LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

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Now I have earned all the trophies and 100% completed the game, I think I can provide a balanced opinion on this new game which brings together all 9 of the main Star Wars movies for the first time. This comes at a time where the most impressive Star Wars related content is the new Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ show, again, I’ll wait before I write about it here as I’m not going to jump to any knee-jerk conclusions based on three episodes. Anyway, the game…

The first thing to say is that it looks and sounds great on the PS5. The amount of detailed texturing on the characters is really nice to see and the lighting is superb. It’s a shame that on release the fucking game crashed a LOT. So frustrating especially as I was in Story Mode which is always the most tedious of playthrough choices, but it has to be done. You grin and bear the fact that half the things you discover on the levels cannot be used until you earn the option to do Freeplay and even then it’s not worth doing it until you get all the various character types and improve their abilities.

I played in Story Mode from Episode I through to Episode IX as quickly as sanely possible (aiming for ‘True Jedi’ where possible – collecting studs like a vacuum cleaner) without spoiling the enjoyment of the humour contained within the retelling of these over-told stories. Only in the first few episodes did it feel like money for old rope and I guess that was more to do with the crappy source material rather than any fault of the game developers – making Jar-Jar Binks any less irritating is a feat in itself and the rest is like polishing a turd. Apart from the unimpressive start, the story over all is very good and faithful to the canon while emphasizing some key points more than others just to stay engaging.

Then I went back around the levels – giving them one pass each – to get as many minikits and data cards as I could. I was pleased to get hold of the x2 stud multiplier data card very early on which helped with buying other data cards, characters and star ships, of which there are plenty to satisfy all fans. The most useful data card without a doubt is the one that gives you the ability to see markers for the other collectibles on the mini-map. The location map is essential for finding minikits and NPCs who give you missions, and with the detector switched on it will place symbols on the map to guide your way.

Only after I had bored of the story levels in freeplay did I turn to the various planets on the galaxy map and go to the various hubs such as Mos Eisley, the Jedi Temple at Yavin and the Rebel bases on Hoth and Crait. Here you will find characters who usually want you to find someone or something elsewhere on the map and bring it back or take it to a place, or to be protected from attack. Do this and they give you a character to purchase or a kyber brick – the kyber bricks are the ultimate collectible in the game. As you descend into an OCD brick collecting truffle-pig fugue state you realise that this gameplay is the core of the game. So if you don’t enjoy running around doing essentially very tedious tasks then stick to the story mode and forget about the rest of it. It can get truly tiresome.

There’s the usual type of side games like fun puzzles and races and some hidden areas. There’s also some good banter between characters who normally wouldn’t meet – for instance when Kylo Ren meets Darth Vader or adult Boba meets Jango Fett – and various references to memes. For example, the boss fights are introduced by on screen name plates featuring Aurebesh subtitles (I’m still not able to read this Star Wars typeface without a guide – not that much of a nerd) for example Darth Vader in Episode VI has the subtitle Loves the Dark Side, hates sand. There’s some great fan service in this game.

Some of the races are very frustrating especially after some of the timings were tweaked after the first big bug-fixing patch a few weeks ago which thankfully fixed most of the game crashes. Although quite fittingly, when I went to the Jedi Temple after 100% completion to pull a lever to mark the end of the game, it crashed. I said to myself ‘that kind of sums it all up’ and sighed.

One particular race, actually inside an Episode I level, was a nightmare – the launch-version time changed from 100 seconds (a piece of piss if I’d bothered to do it in Story Mode) to 40 seconds, and I found myself trying various different craft to get better than 42 seconds. I finally cracked it, but at that point it was all muscle-memory. By then I probably could’ve done it blindfolded in 41 seconds and did it bang on 40 seconds due to pure luck. Camera positioning on re-runs was uncontrollable and added to the madness. There’s also a few glider timed events in the hubs that cannot realistically be done until you max out your Scavenger character class gliding skill.

Upgrading character skills costs kyber bricks and apart from speeding up the movement, building, and the Scavenger skills, being able to bypass the Astromech puzzles and the other ‘keypads’ thankfully eradicated some of the repetition inherent in the game. I think the worst of it was actually in moving between parts of the galaxy map with your spacecraft entering hyperspace more times than you’d like and especially slow alarms if you are smuggling freight planet to planet and pirates or other enemy craft intercept you. I expected better on the PS5. Some of the ‘coming in to land’ animations are also like something from a PS3 game.

Talking of space, there are stud and kyber brick comets flating around and also some genuinely enjoyable space battles. Also after one of the two game patches so far, the number of randomly appearing capital ships (e.g. the Death Star) increased to 8. Once you’ve broken down the capital ship defences you are able to board them, take control and loot them for kyber bricks – again there are puzzles and hidden areas to find. I really enjoyed this part of the game, perhaps just because I was too familiar with the hubs and episode levels by then.

Once I had cleared out all the bricks from the planet hubs and space only then did I go back to collecting those minikits I had overlooked in the levels. Also at this point I bought all the rumours I could find alluding to their location or the level challenges (like ‘drop a droid on the Emperor’s head’) which I was leaving to chance until that point. I was flush with studs – having built the multiplier up to the maximum x3,840. Collecting studs becomes meaningless at this point.

So my final experience of the game was entering some free codes to get the Holiday Special character versions and replaying bits of the Episode levels, sometimes in Story Mode as it actually helps to do some of the challenges to limit yourself to the characters who should be their at that point in the saga, and chipping away at the final few bricks to get the 1,200 in the game. Sometimes I could drop out of a level after only a few minutes having got the final tick of three to indicate I’d earned the sixth and last kyber brick of the level. You get three bricks for True Jedi, one for completing the level, one for collecting all 6 minikits (and giving you a new mini-build version of an iconic spaceship) and the final one for 3 challenges. Simples.

There’s a load of PlayStation trophies along the way until finally the last two trophies unlock at 100% galaxy completion – all kyber bricks, characters and spaceships collected, side missions and level challenges completed, and maybe also skilling up all the character classes to the max. Then you can pop over to Yavin 4 and pull a certain lever to be thoroughly disappointed that this doesn’t open the door to a final hidden level. I used to love those hidden levels in the old Lego games. Also there’s no character customizer. Moan moan moan.

All in all I cannot hand on heart say that this is a perfect Star Wars game as some have suggested. Yes it is great to see it all brought together in one package and they’ve done a good job of not repeating old content, but the game is still full of frustrating glitches requiring reloads even if they’ve fixed most of the crashes. Also while there are a lot of side missions to accomplish full of easter eggs (for example on mission giver wants you to safely transport an ice-cream maker to a contact in Bespin – if you don’t know what this refers to then please Google it, it’s a cracker) there isn’t enough variety to make it super enjoyable. Once you’ve protected one Gonk droid from attack or been on one item gathering mission then that’s enough. I would’ve liked to see some proper storytelling within the side missions.

Given the long long wait for this game to finally arrive, I was hoping for something beyond a bigger version of the previous games which actually had some more unique storytelling or interesting build mechanics than the others. Instead building stuff is largely ignored in favour of an improved combat mechanic. Given that this is a Lego game, and the enduring popularity of Minecraft, I found that the most surprising aspect of the gameplay.

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

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