher: WBIE

Available for: Xbox One, PlayStation 4 ($59.99); Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, WiiU ($49.99)

Rating: E+10 for everyone 10 and up

Score: 8.5/10