TAG24's Take: The Force is with the new LEGO Star Wars game
Los Angeles, California - There's nothing like a good LEGO game to give Star Wars fans and newcomers one of the most accessible and purely fun gaming experiences of the year. Here's TAG24's Take on a great start to the games of April.
Publisher Warner Bros. Games and developer TT Games released LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga for PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and 5, and the Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles on March 5, letting you play through the nine main Star Wars movies with TT Games' usual quirky spin on the source material.
This time around, LEGO Star Wars got a game that is easily the biggest collection of content in one place, with a staggering amount of side-quests, open areas, and surprisingly good jokes and jabs at the original movies.
With over 300 playable characters to try out, a galaxy map, explorable worlds, and multiple paths to victory in each level, this game is a massive testament to the developers' backbreaking efforts.
There is even a free play mode that lets you roll through the game with any character you want, which solidly ups the potential for wacky hijinks.
And you can unlock all sorts of goofy spins on the stories, like turning the dialogue into mumbling, or switching out every lightsaber for a LEGO baguette.
No matter how you play the game, there is something here for everyone. Die-hard players can go for 100% completion (good luck!), while others can just play to enjoy the storyline or explore the different planets featured in the movies.
There is a lot going on, easily making this the most ambitious attempt to offer players 40 years of Star Wars film history with a tongue-in-cheek twist.
And even though the game clearly doesn't take itself too seriously, it still feels like a powerful homage to the Star Wars legacy.
The Force abounds
Anyone who is already a Star Wars fan will probably have a great time playing LEGO Star Wars, but it doesn't win a prize on nostalgia alone.
The game is very approachable, in the best sense of the word. Players who are new to Star Wars, new to gaming, or both, are more than welcome in the Skywalker Saga.
Sure, there is a ton of stuff to do, with side-quests, hidden collectables, and areas for you to cavort around in to your heart's content, but TT Games kept that content optional. You can still have a blast just rolling through the main storylines.
Puzzles and choices aren't too complex, but it feels good to be able to choose a path that involves more action, or one with less confrontation.
The controls are good, with optional aim-assist to help newer players hit their blaster shots instead of shooting all over the place like a Stormtrooper.
There's also a decent cover system that is intuitive, and helps you play tactically. But if you want to charge in guns a-blazing and fists a-swinging, the game encourages you to, and includes a fleshed-out combo system and special abilities that make combat feel flashy, yet solid.
And flying around in the space sequences is a treat, especially since all the LEGO ships look just like you could have pieced them together yourself.
This game delivers the classic Star Wars stories, along with a sizable helping of jokes and slapstick humor. It shines as a lighter game that invites you to laugh and have a good time.
And if the number of players at launch are any judge, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is already a success, with a peak of 82,000 concurrent players, which far outpaces previous LEGO games.
The good is oh so good
You'll be surprised by how good this game looks, even though it's built around digital LEGO pieces. The Skywalker Saga turned out to be a beautiful reminder of how gorgeous the set pieces in the movies were, and how good the action sequences looked.
It's a blast to hop on a speeder bike and cruise through the lush forests of Endor, skim the arid wastes of Tatooine, or get frosty with the glittering cold of Hoth.
Seriously, one big fat chef's kiss goes to the art of this game.
And pucker up for another one, because the game sounds great. Fans and newcomers can both delight in the excellent soundtrack, and the cinematic feel of the game's sound effects.
Running down a corridor on a spaceship contrasts well with scooting around in the sand on Tatooine, and dialogue, hectic firefights, and more peaceful moments all work together to make you feel like you are playing through the movies.
There are even the oddly satisfying little crunchy noises from punching everything in sight to collect more of the game's currency, LEGO studs. It's a truly satisfying noise that stays fresh way longer than it should.
Plus, you get to enjoy all that goodness in split-screen cooperative mode, which puts it in the running for best family game of the year.
The best part of the game, on top of all the visuals and sounds and cinematic feel, is that LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will make you feel good – and right now, that is just what we need.
*Crunch* but not from stepping on a LEGO piece
The game's polish and status as the most accessible game of the year so far is somewhat marred by its development cycle.
More than 20 people who previously or currently worked for developer TT Games told Polygon about their development hell while building LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.
It's known as "crunch" in the gaming industry, and it describes the overworked state of a development team, where managers force employees to pull crazy overtime. The employees at TT Games reportedly often worked 80-100 hours over six days during the week.
That led to sleeping at the office, losing any semblance of a social life, and, unfortunately, burning out.
One former employee said, "It was a very soft-spoken blackmail. If people don’t start doing overtime, there’s going to be problems."
Thanks to the unbearable conditions they worked through, we get to enjoy an amazing new Star Wars game, which is well worth your hard-earned cash if you like the series, enjoy kooky LEGO games, or want a more relaxed game to play with your family, kids, or non-gamer partner.
The well-crafted Star Wars LEGO game is delightful, perfect for casual gamers, family fun, and anyone who wants a refreshing new way to experience the movies. But it did get churned out with terrible working conditions for its development team.
Cover photo: Warner Bros/TT Games