Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things. If that’s the case, then all Jedi should probably cancel their preorders for LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, since this dazzling new entry in Traveller’s Tales’ longrunning LEGO game series has brought both adventure and excitement by the plastic bucketload. With stunning set pieces cribbed from all nine mainline Star Wars films and a surprisingly vast number of iconic planet hubs to freely explore in between, The Skywalker Saga is a brick-breaking blockbuster executed with a goofy charm that had me feeling as happy as a droid in a hot oil bath.
In a dramatic departure from the zoomed out camera perspective of previous LEGO titles, The Skywalker Saga features a tighter, over-the-shoulder third-person view typical of the likes of Gears of War or Uncharted, and it brings along with it far greater control over your attacks. Lightsabers can be boomeranged and crates can be Force-pushed with satisfying precision, and a simple combo system allows you to launch enemies into the air for a juggling volley of saber swings with ease. Fighting as a Jedi or Sith might not have the depth of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but it’s nonetheless fast, fluid, and it feels fantastic.
If you’re controlling a character equipped with a blaster, you now have the option of taking cover behind walls and other objects to pick your foes off from afar, and can switch between cover positions with the tap of the button. (A similar cover-based mechanic was featured in 2016’s LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but only in specific sections of a level). I love the neat touch atop this system that you’re able to quickly rebuild destroyed cover (as can enemies), but outside of a couple of specific boss fights I hardly ever felt the need to actually shelter behind anything. In The Skywalker Saga, the combination of a constantly recharging health bar and the authentic inaccuracy of each Stormtrooper’s shots meant there was rarely any risk in taking a run and gun approach. I certainly still enjoyed the gunplay in The Skywalker Saga, but more for its flashy spectacle than its shallow attempts at strategy.
Not only does the new close-up perspective make you feel more engrossed in the action, it also leads to a greater appreciation of how realistically rendered each individual LEGO brick is. 2021’s Hot Wheels Unleashed set a new standard for high fidelity virtual plastic, and The Skywalker Saga certainly matches it down to every last plastic seam and textured hair piece, with the paint on minifigs chipping away convincingly after extended use as though they’re a much-loved toy. Absolutely every LEGO creation looks so uncannily true to life, that when you blast an immaculately assembled 1000-piece Tie Fighter out of the sky, you can almost hear the cries of anguish from the parent who spent their whole Sunday afternoon helping their kid build it.
The Farce Awakens
The LEGO games have always lent a Spaceballs-style silliness to their recreations of iconic Star Wars scenes and The Skywalker Saga is no different, consistently seeking out the lighter side of the Force in even the most somber of situations. Whether it’s Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader discussing the new Death Star while rows of Stormtroopers awkwardly topple over like dominos in the background, or a confused Darth Sidious accidentally issuing Order 67 instead of 66 and forcing all the clone troopers to spontaneously start disco dancing rather than commit mass Jedi genocide, The Skywalker Saga consistently finds a way to gently mock its source material with wonderfully absurd and hilarious results. Amazingly, even the events of The Rise of Skywalker are substantially more enjoyable when they’re deliberately ridiculous, as opposed to accidentally so.
It’s not just The Skywalker Saga’s sense of humour that kept me engaged, but its mission variety too. Though never quite as daring or inventive as 2021’s It Takes Two, the 45 main story levels constantly switch things up so that the action never grows stale. The Skywalker Saga is capable of delivering mindless carnage on a massive scale, like when The Battle of Naboo briefly blossoms into a thrilling game of tower defense, and you gleefully lob balls of energy from Gungan catapults to decimate hordes of Trade Federation droids and assault tanks. Yet it can also be more focused and cerebral, such as when Rey enters the mirror cave on Temple Island, and you carefully puppeteer her reflections in order to reach exit portal switches.
