Authored October 2005, Originally appeared at GameSpot
This is surprisingly one HELL of a great little game! It’s easy enough for kids but never dull and so remarkably well put together any adult will have just as much fun.
Essentially the game features several chapters for each of the three prequel movies using Dexter’s Diner as the central hub. It can be played with one or two players and players can enter and leave the game at will (when they enter they take on the role of a friendly and when they leave that friendly goes back to computer control).
Possibly the Best Father-Son Game Ever
This freedom means that the game is perfectly suited for play with your kids. When my son and I play I can stop for a few minutes to do something or he will. Sometimes he likes to watch until something interesting comes up and then he’ll jump in.
You begin playing as Jedi, but can instantly switch to any friendly character in the story missions. This is often required: droids are required to open many doors, Jar Jar can jump higher than anybody else, Jedi can use force powers, etc. Cooperative play makes many of the levels easier but they are all easily done solo as well (the computer does a fine job of managing cooperative puzzels).
Most levels feature secret areas and alternative paths. For example playing as a Jedi will expose certain paths forward while playing as Padme will expose others in the same very well designed space.
After you complete an area you can spend “studs” (the game’s collectable currency) to purchase access to any of the characters appearing in that area (including bad guys). You can then enter the area again in “freeplay” mode where you can instantly change to any of the characters you’ve purchased.
In freeplay mode you can alter the way you play at any time: as adroid in the droid army or Darth Maul Naboo soldiers will attack you, switch to a Naboo soldier and then droid soldiers have your number. There are many areas in the various chapters that you can only reach by returning to them with different characters (and their unique abilities).
Force Done Right
The game looks great: every single object in the game could be built with actual legos. Jedi force powers rearrange or move blocks in perhaps the best ever implementation of “the force” in a game. Enemy droids (and you) explode into the same pieces you’ve bought at the diner when “killed” (most of the models used are exactly same as the consumer sets).
Character death in the story missions means a loss of some of the your collected studs but nothing else. You respawn exactly where you are with no loss of progress. There are however some vehicle missions which may require some replay.
For example the pod race is split into three laps of three sections: fail to come in first in any section and you must replay that section. This is also one of the few places where the two player model truly hinders progress since both players are on the same screen when racing (meaning that you’ll constantly smack into your playmate) and both are forced to restart the section if either screws up. I suggest you play those sections solo to reduce frustration.
The only other negative I have is that the game is really quite short. You can run roughshod through the story missions in less than four hours. It may take you another four to collect all the “miniset” pieces and other extras.
But the freeplay mode’s character switching and open-ended, two-player play is interesting enough to keep kids coming back to it for a long time. This really is the best parent/child game I’ve seen in a very long time.
Here’s hoping Lego will adapt other licenses to this general concept. “Spiderman”, “Harry Potter”, “Bionicle” and several others could be easily adapted to the same formula. It’s fun to play with Legos.