The Force is strong with TT Fusion.
I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I’ve read the books and comics, collected the toys, and watched the movies countless times—yes, even the prequel trilogy—and I’ve already bought tickets to Star Wars Celebration 2017 in Orlando, FL. I have seen The Force Awakens in 2D, IMAX 3D, and D-Box (for the unfamiliar, it’s a version where your seat moves and vibrates while the action happens on screen). I love the LEGO games so needless to say I was stoked that there was going to be a LEGO game based on The Force Awakens. When I thought about it further, my excitement lessened a bit after thinking back to the previous LEGO games based on Star Wars, remembering that those games were based around both of the trilogies. I wondered whether one movie would be enough to carry a LEGO game, let alone make it worth the full $60 asking price. But my worries were mostly assuaged.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the newest installment that’s based on the blockbuster movie from Disney and Lucasfilm. As with past games in the franchise, the movie is broken down into mini-episodes of key elements from the film. You’ll play through levels with new heroes Poe Dameron and BB-8, Rey and Finn, along with classic trilogy heroes Han Solo and Chewbacca. If you’ve seen the film, you pretty much know what to expect, but with that layer of LEGO charm and fun mixed in.
The first addition that's completely unexpected in LSWTFA is story missions that expand on plot threads that were mentioned during the film and other Star Wars stories based around non-key players that had brief screen time. You’ll get to play as Poe on a mission to rescue Admiral Ackbar and play as Han and Chewie hunting and catching Rathtars on an outer-rim planet. Who would’ve thought you’d be introduced to official Star Wars story content in a LEGO game?
Another new, exciting addition to the usual LEGO gameplay is Blaster Battles. At certain points in a level you’ll run into an enemy encampment where you’ll need to take cover from a barrage of Stormtrooper fire. This is the first time that LEGO has introduced a third-person, cover-based shooter mechanic, which works like a light, bloodless Gears of War. You’ll pop out from behind cover to mow down waves of enemies using your blaster, thermal detonators, or even the environment to take out enemies with heavy weapons.
Space combat is nothing new to the LEGO Star Wars franchise, but aside from the standard on-rails shooting segments, they’ve also added several open areas where you can fully maneuver your ship and engage in some serious dogfighting. The developers at TT Fusion likely took a page out of the playbook from DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront when crafting these stages. Piloting ships like a TIE Fighter and especially the Millennium Falcon reminded me of the many classic Star Wars games that have released over the years. It’s fun, fast, and can be very satisfying. My only gripe is that there’s seemingly and strangely no option to invert the flight controls.
Destroying everything in your path is par for the course in any LEGO game, as much as rounding up specific blocks to build something to advance your progress. Where the devs have expanded on this formula is an upgraded mechanic called Multi-Builds. Now at certain points during stages you’ll have the puzzling task of needing to use the same pile of bricks to build different objects. Some might simply allow you to proceed to the next area while others will require you to complete puzzles to acquire specific objects, open doors, or give you the elusive mini-kit. It’s nice to have the variety of building a regular LEGO object, then destroying it again to build something else. It might seem a bit redundant at first, but in the later levels they become essential to figure out level progression.
You might not feel as impressed with the game's visuals, especially if you try to compare them to other games in the WB portfolio, like Batman: Arkham Knight. But if you’ve played any of the previous LEGO games whether it be LEGO Marvel’s Avengers or LEGO Jurassic World, you’ll see the subtle visual improvements that evolve with each installment. The environments are better textured and I don’t think C-3PO has ever looked more shiny and golden in any previous game. Overall puzzle design and world layout flow perfectly and LSWTFA is easily the best-looking LEGO game yet.
For LEGO completionists the grind is absolutely still here. From an abundance of gold bricks to over 200 unlockable characters and vehicles that can be used in the free-play modes and expanded story levels, it’s all here if you’re willing and able to put in the time. For those of you that like to use the red brick cheats for the fast builds or stud multipliers, they are now accessible right from the character select wheel and can be accessed early on if you’re able to locate them within each story level.
Like many other game publishers that crank out annual game releases, Warner Bros. consistently churns out LEGO games across all platforms. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve decided to skip some of the big AAA annual installment releases from EA, Activision, and Ubisoft, because I feel like I’m playing the same thing over and over again. But for some reason I don’t feel the same way about WB’s LEGO games and LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a testament to that. Moreover, it is a complete Star Wars game. The new Blaster Battles, Multi-Build evolved puzzles, and the flying stages are sheer fun to be had by all and made me feel a bit nostalgic for other classic Star Wars games. The Force is clearly strong with TT Fusion.