Daily Archives: November 16, 2007

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

I mentioned at the end of review of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, I had already picked up a copy of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga on release day.

In fact, the looming release of The Complete Saga was what motivated me to finally write up that review.

But now The Complete Saga is here.

Saturday morning this past weekend started as many Saturday mornings have over the last few months.  My daughter woke up first, then headed on into our room to wake me up.

If only we had this problem on school days.

I got up without too much protest about the time.

I got in my sweats, went into my office and picked up the new game off of the top shelf of my book case (hiding things from people who are only four feet tall can be easy) then headed out to the family room.

My daughter was already reeling out the GameCube controllers, ready to play.

I told her that we would not be using those controllers today.

Her face began to adopt that pleading pose, thinking that I was going to propose playing Mario Kart Double Dash or Marble Mania (which I really like), games that only I seem to enjoy these days.

But before she could work her way into full whine mode (how do you make that stop?) I pulled the LEGO Star Wars: Complete Saga case out from behind my back and showed it to her.

She is only in kindergarten, so reading is still work for her, but she did not need to read much on that case to know that the new LEGO Star Wars game, the one I mentioned a month or so back, the game she has been asking me about ever since (Daaaaad, we need Jar-Jar’s super jumping ability in this level! When is the new game coming out?) was here and ready to play.

I unplugged the GameCube controllers, set them aside, and got out the Wii remotes and nunchuk controllers.

Then my daughter and I spent a good nine hours over the weekend playing the game, hitting the 10% mark for content, which gives me some basis on which to make a first pass review.

The Cool

It is LEGO Star Wars.  It is cool by default.

Having all of the levels and all of the characters to unlock is great.  You can have characters that you have unlocked in any of the episodes when you choose free play.  You can also use parts from any of those unlocked characters to make your custom LEGO character.

Plus they have added new characters to the playable/unlockable list.  My daughter was flying around as Watto pretty soon after we started.

All of the great co-op game play action is in the game, but improved.

To borrow a phrase from Darren at The Common Sense Gamer, “They took out the suck.”

This particularly applies to episodes I, II, and III.  There were levels in that set which were extremely frustrating to play, and more so when trying to play co-op with a five year old.

I mentioned the pod race level previously.  It was a huge pain in the original LEGO Star Wars.  You had to race through three laps (just like the movie) with each lap divided into timed segments.  You could only advance to the next timed segment after completing the previous.  The first segment was hard enough that I had to have my daughter drop out and solo it.  I made it after four tries.

And then each segment after that gets harder.

But they fixed that.  They did away with the segments.  It is just one three lap race now, and all you have to do is catch, pass, and stay in front of Sebulba.  And if you don’t make it, you just have to re-run the last lap, not the whole race.

This time I only had to run the last lap four times before I won, though I did have my daughter drop out after the second run.  She was fine with that.

And then there was the Battle over Coruscant, the level that made me send the original LEGO Star Wars back to GameFly.  As frustrating as the podrace, but much more difficult.  I never made it through the level.

With the updates in The Complete Saga however, my daughter and I made it through the level with only a couple of setbacks.  We got to see a lot of content that was previously unavailable to us, including the fights with Count Dooku and General Grievous.

And finally there is Indiana Jones.  As a promo for the upcoming LEGO Indiana Jones game, one of the characters you can unlock in The Complete Saga is Indiana Jones himself.  He is cool with his trademark fedora, whip, and .45 revolver.  The in-game sound effect for that .45 is straight from the bar scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It is a great sound, a deep, throaty, concussive report. Too bad it sounds like no .45 I’ve ever head fired, and I have heard a fair sampling at the range.  But that is Hollywood!

The Middling

I was a bit worried that I might have to get up off the Love Sac and get an early morning workout with the coming of LEGO Star Wars to the Wii.  But that was not the case.  While you can swing a lightsaber by waving the Wii remote, you can do the same thing with the B (trigger) button.  And since all the lightsaber strokes are scripted already, that is fine.  You cannot do anything special swinging the remote around that you couldn’t do just clicking the B button.

Which is, of course, going to be a disappointment to some who were looking for some real lightsaber action.  The game makes very limited use of the special control abilities of the Wii remote.  Instead, the Wii remote and nunchuck just take the place of the standard game pad.

The problem is, the GameCube game pad is much better for that sort of thing.  It is well designed and comfortable in both my hands and my daughter’s.  I have not checked the manual yet, but I do not think I can go back to the GameCube controllers, or even to the Wii Classic controllers for this game.

So, while I can comfortably lounge while playing the game, the controller configuration straddles the divide between Wii remote and game pad, which is dissatisfying for anybody who favors one or the other.

They also added on a two-player game section.  In that you can compete against the other player in several activities, including killing NPCs, collecting studs, or killing each other.  While a it was a nice idea to include some competitive play in the game, it really is not that good.

While the shooting each other game is simple enough, it is very heavily influenced by the character you choose to play.

Hunting NPCs is a bit more painful, and the match inevitably ends up going to the person who runs further ahead, thus getting to any new NPC spawns first.

And the stud collecting… that is just dreadful.  We chose the “collect 100,000” studs game.  Only it was five rounds, so it is really 500,000 studs.  So you go in and blow stuff up to scoop up all the studs that drop.  But then NPCs show up, shooting at you.  If you die, you lose a big chunk of your total.  this wouldn’t be so bad, but the NPCs come on in a constant stream, so you end up spending most of your time fighting them.  Plus you opponent can also shoot and kill you with the same stud loss result.

After a long time playing this with my daughter, during which neither of us hit the first 100,000 marker, I changed tactics and just covered her while she collected studs, just to end the game.

And this is compounded by a problem that exists in the co-op game, which is that you cannot go in two different directions.  And for a competitive game like this, you want to be able to go a different way that the other person.  So in trying to go different ways, we managed to play tug of war and get each other stuck in dead ends.

Since this was some “extra” content in a co-op game, I am willing to give it a pass, but I could not recommend it.

The Questionable

Then there are the things that bother me.

For example, somebody decided to turn up the shine setting to 11.

Everybody and everything in the game is much shinier than the previous versions.  It really bothers me.  I want somebody to run out and powder Chewbacca’s shiny face.  The glare off of RD-D2 is blinding.  And some things have so much shine, they get a glazed donut texture to them, like somebody did “wax on” but forgot to “wax off.”  (Heh, he said “Wax off!”)

They also made C-3P0 rather more gold in color than before.  A bit too much of the orange, if you ask me.

But these are matters of taste.  The big thing is that in some busy scenes, places where you’re blowing things up while NPCs are running around and firing, the graphics performance grinds quite a bit.  Objects get jumpy and the quality of what is displayed degrades quite noticeably.

I do not understand why this should be the case.  The graphics (minus the shine factor) are the same as the GameCube version, which ran as smooth as silk on the Wii.  Somebody screwed up.

The Verdict

While it has its faults, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a clear winner at our house.  The smoothing out of the annoyingly difficult parts from the first installment, along with the continues great co-op game play, means that my daughter will continue ignoring the idea of “Sleep-in Saturday” for some time to come.

So no extra rest for me, but a dad’s got to do what a dad’s got to do.