• So, the difficult second album, the follow up to something no-one expected to be half as good as it was; Lego Stars Wars II – The Original Trilogy made it out for the same day as the reissued DVDs, but like Oasis’ Morning Glory, Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood or The Stone Roses’ Second Coming, it’s not a patch on the first. Travellers Tales have clearly worked hard here, but this is ultimately repetitive, frustrating and bugged beyond belief. But it’s still worth playing – and here’s why.

    Naturally, everyone this side of Darth Vader agrees that episodes VI, V and VI are superior to ‘the others’ in terms of the characters, storyline and just plain rose-tinted nostalgia, and thankfully this is where the developers have focused most of their efforts. Indeed, were this any other game without the unrivalled license and the foundation of such deep-seated familiarity, the score would be significantly less, and in much the same way, if you’ve yet to join Han Solo, Luke and C3PO on their original adventures most of the game will be wasted on you.

    LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

    So, LSWII sticks firmly enough to the story (except when a bug in the second episode flips two of the levels around) to keep Star Wars fans rooted to their analog sticks with enough visual clues to highlight what’s coming next around each corner. Sadly, 10 seconds of action on film doesn’t always translate too well to what amounts to a frustrating fifteen minute corridor shootout as Stormtroopers stream out of doors whilst you’re trying to hold down B to build a tractor. Key moments are well realised, but they’re expanded on ad nauseum until you’re sick of the sight of the Tattooine or the sound of a Speeder Bike.

    The awful NPC AI doesn’t help either – they seem unable to actually kill any enemies, or even usefully get in the way of blaster fire. 50% of the game sees you trying to hold down one button to build something completely unrelated to the environment (but more often than not ends up being a ramp or a switch) or another button to move such an object to another part of the room (assuming you’re a Jedi). The other half involves tapping X to fire, dodge and wave your light saber around.

    The game sports a drop-in, drop-out 2nd player (but not over Live) which is useful when the AI doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, but not actually that much fun – the distance between you and your mate makes Gauntlet look free-roaming, but it’s nice to have the option there. Otherwise, it’s a tap of the Y button to switch to the nearest available NPC, although again, when you’ve got half the Empire hanging around behind you it’s a lottery who you’ll get next. Don’t worry about getting shot though, you have infinite lives, the only penalty being a small deduction from your points total.

    A nice touch for the toddlers amongst us, then, but we don’t buy the ‘made for kids’ approach – the game is screaming out for some signposting and the path forward is often so obscure that even the most grissled gamer will spend a good 20 minutes looking for the exit, more often than not a stray Lego brick that needs to be moved somewhere else to form a door. Even the key points in all the movies that should be brilliant (Death Star Trench Run, Hoth and Endor) are ruined by unclear objectives (dragging exploding marbles into AT-ATs? Hmmm) that we’ll be very surprised little Jonny can work out for himself.

    Still, it’s not all bad – the graphics are lovely and sharp, and the Lego works a treat giving everything a chunky, plasticy look. The aspect ratio is screwed up in VGA, though, and the frame rate takes a dive everytime something exciting happens, but the animation, depth of field blurring and modelling is all good stuff. Likewise, Travellers Tales have captured the audio perfectly – everything sounds exactly like it does in the films and the music is, as ever, fantastic.

    The story mode is short (about 4-5 hours the first time) but extended playthroughs are rewarded, and achievements abound if you can survive each level without dying. If the game can get patched and the bugs ironed out then we’d recommend it to fans, but as it stands Lego Star Wars II is clearly rushed and missing most of the charm of the first game. Rent it, complete it in a weekend, then move on, because this is the very definition of an average game.

    Score: 5/10

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