September 3, 2005

Lego Star Wars The Video Game

I realize I'm late to the party on this one (it came out March 29, 2005), but Lego's Star Wars: The Video Game is such a fun and awesome game that I felt compelled to do a quick review. This one brings out the dorky techno-nerd in me. Lego Star Wars offers a kind of off-kilter immersion in the world of the three Star Wars prequels. You will feel at moments as if you are in one the movies. True fans of the series will be amazed at the accuracy and attention to detail each of the levels provide. You will do almost everything that was "good" about the prequels. This entails things like not only being able to play against Darth Maul, the coolest new character in the whole prequel, in my opinion, but be him, as well.
I must compliment Lego on getting the subtleties of the actors' movements down to surprisingly nuanced imitations. The Qui-Gon Jinn "Lego figure" swings and moves pretty much like Liam Neeson did in The Phantom Menace.

But, as I've said, the attention to detail and subtlety is pretty remarkable, considering each character is a Lego version of the movie character. Playing as Yoda feels uncannily like what it must be like to be Yoda. When his lightsaber is drawn, the Lego Yoda spins around in a whirlwind of movement that pushes the limits of the Playstation 2 technology. When his lightsaber is off, he walks frustratingly slow, with a cane. That experience is but a very small example of one of many moments in this game that drop you right into the middle of various scenes from the prequels.

This scene from Attack of the Clones

is one of the coolest levels in the game:

It's not all adventuring--many of the missions involve space battles
and pod races as well.

Most of these are extremely difficult, and will probably take you more than a couple of attempts in order for you to make it through them.

Anakin's pod race from The Phantom Menace is one of those that'll make you throw the controller across the room in a fit of rage because it's so challenging. Some of these races and space battles feel like something from an arcade, while some of them remind me of old Genesis games like Subterrania.

In addition to the beautiful graphics, the game uses the same sound effects as used in the films. A huge part of any of the episodes, for me, has been the scores of John Williams. The movies would not be the same without his music. Many of the familiar themes are taken from each prequel and used throughout the game, adding a cinematic element.

On a side note, the first three or four times I rented this game, I couldn't get the it to load on my Playstation 2. I would keep getting the dreaded "disc read error" that occurs to users of the early SCPH-30001 Playstation 2 model, with a U serial number. I'd been having this problem from time to time when playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Newer games often don't load on the earliest Playstation 2s. To compound this issue (as far as playing Lego Star Wars is concerned), Lego Star Wars was made on a blue disc, blue being the hardest color for even the latest Playstation 2s to load. I came across this site which offers a step-by-step way to correct this error. It requires opening up the Playstation 2, so you'll void your warranty if you do it. Mine was old enough that the warranty period was long over. I followed each step, precisely, and can now play both blue discs and San Andreas with no problem.

Lego Star Wars: The Video Game is a tremendously fun game--fun if you pick up the controller and play for just a few minutes, or a couple of hours. Lego now needs to apply this concept to the original trilogy