I must confess that I’m hardly a super devoted fan of the Star Wars movies. In fact, I didn’t even watch one of them until I was into my teens, so I don’t have the same strong connection to the source material that a lot of people who saw the movies in their childhoods do. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them just fine (the good ones, anyway), and I’ve enjoyed the recent movies in the franchise since Disney brought the much vaunted space opera on board. I must admit though that the original trilogy of movies is the one I personally enjoy the most, and thankfully, this is the one that Lego Star Wars II is devoted to.
The original Lego Star Wars came out in 2005 and focused solely on the prequel Star Wars trilogy of Episodes I to III. Though I don’t hate that trilogy with the same level of vitriol as others do (although rest assured, I do absolutely hate Episode II with all my vigour), I knew I wouldn’t be invested enough to play through its story mode, so I gave the game a miss. However, when it was announced that Lego Star Wars II was going to include the original trilogy, I was motivated enough to pick it up for my PS2, and I was very happy that I did.
Lego Star Wars II allows you to play through the original Star Wars trilogy and uses real music and sound effects from said movies to recreate the moments you loved. As the Lego theme would suggest, the game is more about wacky Lego building fun and collecting items rather than being a stern test of gaming acumen, with it being quite literally impossible to die in a level. You are punished for losing all your hearts or falling off the stage, however, as every time that happens, you will lose the precious Lego studs that you have collected throughout the level. Seeing as you will need to hold on to these if you want to pass each level with a “True Jedi” rating, there’s an added impetus for more serious players to avoid death; meanwhile, less skilled players can still get to the end of a level and advance the story.
Most levels will see a number of characters in your party, and you will have to switch between them so that you can complete different types of objectives. For instance, characters who can use the Force, like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, will be able to move pieces of Lego from one part of the stage to the other so that other characters, like C-3PO, can traverse previously unreachable areas and do useful things like opening doors so that you can move on to the next section of the level. This brings variety to the gameplay and also adds an element of puzzle solving to some of the levels (although the puzzles aren’t so overly complicated to prevent less skilled players from working them out).
In a nice addition, as well as the story mode, you can also play each level in Free Play mode, which allows you to select characters you have unlocked to access previously inaccessible areas. Some of the characters you can unlock include Darth Sidious and the ever popular bounty hunter Boba Fett (although, I’ll confess to never quite getting the fuss with him, in all honesty). In a nice touch, the hub world is the Mos Eisley cantina (which has that familiar tune playing in the background), and any characters you have unlocked will be milling around with one another within the cantina, and you can select them to explore the hub world before going into a level. Free Play mode was probably where I had most of my fun in the game as the ability to go back and try levels with different combinations of characters provides lots of enjoyment and really elongates the game’s length in an organic and entertaining way.
Lego Star Wars II is probably not the game that a hardened video game enthusiast looking for a difficult challenge is going to appreciate, but more relaxed and younger players will likely enjoy it a lot more. It’s a game that is predominantly about having wacky fun in the recognisable surroundings of a much loved movie franchise. This isn’t a game you play for challenge but more one you play to just kick back and have some fun. Having Free Play mode certainly adds a bit of replay value to the proceedings, and I enjoyed coming back to the game for the purposes of this article. If you like Star Wars and aren’t overly pretentious about less complicated and more family friendly games, then Lego Star Wars II is likely a game you’ll be able to have a good time with.