maanantai 9. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (2006)

GENRE(S): Action
RELEASED: September 2006
DEVELOPER(S): Amaze Entertainment (DS, GBA), Traveller's Tales (GCN, PC, PS2, PSP, Xbox, X360), Robosoft Technologies (MAC)
PUBLISHER(S): LucasArts, Feral Interactive (MAC)

We all knew this game was coming, and we were glad about that. How could they even consider not to make another Lego Star Wars game, this time one that was based on the original trilogy we all so love? The home console version of Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy was a commercial and critical success, but once again, the Game Boy Advance version got the short end of the stick. I went on a mission to find out why, and I succeeded. There's nothing wrong with the game. It's just over so quickly you won't know what hit you.

Star Wars Episode XXV: Revenge of the Stud

The journey begins, again, for this one last
time (?).
An aged Obi-Wan Kenobi leads young Luke Skywalker to the path of becoming a Jedi Knight, before being finally killed by his former apprentice, and Luke's father, Darth Vader. With Obi-Wan's spirit guiding him, Luke is able to destroy the Galactic Empire's deadliest weapon, the gigantic Death Star. Obsessed with Luke and his power, Vader manages to entice his son to a final confrontation on Death Star 2, in an attempt to turn him to the Dark Side of the Force.

The developers placed a notable amount of more weight on the Lego theme, in terms of environment, sprites and use of sound. The "cutscenes" from the previous game are removed and replaced with event screens in standard gameplay graphics, to make the progress of the storyline a bit more fluid and comprehensible. The music is good, and the occasional voice samples add to the authenticity. This is another good-looking and -sounding game, not notably better or worse than the first one.

"Luke, you lost R2!" "Who the hell cares?
I'm invincible!"
In the first game, playing as a ranged combatant was hard, because it was so hard to aim the gun in isometrics. Well, Lego Star Wars II is full of characters that use blasters. The controls are a bit more fluid altogether, and there's an automatic lock-on system which helps out a great deal. The thing that really bothers me is that there is so little Jedi action. There are only 16 missions altogether, and only a few of them star Luke and only Luke. Only one of them has Obi-Wan as a selectable character. The developers saw fit to make much, much less sequences in which you absolutely need to switch characters. There are very few puzzles in the first game's vein here. All you need to do in most levels is to find a way out, and kick a lot of ass. Only the two Jedi Knights in the game have some sort of special ability triggered with the left shoulder button; Obi-Wan has the Jedi Mind Trick, which confuses enemies and stops them from taking action, and Luke has the Saber Throw. C-3PO and R2-D2 only exist to open doors in this game, nothing else. They're useless. What bothers me the most is that Wicket is the most useless character in the whole game, and you must use him in combat in one stage. He's slow and he has terrible range. Poor Wicket. I was so fired up about playing as him again. Each blaster-carrier can tinker with Lego debris to construct platforms, both Jedi Knights can use the Force for the same purpose, and Wicket is able to assemble traps from certain sort of junk.

One of my pet peeves in the whole franchise.
Finally I was able to do it without any cursing.
Just like everything else in this game.
The story as told by the Lego characters is simply hilarious and endearing, I'm still in so much love with the developers' imagination. However, the story is not quite consistent. First of all, some scenes from the movies which I would've liked to play are left out, the importance of some scenes on the other hand is exaggerated, and some key scenes are just simply ignored throughout the line. Also, it's quite funny that in the middle of Return of the Jedi, we're already in the Millennium Falcon, on our way to the Death Star core. One immediately starts to fear that it's the end of our journey, right there, and we haven't even seen Luke with Vader and Palpatine yet. Don't tell me that the decisive battle was left out! The Death Star explodes. No! That's not true! That's impossible!!! ...Wait. Now we're in Palpatine's quarters? On the Death Star? The very same Death Star that just blew up? Weeeell... maybe they're just testing us.

There are indeed some vehicle missions which the previous game completely lacked, in all three segments of the story mode. The vehicle controls are surprisingly good, no old mistakes are repeated and I must say I had fun with these missions. As far as the constant firing around you and the usual hectic nature of vehicle missions in Star Wars games are concerned, worry not: the game provides you back-up from the very beginning.

No respect for Wicket.
Let's cut the crap and get to the point: you're INVINCIBLE. That's right, you're perfectly invincible throughout the game. You fall in a chasm, you respawn on the edge. You get blasted to hell, you get a second chance right away. Those hearts up there, they're not for your health, they're to indicate how many hits you can take before you lose some studs, which are this game's driving force. Even if you lose all of the studs, you won't lose a life like you do in Sonic the Hedgehog, you just need to start filling your stud wallet from scratch. You probably figured this out already, but Lego Star Wars II is one of the easiest games to beat, ever. But, if you want to get everything there is in it, you'll need to go back to Free Play and play all the levels countless times (and do it good!) to gather enough studs to buy everything there is to buy and get better ranks from the missions. Not a very good sales pitch in terms of lifespan if you ask me. The first game was not that rewarding, but this is just ridiculous. It's like compensation to those of us who grew up playing Super Star Wars and still have broken veins in our eyes because of them and all that crying. When we asked for an easier game, we didn't quite mean something this easy. And it would've been nice to produce a more rewarding title in this day and age, too. Despite better gameplay values and the definitely more appealing theme than the first game, I must say that the main game of Lego Star Wars II is a huge disappointment, and totally non-replayable. Once again, the game's main attraction lies in Free Play.

The journey ends. What better way to end
a 25-game marathon than to get a visit from
the spirits of Yoda, Obi-Wan and... Vader?
He still breathes the same way, too.
You can purchase up to 20+ characters and vehicles for Free Play after finishing the story mode, and about 20 more after collecting all the Minikits, standing in for the first game's Death Star blueprints. You can also take on Free Play mode to try to become a True Jedi in each mission, which means you have to raise a certain amount of studs, that amount being specific to each mission. In other words, you need to avoid dying at all costs and search every corner. That's some nice challenge there. Wonder why they didn't make the game A BIT HARDER TO BEAT while they were at it? Well, seeing all those funny scenes which weren't that funny before Lego Star Wars came along to make them so, made this one playthrough worth something. I loved the "Luke, help me take this mask off" scene. As much I'd love to spoil it, I won't. With the studs, you can also buy some hints (as if you would need some) and random cheats from the Mos Eisley Cantina, which serves as your HQ.

I've never seen such a difference between a game's actual playability, and how long it would last as a product from a consumer's standpoint. Once again, Lego Star Wars II is good handheld entertainment, no doubt about it, but a major part of the game is rendered useless in just a couple of hours. Kids, and adults who aren't even sure how to hold the Game Boy Advance properly and straight, will get the most out of this version of the game. 

SOUND : 9.0


a.k.a. Lego Star Wars II

GameRankings: 58.33% (DS), 62.40% (GBA), 84.13% (GCN), 86.83% (PC), 85.19% (PS2), 84.27% (PSP), 85.93% (Xbox), 81.43% (X360)

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