LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy Review

By Frank Ling, GN Senior Writer

In 2005, LEGO and Lucas Arts combined forces to produce the galaxy’s first LEGO video game, based on the first three Star Wars prequels—episodes I, II and III. The game was heralded for its unique and entertaining gameplay, and the "super cute" Star Wars LEGO characters. Although LSW was mainly directed at kids, the surprise came when the title turned out to be a game that appealed to the general gamer as well; the production from Lucas Arts quickly became one of the most popular games of 2005. But while the experience of a LEGO Star Wars game was still fresh in the minds of gamers, the question quickly came to many: “Are they ever going to make a game based on the original trilogy—episodes IV,V, and VI?”

Now, a year later, Lucas has given the answer of “yes,” with the release of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. Will this second title be a success, or will it smell like a pile of old Bantha droppings? Get into your X-wing fighter and get set to charge up your laser cannons, because we’re revving up for a trip to Yarvin IV to see if this game is worthy of another Alliance Medal of Honor, or not.

LSW2: TOT follows in the tradition of its predecessor by allowing gamers to return to the Star Wars universe via the LEGO world. The characters in the game, surroundings, objects, planets, spaceships, and virtually everything you remember in the Star Wars movies are transformed into their LEGO equivalents. Those who will be experiencing this bizzaro world of Star Wars will be totally floored by the cute LEGO counterparts in this title. But while cute is nice, the big question is whether the gameplay is fun. You can only go on cute for so long, after all.

As you start the game, you are placed in one of the most famous scenes in the film series—the cantina at Mos Eisley. From this location, you’ll be able to select which Star Wars episode you wish to play. Since I am labeled the resident Star Wars geek around here, my obvious first choice was to enter Episode IV, A New Hope. Doors to Episodes V and VI are also available, with each installment having a large number of sub chapters and missions to play through.

You’ll be able to play as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Obi Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett, R2D2, C3PO and a host of other characters. Each LEGO figure has its own set of abilities and fighting skills. In the case of Luke, Han and Leia, they have LEGO blasters at their sides, while Obi Wan has the ability to use the Force and wield his light saber. Luke, in the later episodes as a Jedi Master, is also able to use the Force.

The Force can be used to assemble LEGO blocks into useful objects, levitate enemies in the air and cause them to explode into little LEGO parts, move distant objects and cause memory loss in other characters. In addition to weapons and the Force, the characters also have a melee attack in which the can attack with their weapons. Depending on what mission you are on, you’ll have a party of characters of 2 to 5 LEGO people. You have the ability to switch from person to person in order to perform certain tasks or functions. Each character also has the ability to wear disguises at special stations found in the game. These disguises serve to fool identification kiosks into granting you entry in restricted areas. When a disguise is put on, the character assumes the abilities and skills of that character.

The game setup for each mission is a combination of action, puzzle solving, opening access panels, manipulating objects and cut scenes which parody the most memorable moments in the films. As an example, the opening of Episode IV starts with Princess Leia’s starship being pursued by the Republic’s huge Imperial Star Destroyer. The scene is true to form and mimics the fly bys of the two spacecraft, except everything is made out of LEGO blocks. While this sounds rather ridiculous on first hearing, the effect is totally entertaining and novel. As each chapter unveiled, I was constantly delighted with the art production and unique ways in which the developers of the game were able to incorporate the Star Wars theme into a LEGO world. As stated before, each episode is broken down into various sub chapters which, in turn, follows the plot of the movie.

Each sub-chapter that you complete successfully will open the next sub-chapter for play. One sore point about the game setup is the fact that there are no save points during each level. Some levels are quite challenging and require a good deal of time to complete. What happens if you need to shut down the game and leave in the middle of a mission? You lose all progress and must start again when you return. A few checkpoints or an option to have in-game save points would have been nice. A little of the Dark Side must have influenced the game designers on this point. Either that, or somebody used a Jedi mind trick on them.

