LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Handheld Review
Back in 2005 little did we know that a game which combined Star Wars with LEGO would spawn an entire new genre of video games which are still as popular today. After many LEGO titles based on popular LEGO themes and franchises, developer TT table Games have returned to a galaxy far, far away for the fifth LEGO Star Wars game. The handheld versions of LEGO titles don’t always get the coverage they deserve and I’ve long been trying to champion them alongside their bigger console brothers. Over the years the handhelds versions have vastly improved, admittedly with a few hiccups along the way but the always provide a fun and unique game. So how does LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens fair on handhelds? Read on you must and find out you will….
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens marks the triumphant return of the No. 1 LEGO videogame franchise and immerses fans in the new Star Wars adventure like never before. Players can relive the epic action from the blockbuster film in a way that only LEGO can offer, featuring all of the storylines from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens will showcase original dialogue from key members of the theatrical cast, providing the most authentic Star Wars for experience for players.
- In LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, players relive the epic action from the blockbuster film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, retold through the clever and witty LEGO lens.
- The game will also feature exclusive playable content that bridges the story gap between Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens also introduces Multi-Builds and Blaster Battles to the LEGO videogame universe.With Multi-Builds, use available
- LEGO bricks to open up new paths, then break them apart and re-build them again to open up another! And another!
- During Blaster Battles, use your surroundings as cover to stand against the First Order.
As mentioned above each time a new LEGO title is revealed it’s always a given it will be available on just about every console under the sun including both PSVita and 3DS handhelds. But despite their existence little is known about what the handheld versions will feature. They always include the same basic storyline but beyond that, the game’s structure and features can greatly differ. As times have moved on the console LEGO games have become bigger, with more characters, more to do outside the main story and open hub worlds to explore. But these don’t always translate over to handheld, due to the limits of the machines – that is until now. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens for handhelds is the same basic game as you’d play on your home console, but all the bells and whistles are also included, so there’s multiple open worlds, all the additional canon stories, Blaster Battles, Multiple Builds and even Aerial Fights. I really was expecting a vastly cut down game, but the more I played on the more I discovered just how much the game has to offer.
As you’d imagine with a game based on the movie, it follows the storyline of The Force Awakens quite closely with the game structured around the events of the film. So you begin your adventure on Jakku as you track down the important piece of the map which leads to Luke Skywalker. But the First Order aren’t far behind and it’s not long before you jump into the action. Gameplay is very similar to other LEGO titles with dual characters on screen, allowing for both two player local co-op and character switching in single player to overcome puzzles. As much as TT Games like to stick to the familiar LEGO formula, they also include something new in every title, this time around the new additions to gameplay are Multi-Builds and Blaster Battle, both of which add a new dynamic to levels. Multi-Builds allow you to choose what to build with various piles of LEGO bricks you find dotted around the game, these can vary from building something to take out an enemy or building something to overcome an obstacle. You can then smash it up and rebuild it into something else. Sometimes this will lead to hidden surprises or you’ll need to build them in a number of ways to move ahead.
For example at one point on Jakku you’re fenced in with a wall of flames and you come across a Multi-Build section. The pile of bricks offer 3 different builds, simply pushing the control stick in the desired direction has you build will choose what you construct. Here you must build a machine to get a water tank, then use the same bricks to complete the water pipe from the pump to fill the tank, before using the same bricks to then fit the water tank to a sprinkler to douse the flames. There’s no set way of doing it either so what you build won’t always be the correct thing at first. Multi-Builds don’t replace single build items but they do offer a fun addition to play especially when you replay levels and choose a different thing to build to give a different outcome.
Blaster Battles are also a new addition to gameplay, these are cover based shootouts sections where you face off against the enemies. They are very similar to games such as Uncharted, Gears of Wars and the like. You’ll happen across Blaster Battles at certain points in levels. Here the camera moves in tightly to your characters, who will be crouched behind cover. You can move from various sections of cover and then by pressing ‘X’ with pop you in and out of cover to take your shot. When standing you can blast the bad guys, you can also pull down hooks or scan sections when required. Blaster Battles are an odd addition to play, they are really fun especially as you try and keep your gold medal score but it is odd seeing them in a LEGO game, but I’m glad they are and they fit nicely within the Star Wars theme. Uncharted as not just inspired Blaster Battles, it’s also inspired other sections of the game, with QTE button presses often appearing as you climb across things.
