Monday 14 March 2016

Some Thoughts on LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I've been meaning to make time to write my introductory piece since becoming a full-fledged member of the Talk Star Wars family, and to do so in a way that would leverage my expertise (such as it is) in my media of choice. Today, therefore, I'll be talking to the readers of both Emotionally14 and Talk Star Wars about video games. Specifically, in this case, I will be looking at the recently announced LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

First of all, I'll start by saying that I absolutely love the trailer. It does a wonderful job of recreating the teasers and trailers for the movie with that iconic Traveller's Tales sense of fun and LEGO sense of humour. With that said, I have some concerns. They're admittedly small, and please understand that I'd dearly love to be proven wrong on them, and for the game to be excellent (particularly as I will almost certainly be picking it up, and want my money to have been spent sensibly).

My main concern about the game is that of length. Historically, when a LEGO game has been based on a licensed property (and I'm talking standalone games, rather than the more recent LEGO Dimensions stuff), it tends to be based on multiple films. In fact, the first game of its ilk was LEGO Star Wars which covered the prequel movies in a single game. Since then we've tended to have more games that follow this pattern (such as the second game of the LEGO Star Wars series, as well as film series like Indiana Jones or Lord of the Rings). In all of these cases, the game was a single disc/download which encompassed a multitude of movies. If that wasn't the case, the scope of the subject matter was sufficiently broad so as to make it less of an issue, such as LEGO Marvel Superheroes which drew from more or less the entire comic book spectrum in terms of playable characters and such.

I will qualify at this point that I have yet to play LEGO Jurassic World or indeed the new LEGO Marvel game, although I have downloaded demos of them in order to give them a go. Nonetheless, I look at the announcement of a single-film tie-in game and find myself a little apprehensive at the possibility that it could be a really short experience. Now, I fully expect it to fall into "short but sweet" territory, and if they price it as such I'll be ultimately fine with it. However, if I see a £50 RRP anywhere near the game, it'll make me anxious indeed. However, there is a concern along these lines which actually makes me more anxious, and that's the polar opposite occurring.

I'm a big fan of LEGO City: Undercover on the Wii U. If you're not familiar, it's a Wii U exclusive which sends up all those classic 70s cop shows like Starsky and Hutch and stuff of that sort of type. However, one of the reasons it swiftly went on the trade-in pile was because once I'd finished the story mode, I found the idea of doing 100% of the game to be overly daunting. It had over 400 Gold Bricks to find! How was I ever supposed to start doing that in a big open world when I have so much to play on my backlog as it is? I had a similar issue with LEGO Marvel Superheroes, in point of fact. Although I got a sufficiently wide range of characters in order to play the game, the idea of unlocking all the characters put me right off. If LEGO Star Wars 4 (which it technically is at this point, as we had the Clone Wars tie-in game a few years ago) goes down the route of padding out too heavily, that might be worse!

Another thing that concerns me is that when figuring out how many LEGO games there have been, it would be easy to forget that there have been a total of twenty-four LEGO games developed just by Traveler's Tales over the years (if you include LEGO-created properties like Bionicle and Ninjago). Over the years, that has included three Star Wars games, three Batman games and two based on the works of Tolkien. Over the years, I've gone from loving the franchise to finding myself a bit burned out on them overall. Aside from the Star Wars saga (never really got into the third one), the Pirates of the Caribbean game is probably my favourite so far. The point, however, is that my favourite isn't one of the more recent ones, although LEGO Marvel was fun, and LEGO City: Undercover was enjoyable. Too much of a good thing can be a bit much, and what with them now getting into the augmented toys for games, it looks like LEGO will be a fixture in gaming for a long time.

In fact, thinking about the Dimensions model makes me even more apprehensive for the price point of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When they announced the price point for LEGO Dimensions, I remember very explicitly asking my gamer friends if they were serious. Considering that Disney Infinity's Star Wars starter kit runs for about £30 in a lot of retailers now, how do they still justify in excess of £80 for the Dimensions pack? Speaking of Infinity, is it possible that the presence of that game in the market will cause LEGO SW: TFA (I'm just going to abbreviate it now for ease) to lose sales? I hope not, there's room for both, but the reality is that some people find too much choice to be a hindrance. It's a point of view I'll never understand myself, but then that's just my personal preference.

To summarise, I will be fine with this game if it ends up being based on the single film, with a few odds and sods to do off the beaten path, at a price point more in line with budget gaming (for the UK, I guess that's about £24.99 or so, but mileage may vary). If that's not the case, let's see the game strike a balance between a decent volume of stuff that will keep players playing to 100% complete the game, without being completely off-putting for players. In short, let's have something of a decent length that's not overly padded out. The Force would be strong with that one.

Look, we know that there are certain things about this game that we won't have to worry about. It'll work well and look excellent. Traveller's Tales is an excellent developer with a proven track record of putting out well-functioning nicely-styled games, and they've clearly done very well out of it with good reason too! It's just that, well, I'd be remiss if I didn't say...I have a bad feeling about this...

Rob Wade
If you like the cut of Rob's gib regarding games and Star Wars, you can do worse than following him on Twitter @RobWadeVision

Edit: Apparently LEGO Jurassic World does actually cover more than just the fourth movie. Rob accepts his mistake and accordingly feels shame-faced.


  1. Lego Jurassic Park included Jurassic World, and the new Lego Marvel Avengers game follows Avengers 1, 2, Captain America 1 and 2, Iron Man 3, Thor 2. So, none of them have been based on single movies so far. I think this is the first example of this happening. But, the last Lego Star Wars games didn't feature the over-world that is utilized in later entries.

    Might be that they're aware they've not focused on a single entry before, and therefore push themselves to create something compelling, rather than sticking to their tried and true formula you've come to be burned out by.

    1. Just saw the edit.

      But yeah, the avengers ones are based on multiple films too :)

    2. Thank you for reading dude. I never said the Avengers one wasn't based on multiple films, and even qualified that I hadn't played it so as not to speak with authority on something of which I know very little. However, I suppose it's implied in the sentence that I could be saying that Avengers is based on a single movie by mentioning it in the same paragraph as Force Awakens being a single movie. I only meant to point out that even if Avengers was based on a single film, the subject matter is broad enough that they could tack on as much as they wanted pretty easily.

      You raise an interesting question as well. If LEGO Star Wars TFA has an over-world, will it be Jakku or the Resistance base?