|Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (2006)
Available for: Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC
Others have said it before, so I will chime in here as well. If you had ever told me that a "Star Wars" game based on Lego blocks would be one of the best ever in the long line of video games based on the "Star Wars" movies, I would have laughed you out of the room. But here we are with “Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy,” the sequel to the best selling “Lego Star Wars” (which I never played since I couldn’t give a crap for those “other” "Star Wars" movies) and suffice it to say that this is indeed the most fun and best time I have ever had playing a "Star Wars"-based video game.
For starters, it’s the original trilogy of films in game form we’re talking about here. How can you go wrong with that? You get to play through “A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi.” That in itself should be worth the price of admission. This is exactly the game that everyone who ever wanted to be a part of "Star Wars" has wanted for a long, long time. But what about it being set in the Lego universe? Honestly, it’s a blast. The game allows for plenty of laugh-out-loud and in-joke moments for fans of the original trilogy that it’s hard to imagine the game having been done better in a “realistic” setting with human characters, etc. Besides, this also leaves out the inevitable disappointment of not having the original actors supply their voices for the characters.
At any rate, the Lego blocks are an integral part of the game. Players will find themselves not only having to build necessary items with the blocks to solve puzzles, but also blasting and hacking them away to score “studs” which they can then use in the Mos Eisley cantina to buy extra characters and vehicles, power ups, or special building blocks. Each movie is divided into six chapters, with every chapter being pretty damn large and containing lots of destructible matter to discover studs. It quickly becomes addictive and strangely satisfying to start destroying the play areas in search of the things. Also, if you score enough studs per chapter, players will be awarded with the “True Jedi” achievement, which gives them another special block to be used to unlock even more goodies.
Gameplay is nice and simple. When playing through the initial story mode, players are given a pair of Star Wars characters corresponding to the same moments in the movie. Eventually, your duo will contain up to four or five in your party. This is handy, as in certain situations only droids can perform tasks like opening doors or working specific machines, whereas those still annoying Ewoks can crawl through little doors. Switching amongst characters is as easy as hitting the Y button. All other combat and Lego building is achieved through the X, B, and A buttons, and movement with either the analog stick or D-pad. It’s basic arcade control, allowing ease of play for everyone. If players want more of a challenge, the Progressive AI can be switched on.
Speaking of AI, don’t expect the other members of your party to do much of the fighting. They’ll hold off the enemy, but will never actually make any kills. This is the one and only downside to the whole game. If anything, it only makes such game achievements as clearing chapters undefeated even more difficult. Not only that, but players will undoubtedly find themselves getting blasted and losing portions of their studs, making that True Jedi rank tough as well.
On top of hand-to-hand battles, there are also vehicular battles spread throughout the game. So yes, thrill to flying the X-Wing, the Millennium Falcon, cruising along at breakneck speeds on the land speeder, and much more. Add to that a Free Play mode that allows players to go back and play through chapters with any unlocked characters they like (which they’ll have to do to complete 100% of the game, as only certain characters can access certain rooms), as well as a Super Story mode that is essentially a beat the clock mode in which players go through all the chapters of a certain movie with no breaks, and have yourself a top-notch game. Xbox Live fans may be disappointed in that there is only a standard in-game two player co-op mode, but there’s so much to work through here that this is a minor detail when all is said and done.The graphics are smooth and crisp, and the sound is of course filled with all the lightsaber, blaster, droid, and every other "Star Wars" sound effects that you could want. Of course, the famous John Williams soundtrack is there, too. Again, this is basically everything any "Star Wars" nut could want in a video game. Hell, you even get to use the Force when you’re playing as Luke, Obi-Wan, Yoda, or Darth. What more could you want? “Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy” has effectively set the bar remarkably high. It remains to be seen if future "Star Wars" games come close to the standard created here.