Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is a better game than the original Lego Star Wars. However, it has nothing to do with any public perception that the ‘original trilogy’ is superior to the ‘prequels’. Sure, if your thinking is that way inclined, then you’ll probably find the nostalgia factor is off the charts. Lego Star Wars’ cheeky humour is present and accounted for, and it makes excellent use of the source material. But the real reason Lego Star Wars II is a better game is because Traveller’s Tales have taken a great game and made it excellent.
Like its predecessor, Lego Star Wars II takes three movies of the Star Wars saga – A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi – and divides each one into six segments, creating 18 levels in total. Each level is based on an action-packed part of the saga. A few liberties have been taken, thanks to the structure of Episodes IV – VI, but for the most part you’ll be acting out famous scenes like the battle of Hoth in full Lego glory.
The game plays a little differently to the original in many ways. For a start, the lack of Jedi in the original trilogy means that more of a focus has been placed on ‘blaster’ characters. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of lightsaber action to be found, but there’s an increased focus on the regular characters, which is nice.
Additionally, while use of the Force will still be required for certain puzzles, all characters can now build Lego structures from piles of Lego that litter the environment. More than anything, this helps the game create the illusion of a Lego world. The Lego nature also helps the game to look excellent with minimal effort – the 360 version even sports a neat blurring effect that creates a sense of distance and perspective. It’s not hard to imagine this as Star Wars re-enacted with Lego.
Well, a rendition of Star Wars, at least. Anal fans will probably criticise Obi-Wan and Luke hopping in AT-STs in Mos Eisley. And it’s not just the gameplay; some of the cutscenes are told with liberty, and people who need to get out of their mother’s basement more will probably cringe at the fact that Greedo shoots first and that it’s ‘Hayden’s’ ghost that appears at the end. ‘Yub Yub’ is still intact, however.
But Lego Star Wars was never meant to be an accurate retelling of this generation’s Iliad. It’s meant to be parody: a cute take on the Star Wars universe with its tongue firmly in its cheek. And even more so than before, the game excels in this area. The humour is family friendly and laugh-out-loud funny, and Vader’s confession to Luke is one of the funniest moments of the game. If you loved Lego Star Wars for its humour, you’ll find a lot to like here.
One nice feature that has been heavily publicised is the create-a-character mode. You’ll get two custom characters to play with, and you can shape them in any way you see fit. You can be boring and create Darth Maul, or you can be cheeky and create Greedo Solo: he shoots first! There’s not actually a lot of variety to be found here, and it certainly doesn’t deserve all the attention it received, but it’s a fun distraction, nonetheless. You can only use the custom characters in ‘Free Play’, and they lose a little bit of their purpose in that mode.
Additionally, if you have a completed save game from Lego Star Wars, you can use those unlocked characters in ‘Free Play’ in Lego Star Wars II. 360 owners will apparently be able to purchase the extra characters sometime soon for roughly 250 MS points.
There is, however, one flaw with Lego Star Wars II: it’s a lot harder. Whoever said that Lego Star Wars was too easy needs to be taken out and shot. Not only is Lego Star Wars II harder (without turning on adaptive difficulty), it borders on ridiculous at times. The lazy, hung-over Sunday afternoon game is no more. Yes, you still get unlimited lives, but the onslaught of enemies is at times seemingly never-ending, and the loss of precious studs at every death will surely drive many insane. This is especially nasty when there are two sets of ‘True Jedi’ status to achieve: one for ‘Story’ mode and one for ‘Free Play’ mode. The 360 version also has achievements for completing a level without losing a life, and those that obtain them will certainly feel a sense of achievement. Lego Star Wars II is hard, make no mistake about it. Younger players are bound to be frustrated.
However, the general package is utterly enjoyable. It makes use of an excellent license that most people love; it has lots of content that will take a while to finish completely; and it provides new additions to the excellent gameplay from the original. With great graphics and sound, excellent presentation, and a cheeky sense of humour, Lego Star Wars II is a winner. If you’re a fan of Star Wars or good games in general, you should go purchase this immediately if you haven’t done so already. It comes recommended without hesitation.