Reviewed: December 17, 2007
Released: November 6, 2007
Five years ago, you could have asked any gamer to tell you about 90% of the Star Wars games – and unless they were the devoutest of the devout Star Wars fans, you would have been answered with a single word; it starts with “s” and ends in “ucks”. Yes, Star Wars games were the laughing stock of gaming.
But when Bioware’s Knights Of The Old Republic (KOTOR) hit the shelves it changed gamers’ perceptions of the licensed tie-ins. KOTOR might not have had any cool Luke Skywalkers or Millennium Falcons in it (it took place in a different time) the quality of the gameplay made it cool to be in the Star Wars Universe again.
LucasArts seemed to take notice from the KOTOR experience that their franchise stood better on gameplay than on name recognition, and that investing in gameplay did more than simply throwing Obi Wan or Darth Vader into a humdrum shooter or fighting clone.
What followed were a couple of years of great Star Wars games, which took popular existing games and placed them in the Star Wars universe; most noticeably the Battlefront series, which instantly attracted the hardened Battlefield vets.
So when LucasArts announced the first real foray into the stories of the blockbuster movies, fans were duly excited – that is until they heard that the game(s) would be placed in the LEGO universe. A collective “WTF” was heard in and around the gaming industry, as critics wondered why in the heck LucasArts would sully their newfound credibility…with LEGOs of all things.
The irony was when the first LEGO Star Wars title – which followed the most recent trilogy of movies – ended up winning gamers over with its unique co-op gameplay, solid visuals, and infinite replay value. And when LucasArts dropped the second LEGO Star Wars – based on the original trilogy – the series only got better with the inclusion of time-honored character favorites like Luke, Chewbacca, Hans Solo, Yoda, and Boba Fett.
The games were top sellers for their respective holiday seasons, and as not to miss out on an opportunity to further cash in on their success, LucasArts and Traveller’s Tales have decided to compile both titles into a single cart titles LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga.
If you have not had a chance to play a LEGO Star Wars game yet, you are in for a real treat with The Complete Saga. Featuring a compiled version of both games, The Complete Saga following the chronologically correct story of the two cinematic releases.
Gamers get to take on the likenesses of the entire Star Wars cast from young Obi Wan and Anakin to Luke, Leia, and Lando. Gamers get to pilot vehicles ranging from Anakin’s early pod racing days right up to the Star Fighters taking out Vader’s Death Star. The package is a Star Wars fan’s dream, and the perfect way to introduce the series to young gamers.
The control is simple, using mostly the face buttons and bumpers to control actions, with “Force” powers mapped to the touch screen, if desired (the gamer can always revert back to the face buttons). The gameplay is so similar to the console versions that it is almost eerie that this much processing power could have emerged from the tiny DS innards.
Much like the console release of The Complete Saga, the levels from the first three movies (LEGO Star Wars 1) seem a bit short and stunted compared to the much lengthier levels in the final three movies (i.e. LEGO Star Wars II). The game also carries the same awkwardness in vehicular levels, often leaving character inadvertently doubling-back or spinning around with accidental button presses.
Handheld visuals don’t get much better than The Complete Saga on the DS, with awesome 3D design, great lighting, and cool effects – the game looks like the perfect port of the pretty console versions.
There are some negative issues that stem from the DS’s small viewing size and split-screen setup, but characters are easily distinguishable and dead-spot issues are rarely too serious to overcome.
The cutscenes are even kind of cool with a Colorforms-like style, utilizing still cutouts of the characters that float around onscreen as if being imagined in a child’s mind. The overall appearance only adds to the already whimsical façade that is LEGO Star Wars.
LucasArts has never skimped on sound, and LEGO Star Wars is a great example of how to squeeze every last bit of audio power out of the DS’s tiny processor. Believe me when I tell you that the musical score is on par with the console versions, and is even more impressive out of a nice set of headphones or ear buds.
As well, the sound effects are top-notch, with a bevy of unique sound samples, a ton of cool atmospheric background noise, and some of the coolest ship sounds yet heard on a handheld.
The LEGO Star Was series has successfully avoided voice acting by reverting to an almost-Simlish (look that up on Wikipedia) system of grunts and groans to emote the onscreen actions. As expected, the voice tracks are easy to comprehend, and the fact that no real words are being said does not detract a bit from the proceedings.
I cannot dote on LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga any more than I have in the proceeding sections; I am completely impressed with the amount of quality gameplay packed in this little disc. Considering the main story mode, co-op play, unlockable areas, and collectibles, The Complete Saga will keep even the most hardened of handheld players busy for a long, long time.
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a must buy for all DS-owning Star Wars fans out there. It contains the complete levels of both previous games, and even tweaks the gameplay issues that plagued the earlier handheld ports.
The game looks great, plays great, and would make the perfect gift for any gamer in the family – young or old.