LSW2 allows for two primary play scenarios, the Story mode and Free Play mode. Story mode takes you sequentially through the entire plot of the episode. In Free Play mode, you revisit the locations and can unlock and discover new secret areas that were unavailable during the first play through. A two player co-op is also available in the game.

As far as action is concerned, there is a space cruiser full of it. You’ll find yourself immersed in tasks such as fighting off hoards of squealing, pig-like Gammorean guards, tripping Imperial Walkers with tow cables in your snow speedster, and destroying everything you can find aboard the land crawler of the Jawas, and killing the terrifying Rancor monster. You’ll be picking up LEGO studs in order to buy things, search for secret mini-kit canisters, grapple, fight, fly and ride animals, vehicles and spacecraft.  It’s like having a virtual experience within the Star Wars movies. The authentic surroundings, plot and gaming experience are all first rate, especially if you are a dyed-in the-wool Star Wars fan. You’ll recognize many scenes in the original trilogy as you play through, as well—although some will be humorous. I chuckled and laughed at the humor injected into these segments. In one example, Darth Vader comes aboard the Death Star to inspect how construction progress is going. He steps off his Imperial shuttle, only to see a group of LEGO workers in the corner playing cards, laughing and taking naps. Classic.

The objectives on how to complete each mission is not always clear, and this will cause a little head banging for some. In Episode V, during the Hoth Battle segment, you think that your primary objective is to destroy all the spy droids and walkers, but it becomes painfully clear after 20 minutes that this isn’t the goal. Since there are never any beginning remarks on what your mission goal is, you may be playing a game segment for a long time until the answer dawns on you. But once the puzzle is solved, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to complete it. This puzzle feature of the game is great, but this lack of goal-direction was a little frustrating to me at times because of the nebulous direction in some of the levels. But in spite of this, these harder levels were satisfying once I figured out the solutions.

The graphics in LSW2 are excellent. The cutscenes are well rendered and true to the sequence of movie events, and everything seems to be running at a rock solid 60 frames per second. This fact was brought to light during the battle scene on Hoth. There were literally a hundred or more moving elements in this level, with explosions, special effects, lighting effects, smoke effects and particle effects all going on at the same time. I was astounded that all of this activity didn’t slow down the framerate one bit. The art production staff shows a tremendous amount of detail and care in designing this game and you’ll appreciate this effort in just the first few minutes of play. It’s a treat to see how each element in the game is translated into a LEGO object.

Sound is also a special treat, because the original music score of John Williams is used all throughout the game, with full orchestration. There are a few music-synthesized segments, but the majority of the score is done with film soundtrack music. As it was with the first LEGO Star Wars game, there is no spoken dialogue in LSW2. The characters grunt, sigh, laugh, mumble, breath loudly or make other verbal sounds, but they utter not a word. I was disappointed at this at first because it would have been great to hear some of the famous lines from the movies, but after a few hours of playing, I realized that this would have made the game less enjoyable. The way the characters interact without speech is amusing. Try shooting a few laser blasts at one of your characters, and you’ll understand.

There are an astonishing 99 levels in this title; that will keep you occupied for a good long time. The replay value comes in the form of retracing your steps on missions to find missing objects, improving your score, playing with a friend or opening secret areas. Everyone will have favorite scenes or chapters that they will want to play over again, so the replay value is very high.

The developers of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy have taken very serious steps in making this title not only entertaining for anyone who picks it up, but especially for the discriminating Star Wars fan who wants a game that is true to the original concept of the movies. The playful aspect of the game, as it deals with plot elements connected to the films, is funny, comical and adds quite a bit of charm to the entire concept. Although the objectives in any particular mission aren’t always clear, a little patience or a good game guide should get you through the harder areas. I had a great time with this game. It not only was fun to play, but it allowed me to revisit and experience the original Star Wars trilogy in a completely different way.

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is a winner, and deserves a second Alliance Medal of Honor. May the Force be with you—always.


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