This is on top of the fan-pleasing standards, of course, and The Skywalker Saga does indeed feature levels designed around high-speed podracing, X-Wing trench runs and all the major lightsaber duels you’d expect. But even at its most familiar moments, the campaign is still a blast to play because it feels so smooth and is such an eye-popping sight to behold. The only occasional catch is that its strict adherence to a cinematic style of presentation can come across as a bit too rigid at times. In one of the boss fights against Kylo Ren, for instance, I’d whittled his health bar down to zero, yet the fight arbitrarily continued for another minute, all so I could button-mash my way through the remaining quicktime events.
Each story mission is connected by surprisingly sizeable hub areas situated on some 20-odd different planets, from the sandswept streets of Mos Eisley on Tatooine to the polished surfaces of Coruscant’s Financial District, and everywhere in between. These open areas are absolutely rife with hidden Kyber bricks to collect by solving various environmental puzzles, and while you do see some repeated challenges across the galaxy – stacking crates to reach Kyber bricks suspended in the air seems to be a popular task no matter which planet you’re on – there are plenty of other fun little surprises to stumble upon along the way. I particularly enjoyed the Lemmings-inspired challenge on Kamino that tasked me with adjusting a series of platforms to prevent a hapless clone from shuffling to his doom, or arranging a choir of Wookiees on Kashyyyk to angrily yawn a rendition of John Williams’ signature score.
Collected Kyber bricks serve as a currency that, in addition to studs, can be invested into upgrades – either core perks shared by all characters, or class specific enhancements. While many of the core upgrades seemed like no-brainers to me, such as widening the radius in which your character automatically hoovers up dropped studs or increasing the speed with which they build objects, the vast majority of class specific perks seemed unnecessary given that The Skywalker Saga’s difficulty level is already all too easy. What incentive is there to give bounty hunters the ability to spot enemies through walls when I can easily dispatch whoever is on the other side with a couple of blaster bolts, even if they get the jump on me?
While I primarily stayed on target and focused on the main mission path, once I had finished all the story missions I spent a few more hours revisiting my favourite locations and completing side missions to unlock additional characters, and then swapping them in and out of my touring party in order to utilise their unique abilities to solve specific problems. It’s during these moments, when you’re jetting from one solar system to the next and cruising down to a planet’s surface to run odd jobs for local townsfolk, that The Skywalker Saga starts to resemble some sort of adorable Mass Effect for minifigs. And if you get tired of exploring and action-platforming your way across the wealth of planets, you can always just pick your favourite starship and jet up into orbit for some impromptu dogfighting. There really is a staggering amount to do in The Skywalker Saga, and despite the fact I’ve spent over 20 hours with the game I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface – there are seemingly enough collectible LEGO vehicles and minifigs in here to populate several hundred letters to Santa.
Dagobah System Failure
The one Star Destroyer-sized blight on my experience with The Skywalker Saga was the bug I encountered that made progressing the story of the prequel trilogy beyond Attack of the Clones impossible. Playing on Xbox Series X, I experienced a crash while trying to launch a mission hunting for Jango Fett, and when I rebooted The Skywalker Saga that mission marker was gone from the map and menus with seemingly no way of retriggering it. Since you can hop in and out of each episode and play the three trilogies in any order, I was still able to complete Episodes IV through to IX on my original save, but I needed to create a new game in order to play through Episodes I to III, during which the game breaking bug was thankfully no longer present. (At the time of writing, the developer has told me they are working on a patch to prevent the issue.)
I also noticed some slight problems with The Skywalker Saga’s drop-in/drop-out local co-op mode. Across the nine episodes, I spent about half of it playing solo and the other with my son as a co-op partner. On balance, I had substantially more fun with a second player onboard and the comedic chaos it created, but the diminished field of view within the confines of the vertical split-screen did make combat feel a bit imprecise and exploration slightly more disorientating. Additionally, one player always seemed to get the rough end of the gaffi stick when it came to the story mode boss fights, relegated to the role of a comparatively impotent companion droid while the other player indulged in a spectacular lightsaber duel. At one stage in the climactic confrontation between Obi-Wan and Anakin on the molten surface of Mustafar, I spent a significant stretch as C-3PO stranded as a spectator on a hovering platform while all the action unfolded below. It left me feeling a bit C-3PO’d.
Source: IGN Video Games All