LEGO games are greatly criticized for playing it safe, but each new title tries to added something new and the two new additions here vastly change the play experience whilst not affecting the familiar gameplay.
Each planet the film visits acts as a hub world within the game, from these you access the story levels and once you’ll played through them, you’ll find they are also home to a number of side missions and collectibles. You can also use them to replay levels in Freeplay mode, which allows you to tackle levels with any character, meaning you can mop up all the stray Gold Bricks and Minikits. The handheld games also introduced level challenges, and despite LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens following the structure of the console version more closely than very before, the challenges are back. These range from completing the level and collecting a set number of studs to more varied things like taking out a certain number of enemies in a particular way or destroying various objects. There is no way you’ll get all of these first time around so you’ll need to replay levels to get them all.
Hub Worlds also allow you to pilot a number of MicroFigters, which will be unlocked throughout the game. These are based on the collectible little LEGO sets which re-imagined famous Star Wars vehicles on a smaller scale. It’s possible some of these may also give a glimpse at future series, with a number of them yet to appear as actual LEGO sets and if not they certainly give you a little bit of inspiration to build your own.
There are hundreds of characters to unlock and play as, you’ll get some as you complete levels others can be purchased and many of the classic characters are found Carbonite Bricks, which are dotted around the various Hub Worlds. Many of them have familiar abilities and there’s plenty of opportunities to use a nice selection of them. Big Fig characters can smash weaken walls, Mon Calamari can dive into water pools and Flame Troopers can melt ice to name but a few. You can also build your own characters in the Medical Bay on the Resistance Base. As with other LEGO titles there are points within levels that require a certain type of character, often to activate a switch. Even these are nicely varied, Protocol Droids match ‘languages’ in a Simon says type game, Astromechs need to line up terminal dials and other characters can match up parts of various characters or a selection of Aurebesh symbols to move on.
Thankfully finding all these characters and other collectibles can be made a little easier thanks to Red Brick cheats. The can be unlocked, purchased and activated to give you various bonuses options such as a Collectibles Locator, extra health or less useful things like Silly Sabers or Droid voices. Red Bricks can be found in various levels and it’s worth tracking them down if you want to find other collectibles and characters.
You can’t have a Star Wars game without stepping into the cockpit of one of the franchises many iconic ships and even though this is a handheld game, the aerial sections are included and they haven’t been stripped down that much. You’ll find sections where you fly through a level in a ‘driving game’ type way but then the action moves into a full free roam 360° arena, much like Star Fox/Lylat Wars. At points the action even moves directly into the ship as you move through tighter areas, just like in the films. Impressive feats considering the limited power of handheld devices.
A special mention must go to the awesome little 8-bit arcade type games fitting around the game and that also act as load screens. These have a chip-tune version of the Star Wars theme and various gameplay types such as Space Invaders, Asteroid etc. There’s no need for them to be included but you’ll find yourself playing them for a fair few minutes.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the handheld games are often overlooked and underrated. Sometimes offering a trimmed down experience to the console versions, but they also have enough differences to warrant playing both. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the best of both worlds, you aren’t getting a cut down version in terms of story and extra content but you also have the elements of past games like challenges, which made them so much fun. Of course graphically, it’s not as visually impressive as the console versions, but this is always the case with handheld games and despite that the levels are still filled with things to see and do as are the hub areas. I’ve played all of the LEGO handheld titles from ones made solely for handhelds, alongside with those released next to their relevant consoles counterparts and I can happily say this is the best LEGO handheld game to date. TT Fusion have managed to create a title which stands up on its own right, instead of something which should just be considered a mere stripped down port. If you don’t have access to a home console, then by playing this you will find you get the same type of play experience and if you have both, then the handheld version is different enough to warrant playing each version. The Force really is strong with this one!
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be available for PlayStation Vita and 3DS from June 28th. This version is now also available for iSO devices. It’s also available for PlayStation 3, PS4, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC via Steam. We’ll be bringing you our review of the console version in the next week or so.
Please note all images contained within this review, with the exception of the box art, have been captured in-game by ourselves, therefore please do not reproduce else where without offering credit and linking back to original source. Version reviewed PlayStation Vita.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Handheld Review
- LEGO Connection
- Value for Money
Another fine handheld LEGO outing, well worth playing alongside the console versions and filled plenty to see and do. Great value money that will offer hours of play. The BEST LEGO handhand title so far!