The “Star Wars” saga is no stranger to second drafts. George Lucas famously rereleased the original trilogy, adding new scenes and perhapsan excessive amount of special effects. Given that history, it’s no surprise that Traveller’s Tales took a second stab at the “Lego Star Wars” franchise.
The games put the studio on the map, and with “Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga,” the developers hope to impress fans again. The project is a total reboot of the series, and as I mentioned before, this isn’t your father’s video game. The modern visuals and gameplay are light years ahead of the original “Lego Star Wars: The Video Game” that was released in 2005.
NINE FILMS COVERED IN ONE GAME
Comparing the two, the differences are evident between the simplistic older work and shiny paint of the new one. “The Skywalker Saga” goes over the three trilogies and players can tackle them in any order, but they must start from the first movies and unlock the subsequent ones. Choosing a film locks players into that adventure though they can replay previous episodes that they’ve completed. The format itself is restrictive especially for those who want to explore “a galaxy far, far away” on the outset.
Those who buckle down and run through each film will find a smart reinvention of the series. Traveller’s Tales updated the combat, which emphasizes more combos allowing players to juggle enemies or attack from different angles. When it comes to ranged combat, players will discover a cover-based system comparable to “Gears of War.” Characters can hide behind walls and corners and aim down sights to defeat the hordes of droids or Stormtroopers.
The one improvement that really shines is the space combat, which lets players fly starships in a 3D environment. It’s simple and easy to pick but it works incredibly well without being burdensome. The arcadelike handling of the ships makes dog fights fun even if they are chaotic.
These gameplay changes are welcomed, but like a lot of the game, it doesn’t feel as polished as it should be. The melee combat is more mushy than precise while the ranged combat is slightly better. That will be fine for kids, but players looking for crisp and responsive battles will be disappointed.
NINE CLASSES AND SOME RPG ELEMENTS
The other change comes in how “The Skywalker Saga” divides the huge cast into nine classes that have their own traits and progression systems. Jedis wield lightsabers and have Force powers but they don’t have grappling hooks to reach high areas as heroes do. Bounty hunters rely on ranged attacks and have the ability to destroy gold objects while protocol droids are important in discovering side quests because they understand the numerous languages of the NPCs milling about the world. They can also access out-of-the-way areas.
Aside from these core components, the big change in “The Skywalker Saga” is the level design. The campaign is more open-ended as players are given the freedom to roam hub worlds until they reach a spot for story mission. These maps covering areas such as Mos Eisley or Coruscant are huge and filled with the Kyber Bricks that are key to the game’s character progression.
Over the course of the nine movies, players will collect these special bricks, which are used to upgrade protagonists’ melee or ranged attacks. They can also be used to give more health to heroes or upgrade class-specific abilities. Whatever the case, these Kyber Bricks are as valuable as gold and they’re what players will be hunting for when they’re not running through the movie campaigns. The perks that can be bought are well worth it for completionists.
In addition to giving players more to do, these hub worlds, their activities and background characters, provide more depth to the adventure. Players will run across side quests, where they’ll escort a droid named Gronky or they’ll help worn-out droids get an oil bath on Tatooine. These stories aren’t exactly canon but they add texture to an enormous world. It’s also notable that some of these diversions are persistent through the episodes, so if players missed a Kyber Brick quest in Coruscant, they can pick it up in another chapter.
HUMOR THAT FANS WILL APPRECIATE
With nine “Star War” films in the rearview mirror, “The Skywalker Saga” acts almost like a modern retrospective on the series. The prequels that were panned initially have grown on fans, developing their own meme culture which the game exploits as Obi-Wan never misses a chance to say “Hello there!” or take the high ground.
That brings up the final big change between “The Skywalker Saga” and the original “Lego Star Wars” games, and that’s the voice acting. The older games lacked that element and because of that Traveller’s Tales had to be creative in how they conveyed important scenes. This led to several humorous moments that helped establish an identity for this franchise. It was less serious than previous “Star Wars” games, taking a more tongue-in-cheek approach.
That’s lost with a voice-acted “Lego Star Wars.” The comedy is different and relies more on random slapstick and clever jokes that acknowledge a universe outside “Star Wars.” A particularly good one was Qui-Gon Jinn mentioning he had a particular set of skills, the character originally played by Liam Neeson referenced the Liam Neeson film “Taken.” The game also highlights famous quotes that have emerged with a life of their own.
“The Skywalker Saga” shines here and there with clever writing, but the best part about the campaign is how it breezes through four decades of “Star Wars” content at a nimble pace, something that can’t be said for all the films. The Lego interpretation makes the story — even the dark parts — family-friendly while keeping to the overall gist of the saga, showing the rise and fall of Anakin, the redemption arc focused on Luke Skywalker and the fun but messy finale starring Rey. The final two films are also Lego-fied for the first time.
The game has tons of content that will keep “Star War” fans busy as they hunt for collectibles, but again, it’s not perfect. “The Skywalker Saga” still has bugs, some frustrating quests and an updated but imprecise combat system that holds it back from being great.
‘Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’
3 stars out of 4
Platform: Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 6, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Rating: Everyone 10 and up