I suppose my review of Lego Star Wars II should open with the admission that I like the original trilogy and wasn’t a big fan of the prequels. In fact, I thought Episode 3 was flat-out laughable and that Jar-Jar Binks’ creation was an insulting attempt to get kids as excited about Star Wars as their parents. With that said, I thought the first Lego Star Wars game was an absolute blast, even though it was based on the prequels and didn’t really offer anything innovative in the gameplay department.
With that background, this review of Lego Star Wars II will probably be glowing, right? Not entirely. Lego Star Wars II doesn’t diverge from the tried-and-true model of its predecessor, yet its reliance on revisiting levels is a frustrating reminder of how developers add length to their games. Likewise, its tongue-in-cheek humor is fun for fans of the original trilogy, but its humorous CG sequences can be a little too “insider-y.” The give and take doesn’t really matter, though, because at the end of the day, this is still a fun game.
Lego Star Wars II is essentially a gussied-up clone of the first game, with each of the three original movies divided into six chapters and split-screen co-op available so you and a friend (or child) can go through the story side by side. The game relies heavily on platforming elements such as jumping and lever-pulling, the only downfall being that the camera angle can be awkward enough that certain jumps can result in an accidental death or two because you don’t have a good view of how close you are to nailing the landing.
For the first six levels or so, the errant jumping and continual back-and-forth lever pulling is easy to overlook, primarily because the game overwhelms you with personality. It’s also easy at first to overlook how much each level requires revisiting it later via Free Play with a different character, who can access the dozens of areas that are otherwise locked and inaccessible in each chapter.
But after pushing through two movies’ worth of levels (12), the occasionally off-kilter camera angles grow frustrating, the stiff Jedi animations affect the gameplay flow one too many times, the clunky vehicle controls cause teeth grinding, and the repetition of entering a room only to discover that you need to enter another room to unlock a door grows tedious. The core game seems long enough, at about 10 hours not counting secret items and areas, so the artificial game lengthening feels unnecessarily harsh. Fortunately, once you unlock more characters and start replaying levels (amazingly, you will), the game improves due to the variety in abilities. Plus, you can create your own character for Free Play mode, which is more of a feature for kids than adults but is still a nice touch.
The thing is, many of the problems mentioned above were present in the first game as well, which underscores just how little seems to have changed. But while there are plenty of gamers out there who will rip Lego Star Wars II for not offering much innovation, I won’t be one of them. The game, warts and all, is still fun, even though it’s not groundbreaking. And, since the Star Wars films have now been exhausted for the Lego series, we don’t have to worry about being subjected to a drawn-out franchise that consists of multiple versions of essentially the same game (ahem, Madden NFL). Is Lego Star Wars II groundbreaking? No. Is it a dramatic improvement over the first one? No. Is it flawless? Absolutely not. But is it fun? Yes. Online co-op would’ve been a welcome addition, but even without it, Lego Star Wars II is a solid rental or game to play with kids. And, it’s far more entertaining than anything the prequels could’ve offered. Except maybe the death of Jar-Jar.
- Overall: 8
- It doesn’t offer anything innovative, but it’s good old-fashioned fun, which is something the Xbox 360 seems to be missing.
— Jonas Allen