GameCentral plays the eagerly awaited new Skywalker Saga and what may be the most comprehensive Star Wars adventure yet – Lego or otherwise.
There was a time, not so long ago in this very galaxy, when there used to be two or three new Lego games released every year. The quality and quantity lasted much longer than you might expect but eventually it all became too much and, accelerated by the collapse of Lego Dimensions and the toys to life boom, suddenly it went from too many Lego games to not enough. As such, it’s now three years since the last Lego release (the dire The Lego Movie 2 Videogame) and six years since the last Star Wars one (the single movie The Force Awakens tie-in).
There are generally two things that everyone agrees on with Lego games, the first being that they’re a lot more fun than you’d expect and almost the only multiformat couch co-op game that can be played by anyone, no matter their age or video game experience. The second is that they’re always full of bugs and that’s just something you have to put up with, because they’re being knocked out at such a fast rate (and allegedly creating poor working conditions as a result).
The big hope with The Skywalker Saga is that the bug issue will have been resolved, as British developer Traveller’s Tales has had plenty of time for this one, even if it does seem to contain an extraordinary amount of content – that must have been a nightmare to bug test. Not only are all nine numbered sequels included but there are over 300 characters, over 50 vehicles, and open world hubs based on over a dozen different planets.
We were given the chance to play, via streaming, the first two story missions of A New Hope, including a tour around the open world hub for Tatooine. Everyone knows how the movie opens and this is the third time it’s been recreated in a Lego video game, although The Skywalker Saga is a completely new title with much more complex graphics – to the point where each story level is now made completely out of virtual Lego bricks.
The hub worlds are still the original mix of photorealistic scenery and Lego brick foreground objects, but unless you want the game to take another three years to make that seems a reasonable compromise. The first thing you notice about starting a story level though is not so much the quality of the graphics, as the fact that the game camera is now much more zoomed in, to an almost over-the-shoulder style perspective, rather than the pseudo-isometric style of the earlier games.
The Skywalker Saga is doing its upmost to look and act like a proper game with the ranged combat involving not just a cover system but the ability to recognise headshots. Melee combat, including lightsaber combat, has light and heavy attacks and its own combo meter, encouraging you to switch up attacks and not just button mash.
The Lego games always had more complex puzzles than most adult games (even if they do largely give the solution away), so combined with that and some light platforming you quickly begin to realise that if the Lego element was removed this would easily be one of the best, and certainly most comprehensive, Star Wars games of all time.
The first level is set aboard the Tantive IV and has you controlling Princess Leia, accompanied by Captain Antilles. As usual, if you don’t have someone helping out in co-op (which we didn’t in the preview but apparently it’s still split-screen) you can switch between the other character whenever you want. This is useful when they have different weapons or skills but while Leia and Captain Antilles are pretty similar the level shifts focus halfway through to give you control of C-3P0 and R2-D2.
R2-D2 can’t build because, obviously, he hasn’t got any arms, but he can interface with computers to open doors and the like, which only a few types of droid can do. C-3P0 also isn’t much for fighting but his linguistic skills make him vital for understanding side quests from aliens on the Tatooine hub world. In the story mission he’s also the only one that can activate a turret to shoot stormtroopers, who thought they were safe behind a screen (we’re still trying to decide if that’s something he’d really do or not but based on a deleted scene from Empire Strikes Back we think he probably would).
The Skywalker Saga is a mechanically more complex game than any of the previous Lego titles but one of the main appeals, beyond the co-op, is the humour. 90% of it is still just pratfalls and other low brow physical comedy but there are proper gags too, such as Darth Vader getting embarrassed because his lightsaber is stuck in a door he was trying to cut open.
Stormtroopers till take breaks in hot tubs when they think no-one’s looking and we’re curious to see if Traveller’s Tales will poke fun at the various controversies surrounding the latter two sequel trilogy films, because they usually do.
Completing the initial story mission gets you to Tatooine, where you can spend Lego bricks, which you both earn and find, to unlock new abilities in either the general section that applies to all characters or the more specific skill trees for major characters. We were advised to unlock faster movement first though, to get around more quickly.
The hub works similarly to previous games, in that it’s filled with smaller side quests and enemies, and you can spend as much time as you like in it, activating the story mission markers as and when you want. The Tatooine hub is particularly large though, with various vehicles – from speeders to banthas – available to get you around and all sorts of characters offering side quests, tips, or just a quick hello.
The final story mission we were able to play was fixing up the Millennium Falcon at Docking Bay 94, which involves not just puzzle-solving and exploration but setting up traps for stormtroopers that keep arriving through the entrances at the back. Some piles of Lego bricks can be built into one of two different things (a gun turret or a stun trap across the entrance), with the previous level offering similar choices that lead to slightly different paths through the level.
This is also a chance to try out Ben Kenobi’s lightsaber skills and while it’s a bit disconcerting that it doesn’t instakill anyone it touches his telekinetic abilities are a lot of fun and there are plenty of objects sitting around waiting to be picked up and thrown at enemies.
There’s a lot more to the game that we haven’t been able to get hands-on with yet, including space combat which also features ad hoc elements like Star Destroyers suddenly turning up and unique bounty hunter contracts.
Rogue One, Solo, and The Mandalorian are represented but primarily via DLC character packs that are, surprisingly, not that expensive. We did notice that Mando’s ship the Razor Crest is one of the unlockable vehicles though, so you should expect at least some references to things outside of the core movies.
In terms of bugs, we didn’t see a single one. Our only technical concern now is that possibly the camera gets a bit confused at times, although that may have been more due to hiccups brought on by the streaming. The only other negative is that some of the voiceover impressions aren’t very good, although they do seem to have got Ade Edmondson in to reprise his role from The Last Jedi.
Overall, this not only looks like being worth the wait but is clearly in with a shot of being the best Lego game ever. It may not be the best Star Wars game, but it certainly seems like it’s going to be up there amongst the best. Considering its main audience is people that like Lego, Star Wars, and/or couch co-op this should end up being one of the feel good stories of the year. You know, unlike the way the actual Skywalker saga ended…
Formats: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Release Date: 5th April 2022
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