IGN Review of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
There's just something about the LEGO Star Wars series that works. With the first game, released in 2005, developer Traveller's Tales took two great brands, smashed them together and created something instantly familiar yet refreshingly new.
The effort was a grand departure from the vast majority of licensed games, which are often nothing more than transparent attempts to wring a few measly Republic Credits out of an established name. LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Star Wars II were both successful ventures -- a rare combination of kid-friendly gameplay that also grabbed the hearts and minds of gamers with more mature tastes.
That's why we were excited to get our hands on the latest member of TT's blocky little family: LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, which pulls LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Star Wars II together in one cohesive package.
The Complete Saga is essentially a straight compilation of those games, bumped up to HD-quality and lightly tweaked, and it will be most appealing to people who have never played the games at all or gamers who played one or both but don't already own them.
If you're not familiar with the LEGO Star Wars concept, here's a quick breakdown. The first game covers the "prequel" Star Wars films (Episodes I-III), and the second picks up where its predecessor left off (Episodes IV-VI). Each game is an action/puzzle/platform version of the story segment it covers, fast-forwarding through the highlights of every movie with LEGO approximations standing in for their real-life counterparts.
Rather than simply slap the two games together and forcing the player to choose one from the main menu, TT smartly chose to expand the Mos Eisley Cantina lobby system both LSW games use to move you between episodes.
The Complete Saga drops you into the Cantina to roam as you please - you can mess around in the junkyard, browse the shop, wander over to a two-player arcade arena or jump right in to the game's lengthy story mode.
After you finish the first chapter of Episode I (there are six chapters in each), the intro chapter of each episode is automatically opened for you, so you can skip around from episode-to-episode if you want to play your favorites first.
But LEGO Star Wars doesn't limit you simply playing through the story. We plowed through the game's six episodes in about 12 hours without detouring much for mini-games, arcade play or free play (more on that later). When our eyes refocused, we were surprised to see we'd only completed about 30 percent of the total game. Now that's replayability.
Overall, The Complete Saga is a success. The humor is spot-on, the animation is sharper and shinier than ever, the music and sound are extremely high-quality, and the entire package works on almost every level. The addition of online co-op for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 makes the game's already enjoyable two-person multiplayer that much better.
Unfortunately, the series has always suffered from a somewhat problematic camera system that can at times be overly restrictive and unforgiving. The camera controls feel a bit better in The Complete Saga, but they're still frustrating at times.
Our other small gripe with the game is with the series' Stud collection system. As you move your little LEGO Jedi, droids, humans, Wookiees and whatever the heck Yoda is through the game, you'll smash crates with your lightsaber, pull levers with the Force and construct all manner of objects out of piles of spare LEGO parts. As you do so, you'll be rewarded with a shower of silver, gold and blue "studs," which bounce merrily onto the surface around you.
The Studs act as currency, and more you gather, the more buying power you'll have back at the Cantina. It's actually a great concept, and if you can get past the fact that Jedi are wandering around the galaxy smashing peoples' personal property, it's a good time. However, the studs don't snap to your character after you release them, and that's fine the first dozen times but becomes tedious fairly quickly. Fortunately, you don't have to collect studs at all to finish the game's story -- they're only necessary if you want to head to the Cantina shop to buy hints (not really worth the money, er, studs), kooky items like disguises and unlockable characters.
You'll automatically earn the right to play through the game again (Free Play) with many of the characters you use or run into during the story mode - Yoda, Obi Wan Kenobi, R2-D2, etc. But if you want to go back and play through the levels you've beaten (and you will) with any character you like - Greedo or Chancellor Palpatine, for example - you'll have to spend studs to unlock them.
In a room off the Cantina, you can watch a trailer for TT's upcoming LEGO Indiana Jones game, and as a reward, you'll gain the ability to unlock a LEGO Dr. Jones. Finally, the Indiana Jones-vs.-General Grievous battle we've dreamed about for years.
If you play games as an obsessive collector, searching every nook and cranny for items to hoard, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a dream come true. If you just want to experience the LEGO-Star Wars mash-up from start to finish, you can do that too. For the hardcore, each of the game's 36 main chapters is replayable for a slightly different experience. As you play through the first time, you'll see rooms you can't enter or heights you can't reach. Later, you can return with characters you unlock to discover those areas and, yes, gather more studs.
There are a couple of extra chapters in The Complete Saga that aren't in the original games - Anakin Skywalker's pursuit of bounty hunter Zam Wessell, for example - along with some new playable characters (like Watto and the Twi'lek Aayla Secura) and new costume elements for your customizable characters. But overall, the game is mainly a well-realized sum of its previous parts, which makes it a success.
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