LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Review
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a massive game, consisting of roughly 400 playable characters, nine movies to journey through, and more puns, jokes, and sight gags than even Jar Jar Binks can handle. Developer TT Games has been making Lego games for a long time, and this ambitious project shows this studio at the top of its game, delivering brick-smashing fun and wonderfully absurd Star Wars humor from start to finish. While nailing the little moments, the immense scale of the project appears to have been too wide for TT Games to harness, as some of the content is uncharacteristically dull or uneven.
The perfect example of this experience bouncing between highs and lows occurs on the planet Ahch-To, where Luke Skywalker retreats to close himself off to the Force in The Last Jedi. In this desolate location, TT Games throws in a silly porg joke wherever possible, and makes Luke Skywalker hilarious to the point that he hums his theme song as he tries to ignore Rey. We also learn Luke has set up a sizable operation to harvest green milk from this island’s space walruses. All of this content spins Star Wars' lore in delightful ways, but the journey to it is often a slog, pushing the player to do little more than run great distances from point to point. Along the way, there's little to see or do, and the few diversions that do pop up on Ahch-To lack either the creativity or complexity found within the game's proper levels. The bulk of side content, which is a big part of this experience, mostly comes up short, despite delivering fantastic rewards, like more playable characters.
For the first time in a Lego Star Wars game, the galaxy can freely be explored when planets are unlocked by completing episodes. TT Games’ artists did a phenomenal job recreating these planets; each is teeming with life, vivid details, and plenty of fan service. Tatooine’s sprawling Mos Eisley spaceport is densely packed with aliens and vehicles and feels distinctly different than a desolate location like Hoth. All of these locations blend realistic backdrops with clever brick creations that players can interact with. The atmospherics and lighting found in many of these places are particularly impressive. The haze that accompanies Leia’s meeting with R2-D2 on the Tantive IV looks fantastic, and smaller details like a lightsaber’s vibrant glow reflecting off surfaces – including the plastic head of the character wielding it – is another nice touch.
The Skywalker Saga is at its best within the condensed, story-focused levels, which hark back to this series’ earlier designs. Hunting for minikits and kyber blocks is fun, often pushing the player (or couch co-op duo) to solve puzzles or break objects to reveal new paths. These stages are worth replaying when more character classes (such as the Sith) are unlocked. Some minigames are overused, such as R2’s terminal hacking, but the moment-to-moment gameplay flow in these levels is smooth and delivers fewer roadblocks than in other Lego Star Wars titles. On the note of R2's hacking, you can earn an upgrade later that allows you to pay to bypass them.
Strong focus is applied to combat, featuring all-new lightsaber techniques and cover-based shooting – both disciplines get the job done in enjoyable ways. Neither offers much depth, but their simplicity works for the conflicts, allowing stormtrooper platoons to fall quickly. Carefully placed headshots knock their helmets off, and yes, you can wear them! Jedi can also through their sabers and use the Force to hurl objects at enemies. These mechanics get stretched out in boss battles and push the player to sew in evasive maneuvers to dodge attacks like Darth Maul’s rage-filled charge. Even unlikely characters like BB-8 or C-3PO are capable of combat and are fun to control.
Some stages offer vehicular play to bring Star Wars’ intense space battles to life. I had a blast piloting an X-Wing in the Death Star’s trench and the Millennium Falcon in an asteroid field. Most of these conflicts lack difficulty, yet deliver plenty of excitement when chaotic storms of TIE fighters encircle your vessel. Along with the characters, there are plenty of ships to unlock.
A continual joy in The Skywalker Saga is the pursuit of unlocking all the characters. Given how big the adventure is, this is a dizzying proposition, but thankfully, you won’t feel like you are digging for a needle in a haystack when looking for a specific character you want. You can exchange well-earned studs for clues that lead to character locations and unlocking requirements. Studs can also be spent to enhance skills and unlock new abilities for the different character classes. I like the newfound depth that TT Games has applied to the tried-and-true Lego formula.
Despite being periodically uneventful, the Skywalker Saga is a thorough and fun examination of all three Star Wars movie trilogies. It delivers the same sensation of being overwhelmed as opening a Blu-Ray collection of films and not knowing which one you should start with. The player can bounce between trilogies and veer off a story path at any time to explore the galaxy far, far away. Some discoveries may be as dull as sand, but others may deliver something great, like Babu Frik as a playable character or seeing what Kylo Ren's bedroom looks like.