Last year, gamers were bombarded with a number of Star Wars titles, ranging from realistic shooter Republic Commando to the online action of Battlefront II. However, one little game caught a lot of people by surprise. Lego Star Wars was a game that used the little bricks to take you through the events of Episodes I, II, and III. With a little Episode IV teaser at the end, and still three more movies left to cover, it was inevitable that we would see a sequel. Well, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is finally here, and the results are (for the most part) good. This review is specifically for the Xbox 360 version of the game, although you won't find much difference if you play the PS2, Xbox, PC, and GCN versions instead.
The first game made the right choice in terms of gameplay. It kept things simple, to go with the simple look. The sequel does the exact same thing. Basically, all you do is take your blaster or lightsaber and trek (forgive me for saying the word "trek" in a review for a Star Wars game) through the various levels. Yes, there are obstacles, such as puzzles to solve and some platforming areas, but for the most part, all you're doing is gunning and swinging that laser stick. That doesn't mean LSW2 isn't fun. In fact, the opposite is true. Do you wonder why games such as Pac-man made a mint way back when? Because their gameplay was simple and addicting, and that's what LSW2 is. Now, the vehicle levels, which were "on rails" in the first game, are now free roaming. Normally, this would be a good thing, but this particular aspect of LSW2 was poorly executed. Going into this title, I thought that the vehicles would control much the same way they did in Factor 5's Rogue Squadron series, or in Nintendo's Star Fox games. Instead, developer Traveler's Tales decided to make the vehicles control more like your little ship in Geometry Wars. This may sound like a good idea, but it would have worked out a lot better had TT gone with better controls. I got used to them, and ended up having a little fun with the vehicle levels, but what could have been an extra layer of depth turned into somewhat of a minigame.
The age of "getting the high score" is pretty much gone, being replaced by the age of "the unlockables". However, with that being said, not all games give you something worthwhile to work for. While other games may have you play 200 hours to unlock a useless ten second developer's clip, LSW2's unlockables are actually worth getting. Basically, if you want it, you got it, whether it be new characters, levels, vehicles, or cheats. Plus, to give you even more bang for your buck, you'll find a time trial-esque mode, superb co-op play, the ability to create a character, ten secret items (called minikits) to find in each level, and even hidden power bricks, that let you buy certain cheats, such as invincibility. The abundance of characters is remarkable, especially if you pay the 200 Microsoft Points at the Xbox Live Marketplace to unlock the characters from the first game. Players of the other versions can unlock these characters by importing their game saves from LSW1. This gives fans a unique ability to play as just about every character in the Star Wars saga. Now, the actual game is short. You can beat it in a few hours if you just blow through everything. However, LSW2 will still give you many hours of enjoyment.
You'll find no speech in this game, as Lego characters can't talk. What you will find is the great soundtrack that has been a Star Wars trademark since 1977. I thought that the previous game was a bit too quiet for it's own good, a problem that is rectified here in LSW2. The soundtrack does its usual awesome job, the blasters and lightsabers make their unique "badooms" and "whooms", the explosions sound like explosions, and the speeder bikes and Vader's breathing are straight from the movies. TT Games couldn't have done it any better.
Usually, you don't want your games to look blocky. That's so two generations ago. Obviously, though, blocky graphics are right at home in a game like this, and they are artistically done. Even in Lego form, you can tell who characters are just by looking at them, which is a pretty good feat for some of them. From the sands of Tatooine to the forest of Endor, everything is visually appealing. It never gets too bland or boring. As for the cutscenes, well, if you loved the ones from the first game, you will not be disappointed. Each one recreates classic moments in the movies, giving them a funny twist. They are all done very well, especially the "I am your father!" one. That one may rank as one of my top ten cutscenes of all time. This is also where the PC and 360 versions shine, as both of those versions have slightly sharper graphics.
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is a good example of a developer using an excellent license (in this case, two licenses) to its advantage. While other games like this may do a few things better, the fact that you are playing through Star Wars movies in Lego form is something no other game can offer.
Graphics- The graphics are what you would expect, and the cutscenes are perfect.- 10
Audio- The easiest ten I've ever given. TT Games couldn't have done the sound any better.- 10
Value- Loads of stuff to unlock, but the main story is on the short side.- 8
Gameplay- Simple, yet fun and addictive. The vehicle levels could have been better, though.- 7
Curve- Other games may have better platforming areas or combat, but they can't let you play through the Star Wars movies in Lego form.- 8