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LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy Review

Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: LucasArts
Release Date: September 12, 2006 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2, Xbox and Xbox 360

I stopped questioning why LEGO with Star Wars was a great combination when I started to like peanut butter with pickles and pizza with milk. Traveler’s Tales and LucasArts put together a wildly popular adventure with the original LEGO Star Wars game, which took Episodes I, II, and III and mixed wacky LEGO-inspired humor with accessible gameplay. For the most part, I avoided the original game, labeling it as a “kiddy game.” With LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, I realize my mistake and will be picking up the original as soon as possible–LEGO and Star Wars go together like cake with icing, pizza with cheese, brownies with nuts…well, unless you’re allergic to nuts.

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LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy isn’t a sequel, but it takes you through the original Star Wars trilogy, composed of Episodes IV, V, and VI. Those three classic films are the bread and butter of the franchise (yes, I promise I’ll stop talking about pairs from here on out). Traveler’s Tales did an absolutely amazing job recreating the films and telling the stories from each film in LEGO Star Wars II. You’ll live through all of the memorable scenes, like the Death Star trench pursuit in Episode IV, the betrayal at Bespin in Episode V, and the chaos with Jabba the Hutt at the Sarlacc Pit in Episode VI. They even do it all authentic–Han shoots Greedo first in the Mos Eisley Cantina! That’s what I’m talkin’ about, Traveler’s Tales!

Each of the 18 story-based levels features a lot of shooting, things blowing up, and in true LEGO fashion, putting things together to solve puzzles, make switches and vehicles, and all sorts of other items. The creativity that is shown here is impressive, and the level design is excellent. The boys at Traveler’s Tales definitely deserve a pat on the back for almost all of these levels. Though some of them tend to drag on a bit–especially some of the last few, which are much longer and more difficult than those in Episode IV–they’re all worth playing through and beating LEGO Star Wars II shouldn’t take even the slowest gamer more than 10 hours to complete.

Of course, beating the game and finding all of its seemingly-endless secrets are two different things. For those of you looking for some replay value, you’ve come to the right place. Each of LEGO Star Wars II’s levels contains 10 capsules that unlock ships that you can view outside of the game’s main hub. Levels also contain hundreds of little LEGO nuts that act as currency, and collecting enough of them unlocks a “True Jedi” rank for each level in both Story and Free Play modes. On top of all of that, you can find elusive Red Bricks that unlock cheats and secrets. I’d estimate that it would take a gamer about 30 hours to find and unlock everything this game has to offer–and it offers everything. I mean, seriously, you can play as some of the most popular characters (Boba Fett, Vader) or some of the more obscure ones (Bossk, anyone?).

The gameplay in LEGO Star Wars II features a lot of puzzle-solving but also a lot of action. The puzzle-solving elements can range from very simple to extremely clever, but not at one point are the puzzles cheap or impossible to figure out–usually I just wasn’t looking everywhere or shooting enough. In fact, in almost every puzzle, you have to destroy something in order to build something else. Near the end of the game, if I was stuck, I started shooting things and that seemed to solve my problems. I thought this was nice, since some of the younger players will inevitably get stuck and start shooting things at random.

The action isn’t quite as impressive, but it isn’t bad, either. Shooting and gunplay show a little bit of LEGO Star Wars II’s average side–targeting isn’t very dependable, and there are far too many times where I felt overpowered. There are also too many respawns for enemies and too many enemies appear from off-screen and off-camera, meaning a lot of damage can be done before you even see enemies. Dying is extremely annoying in this game! It causes you to lose some of your LEGO nuts and hence some of that progress towards a True Jedi ranking, and exempts you from those elusive “Unbreakable” Xbox 360 Achievements unlocked for winning each level without dying. I felt taunted when I’d get shot from off-screen and I’d watch my little LEGO Han Solo explode into a thousand LEGO nuts. Still, it is always fun to clear out rooms of Stormtroopers and fighting bosses like Darth Vader, the Emperor, and that annoying spy with the goggles and snout in Mos Eisley.

Shooting levels make up about four of those 18 Story missions, and they range from being very fun to very annoying. Fun levels include the Death Star level at the end of Episode IV and the Hoth battle at the start of Episode V…but after those two, prepare for some of the most excruciating missions in the game. Don’t even get me started on the Episode V Asteroid Fields or the Speeder Bike level in Episode VI. In short, they were two of my least favorites.

Visually, LEGO Star Wars II isn’t as boring and blocky as you might expect. It’s actually quite colorful and the visual charm goes quite well with the story. Nice touches like explosions and particle effects that send LEGO pieces flying everywhere make this game, at the very least, a pleasant sight. My favorite note on presentation is the lack of voice acting–it’s appropriate and fits the game’s humor very, very well. I’m glad that Traveler’s Tales skipped voice acting, because it saves what would inevitably be an endless bashing on bad voice acting and stupid dialogue. The sound effects are also appropriate, and you’ll hear every blaster and light saber sound effect conceivable before the game’s over. Last of all, one can’t forget the all-too-memorable John Williams score that heartily picks up when the action picks up.

If you get bored playing alone, LEGO Star Wars II has a fantastic pick-up-and-play cooperative mode that allows a second player to jump into the action at any time. This co-op mode makes each level much easier and even makes the most annoying flying missions tolerable. It’s not a big disappointment that there isn’t Xbox Live gameplay or competitive multiplayer, so I’m not complaining–the co-op mode works great, feels great, and is good enough for me.

LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy isn’t just a kid’s game. To discredit it as such would be a sin for any Star Wars fan. If anything, it’s the perfect throwback to all of the old memories and memorable scenes of the original Star Wars classics. LEGO Star Wars II isn’t perfect–the gunplay is a little frustrating and some of the levels had me cursing at the TV–but it’s a fun game that people of all ages can enjoy. Parents, there’s not a better way to get your children into the greatest trilogy in film history.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 8.3
Written by Cliff Review Guide