Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  Sep 20, 2006
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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The Force Remains Strong.

The Good

Lego Star Wars II continues what made the first game so appealing, but just adds on to it. The first game made its mark by adding scenes that you wanted to play, but never could in other games, and just the fact that it made the Prequel Trilogy actually interesting to explore.

The sequel takes this mold and simply adds on to it, not taking away any of the elements that made the first game so appealing. With this game, we get a stronger storyline (based on the original, unaltered DVD releases that coincided on the same day - in other words, Han shoots Greedo first, and the Ewok "Yub Yub" music returns), a fun character creation, new vehicles to build and ride in, and the humorous takes on familiar scenarios. I personally enjoyed the first game quite a bit. This one is even better.

Without a doubt, one of the coolest features of this game is that it allows you to export all of your characters from the first game to give players 100+ characters to play with in "Free Play". Anakin and Luke Skywalker? Check. Mace Windu and Lando Calrissian? Yes. Boba and Jango Fett? It's possible. Wicket the Ewok and Jar Jar Binks? Well, if that's your thing....

Vehicle modes are greatly improved. In the regular levels, characters can jump in and out of vehicles at will, allowing for new areas to be explored, and it's simply fun to tool around Tatooine in a Landspeeder. The vehicle-exclusive levels are no longer on rails, which allows for greater exploration of the levels. Some of the key scenes and battles genuinely are exciting, especially to see how they will be handled in humorous toy form.

And there is more than a fair share of things to explore. New areas that are completely off-limits unless you have the correct character class with you, and some of the areas are surprisingly huge. The items found increase the depth of the game, so there is actually a lot of incentive to keep earning and buying items to open up more and more areas of the game.

Graphics are pure Star Wars.... albeit more silly and playful. But they animate well, are accurate representations of the levels and worlds, and it's admittedly very cool to have your entire party of heroes working together as a team to complete levels as they did in the movie.

Sound is... pure Star Wars. You know what to expect. It's hard to rate a Star Wars game in this category because you know exactly what's supposed to be there, and it is.

The humor in this game should also be noted. It provides a lot of funny moments without being overly silly in its presentation. It tells the classic scenes from the trilogy... with just a slight humorous twist. And some scenes made me genuinely laugh.

The Bad

The team member AI seems a lot more "stupid" in this game. One of the more impressive aspects of the first game is that the AI controlled characters would have your back during a firefight. In this game, there's a lot of wondering if their shots do any damage at all. And a lot of times, they just stand there. The first game handled this much better in execution.

They also talk about "adaptive difficulty", which is supposed to ramp up in challenge based on your skill. The only thing I saw that might be this feature are the waves upon waves of endless Stormtroopers that would fill up the screen in levels and blow your characters to pieces repeatedly until you managed to be fast enough to accomplish the task at hand, and do so before the puzzle reset. If this is their idea of more responsive AI, it's cheap and not well thought out. Not to mention very frustrating.

Also frustrating is the two-player camera. The camera needs to better adjust if the characters get too far away each other. There is nothing worse than the camera pulling you towards a cliff trying to compensate for the distance, only to push you off a cliff and lose precious Lego pieces.

The Bottom Line

Despite its quirks, Lego Star Wars II is a virtual romp through a very big toy box. It's fun playing with all of the little action figures in and out of vehicles, and it's like revisiting a part of childhood again. That said, it does provide enough challenge that doesn't make it a "kid's game", which I've grown to think of as a derogatory term used for those games dumped on a system at the end of the console's life cycle.

The best way to describe this is as an "all ages game". It's fun as single player, and can be enjoyed with two players as long as both play as a team. I looked forward to this sequel all year, and I am glad to say that I am not disappointed. It captures a lot of the excitement and appeal of the original films, and proves to be a worthy companion piece to the first game.

A very fun and humorous title. Recommended.