More than a few of the multimillion moviegoers who saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” this past winter noted how similar it felt to the original 1977 classic. Some grumbled about it, but the majority seemed to enjoy the fresh, semi-retelling of the decades old story.
The same often can be said for the steady stream of “Lego” games that take popular franchises and give them a family-friendly spin. The latest release, “Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” continues the trend while injecting more freshness than the series has seen in quite some time.
The grand formula remains the same. One or two players bash baddies and solve puzzles while collecting items and unlocking characters and vehicles, all in a Lego-ized version of the latest “Star Wars” film.
Several key additions elevate “The Force Awakens” above standard Lego game fare. For starters, the HUD graphics received long overdue enhancements. It’s nothing major, but it helps the game stand out right away.
It’s been awhile since a major gameplay element was infused into a “Lego” game, so the addition of third-person cover shooting situations feels like a breath of fresh air. These sequences focus the camera behind the player, allowing for better aiming than the normal, more distant angle.
Most levels feature these laser shootouts and often task players with light puzzle solving along the way. While the use of the left analog stick to aim feels strange, the mechanics themselves work just fine.
Starship battles are better than ever, too. Some are on rails, but most are in open air areas. They’re light years ahead of past “Lego” games’ dogfights thanks to a from-behind camera angle and improved controls.
Also new are multi-builds, which are building areas with several options that open new puzzle designs.
The campaign sustains itself surprisingly well. The 10 main levels never feel artificially padded, and six all-new side missions help fill out more of the “Star Wars” universe.
Perhaps not every “Lego” game will be an evolutionary step forward, but “The Force Awakens” certainly achieves just that.