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Game Review

Tag-team between heroes.

Break things down to their LEGO block basics and build something new.

Solve environmental puzzles.

Collect piles of floating studs.

Chuckle.

These are all standard activities that have been part of the LEGO game franchise's equation since seemingly the dawn of time. There may be some people out there who have grown bored with that style of play. But I suspect those folks may kick puppies, too. For the rest of us, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers some new interconnecting polypropylene horizons to explore.

"This is a New Day, A New Beginning"

As the title suggests, LEGO is swooping back into the rebooted Star Wars realm thirty years after Han, Luke and Leia successfully led the rebellion against Darth Vader and the Empire. And if you're one of the, uh, 15 people who haven't seen the newest Star Wars movie, the story follows new heroes Rey, Finn and Poe as they join forces with the good guys and stand up against the evil First Order.

As would be expected in a LEGO title, the eight- to ten-hour game story isn't exactly the same as the film. This plasticized reenactment tracks really well with the cinematic tale, but it sometimes swoops off in lots of cleaver ways with tons of giggles and goofs woven in. The original cast members have recorded many new lines to blend in with dialogue from the movie. And that adds running jokes and silly sight gags that make even the most solemn movie moments less heavy. (Yes, that includes the big spoiler moment that shall not be mentioned.)

If it Ain't Broke, Break It

Gameplay wise, things stay pretty close to the standard LEGO game template. The controls are very intuitive and kid-friendly. And just about everything can be taken apart, brick by brick.

There are generally two characters in any given challenge. If you're playing a single-player game, you can simply switch between the two. But LEGO games are generally designed with co-op fun in mind, and The Force Awakens sticks to that mold. And, of course, each character has their own skill sets or tools that are vital to solving a block-your-path puzzle or other in-scene conundrum.

The heroine Rey, for instance, is the super-athletic sort who can platform up to places that others can't, and she can use her staff as a lever. The new robot BB-8 has the ability to jack into any electrical plug or input and move platforms and other objects. Old favorite characters such as Han Solo and Chewbacca show up, too. In Han's case he controls a handy grapple hook, and Chewy comes armed with grenades and explosives that can destroy and break down certain structures. The game always gives you obvious clues as to whose abilities work best where and what might help you keep moving forward.

The breaking up and rebuilding of things is one area where this newest LEGO game shakes things up just a bit. Those typical block-building puzzles no longer revolve around building just one object. Instead, a quick scope of the area might indicate several possible places where you can use your pile of blocks, and perhaps a couple different objects you could build as a puzzle solution. Other cases require building objects in the right order and then smashing each down to build the next. It's a new twist that adds a little think-this-through dimension to the mix.

Blast Them, You Will

The second gameplay shake-up involves a bit of cover-shooting this go 'round. In certain areas, characters can duck behind buildings or low walls from which they can take aim with their blaster or toss a grenade. This addition does add a very light Gears of War shooter feel to some segments. But it's not a heavy or messy dose of trigger-pulling. Stormtrooper opponents, for instance, simply turn red after a few zaps before breaking into their LEGO block basics. Likewise, the game's flying sections—involving open-air and on-rails dogfights—zip around through asteroid fields and the like, gunning down and breaking up TIE fighters.

There are even several side-quest levels that can be unlocked and played through that expand on the events from the film. These involve some baddie-blasting and monster zapping too, such as a level that shows Han and Chewy taking on sharp-toothed and tentacled Rathtars. But, again, these types of battle quests aren't scary or overly violent. Instead they're more of an action-adventure side-scene designed to give Star Wars fans a bit of fun backstory.

If anything, the worst that can be said about The Force Awakens is that it might have a few segments or puzzles that could be a bit tough for some of the smaller Jedi trainees. And that could require some encouraging "The force is strong with this one" assistance from Mom or Dad. But that just means there's more outstanding parent-and-kid bonding possibilities just a button crunch away.

Yep, there's a certain familiarity to what you do in a LEGO franchise game. They've been around long enough that you know what to expect, what to look for and what to do. And you know what? That's all just hunky-dory. Because somehow the gamemakers at TT Games always know how to keep the familiar fun fresh and the potential mess mopped up. Which makes venturing together to a galaxy far, far away worth the familiar trip.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

E10+

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, 3DS

Publisher

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Released

June 28, 2016

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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