I love LEGO games. Despite nearing the age of 30, I’m a sucker for anything LEGO. I’ve played them all. The best and the worst (the LEGO games on PS Vita being the absolute worst) and so I like to think I’m in as good a position as anyone to pass judgement on anything LEGO-related. It may not be true, but it’s what I like to think.
With the announcement of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, I was quite excited. All nine movies in one game? Hell yes! My favourite LEGO games have always been the LEGO Star Wars entries so the idea of having everything in one package is great. Except it might not be.
Last week I was in Los Angeles for E3 2019 and I had an appointment to see LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga in action for myself and so I trotted through the crowds to the Warners Bros. booth to see what the fuss is all about.
See, this isn’t a simple remaster or release of every game thus far with some new content for the upcoming movie, but instead it’s a complete reworking. If you had high hopes of being able to run through the familiar levels that you first played over a decade ago, forget it. That’s not terrible, I suppose. While one part of me would happily pay full price for the old games to be remastered, another part of me would like something new and unseen. I guess I’m a hard man to please…
The demo that was played at the Warner Bros. E3 booth showed just a glimpse of what’s to come, but it was enough to see that this isn’t a traditional LEGO game. The demo started with a jaunt through space in the Millennium Falcon where random encounters are possible. You can choose whether to get stuck into a space-based dogfight or run away and find sanctuary on a nearby planet. The demo had us landing down on Tatooine during Return of the Jedi after running away from a pack of space wolves.
Touching down on Tatooine was quick and it wasn’t long before familiar brick-smashing and whimsical humour was shown off. The silliness that comes with any LEGO game is all present and account for but a few things stood out immediately. Instead of going through set levels with collectables to sweep up, the game takes place over a number of different open-world hubs across the planets that make up the Star War universe. It’s in these open-world areas that you’ll interact with other Star Wars characters, explore every nook and cranny for hidden treasures, initiate story missions, and take on optional side-quests. There’s plenty to do, then.
Combat has been given a shake up, too, with powerful combos now being possible. One thing I didn’t like to see during the combat was damage numbers. Anyone who has read this site for a while knows that I’m not a fan of seeing how many points my slaps do, and it just seems really out-of-place in a LEGO game. But whatever. I’m sure there’s an option to turn them off. If there isn’t, then bugger.
The presentation has also been overhauled. Instead of the traditional ‘LEGO view’ where you’re kind of looking down at an angle, The Skywalker Saga places the camera right behind the player character, much like God of War or Red Dead Redemption 2 or, during gunfights, Gears of War. I get it. The need for change is always there but is it always necessary? I’m not sure. Sometimes change can be detrimental and I fear that those who are like me will be put off by the way the game plays. I’m split on it, to be honest. I suppose with more time I’d become a little more accustomed to it, but seeing it in the demo didn’t get me uber-excited.
While some things have changed, others have remained consistent. The trademark LEGO humour is still in play and characters still have special abilities, so you’ll still be flicking through the roster to solve puzzles and pass through certain sections. There’s still a huge roster of characters to choose from, once you’ve unlocked them of course, and many, many collectables. On one hand it’s your standard LEGO game, on the other it’s a complete re-imagining of what a LEGO game can be. It’s a shift to a more mature experience that’ll keep older players engaged while keeping the younger hands busy.
The big selling point this time around is the fact that there’s so much to see and do across all nine films and over 20 planets. That’s a lot of play for your money, and that’s something I can always get behind.
Coming out of the E3 2019 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga demo, I had mixed feelings. I’m a traditionalist and sentimental. The idea of being able to play my favourite games again is compelling. The idea of playing them in a new way with new technology is exciting. But playing them in a way I’m not completely familiar with is uncomfortable. I’ve no doubt The Skywalker Saga will be a resounding success – it’s Star Wars and LEGO, it cannot fail – but I’m wary that when the time comes, I’ll need to forget about my childhood memories of LEGO Star Wars on the PS2 and my crappy 19-inch bedroom TV.