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Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Review

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

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Release: 05/04/2022
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Genre: PS5 Reviews, Reviews, Switch ReviewsXBox One ReviewsXbox Series X Reviews
PEGI: 10+
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The Lego games have been feeling a tad tired as of late. More than once I’ve jumped into a game wishing they would rebuild the franchise from scratch. You know – brick by brick. Enter Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. It certainly looks different enough on the surface, but is it as transformational as long-time fans might have hoped?

The simple answer is no. It’s decent fun – especially if you’re a fan of the more involved modern Lego gameplay loop. But it’s not genre-defining. In fact, it kind of made me long for the simpler Lego Star Wars games.

I mean, it’s probably the most comprehensive visit to the film universe of a galaxy far, far away that we’ve ever seen, and that in itself will be a thrill for some fans. Children in particular will have a blast exploring every iconic location and planet without too much pressure to carry on with a mission.

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And that I think explains the mixed reaction. Some people will absolutely get the sandbox thing, and will enjoy every second exploring nooks and crannies galore. Others will wish for something more focussed, more targetted.

Unfortunately, I’m in the latter camp.

A Long Time Ago…

I have good memories of the original Lego Star Wars. I played them with my little brother, I got all the achievements on Xbox 360. Those games were simple, they rewarded you for wanting to play deeper, but allowed you to rush through if you wanted to. It was just simple fun.

We played Indiana Jones, we played Harry Potter. We even played Lord of the Rings. The games started getting more complicated, and, in my opinion, less fun. Open worlds forced us to reach specific places to get to the next level, instead of just selecting the next level. You couldn’t just buy cheats and characters any longer, you had to do certain things to get them. The complications always seemed to arise from a need to extend the game, not necessarily from the need to improve upon it.

And that’s kind of where I am with Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. It’s a Lego game with a different camera and a better fight system. And there’s a lot of it that works really well. And then there are missions that are entirely built around following one character on a path for a minute and a half.

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The levels recreating the famous moments from every single mainline Star Wars film are short – usually over in a couple of minutes. Exploring the open world between them can take many times longer.

Some people will read that and get excited. Others will cringe about yet another open-world sandbox. It’s that kind of situation.

This was a problem with Lego The Hobbit too, and I’m sure with other recent Lego games. So what has actually changed?

Lego Star Wars: A New Camera

The change in camera absolutely does feel massive. It stops feeling like a game about children’s toys and starts to feel like an action game. Even if nothing else had changed, this definitely has a bit of a psychological effect. You feel more involved, more in control.

This is most obvious when you’re exploring one of the open-world sections. I felt free to experiment in getting around like I’ve never done before. Maybe because of the point of view, it was always obvious where you would be able to get to (or not) in the old games. It felt built around powers. Here it feels more built around your reflexes. That might be entirely in my head, but it’s something I appreciated.

The new fight system is an improvement too, although more of a minor one. Traditionally, you punched a hit button and, after hitting someone enough times, they broke apart. That’s as complicated as it tended to get, until you added spells or special powers or whatever. Here you have a combo as standard, being able to combine buttons to, for instance, break blocks. It makes the fight system more interesting, but doesn’t necessarily change it up much. It’s just now you press two buttons rather than three.

There are some counters and the like, but it’s very reactive. I didn’t feel the need to use them very often, and the circumstances have to be right. This is not Assassin’s Creed or Spider-Man. It’s not a beat-em-up. It’s Lego with extra steps.

And that’s not a problem. If the experience felt less “CREATE YOUR OWN STORY” and felt tighter and more structured, it would’ve been a big improvement. But it doesn’t.

Be Your Own Jedi

The open-world segments are impressive in their scale. They’re filled with things to explore and side missions to complete. I just wish they were more gripping.

And I appreciate this might be down to my age. It might be down to the fact that I’m tired of open world. It might just be down to the fact that this is, first and foremost, a child’s game, and imagination will fill in the cracks.

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But whatever it is, the open worlds felt sparce to me. They felt like a playground, a potential for stories – but nothing to actually do. No stories of their own. Even the missions are very minimal, asking you to go somewhere, do something, then fight someone. Rarely there may be a puzzle element, but it seems unusual.

The planets were impressively made, and I liked to see familiar sights from the films up close. The worlds are well-realized. But I found myself largely just running through them to continue with the story. Thanks to the recent success of the franchise, however, I’m sure there are plenty of people who will disagree with me.

Return of the Saga (Again)

Star Wars is a hot topic again, and deservedly so. The Sequels, while controversial, were successful, and the spin-offs have even the most diehard fans teary-eyed. Revisiting the entire franchise within that context, in a single style and engine, is genius.

And in terms of story, this is the best the franchise has been in years – with one major caveat.

Lego games were always known for their humour, and it felt like that began to lack when they started to add audio from the properties they were copying. It’s hard to enjoy the jokes if your favourite scene from Lord of the Rings is being played completely straight over the top of it.

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Star Wars Saga compromises with voice actors. It means you have all those meme-worthy lines from the original trilogy, but you can also have the puns and pratfalls of the original Lego games in there as well.

It’s just a shame so much of the voice work is off. I’m not going to single out any one voice, because it would be difficult to do. Everyone sounds at least enough off from their film counterpart to be annoying, with some bad enough to feel like a completely different character. Some you’ll recognise from the cartoons, and that makes sense even if the impressions are off. Others don’t even get that benefit of the doubt.

Graphics and Sound

This is the prettiest Lego game to date, and it’s not even close. This might, again, be because of the change in camera, but everything looks fantastic. There seems to be a new life in the world, without ever getting away from the Lego asthetic.

Sound work is about what you’d expect – the songs you want to hear are there, as are the sound effects. The aforementioned voice problems will bother some more than others. Kids won’t care. Cartoon fans will probably defend it. Film-only people may be tripped up.

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Review – Conclusion

Lego has come a long way since the original Lego Star Wars game, and this complete reimagining proves it. In some ways that’s a good thing, and in others it’s a bad thing.

You can’t argue with the pure depth of content here, even if the core content seems very small. You can’t argue with the love and attention that has gone into the planets, and changes to the camera and battle system are certainly steps in the right direction.

But for fans expecting to relive the glory days, this is still something different. It’s huge, and overpacked, and cumbersome. As Kids First Open World, that might be a good thing. It’ll keep them quiet all summer as they find secrets and come up with their own story.

For others, this is probably an experience where the bloat will get to you.

While it’s good, it’s good, and Lego Star Wars is certainly worth a play. But mileage will vary wildly.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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