There have been so many LEGO video games over the last 15 years that some may have forgotten where it all began. The answer to that is Star Wars. It's been a long time since Warner Bros. and TT Games journeyed to a galaxy far, far away. The last time they did so was for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and rather than take on the latter two movies of the third trilogy individually, LEGO fans will get to experience the entire Skywalker story in a single package. However, Star Wars has changed a lot since the LEGO take on the series and some of the signature LEGO humor doesn't seem to translate as well to the newer movies.
Shacknews was recently invited to a press preview for LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. It was the first time the game has been exhibited since its numerous delays and what was on display brought back a lot of memories. There was a montage of historic scenes from the franchise, which included Luke facing Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi battling Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, Yoda and Palpatine going at it in Revenge of the Sith, and Kylo Ren confronting Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. It was an indicator of just how far this series has come, showing off some of the most expressive LEGO figures to date. The expressions and emotions evoked a kind of pathos I wouldn't have thought a LEGO game would ever be capable of putting forward.
As much as the LEGO games have grown through their cutscenes and cinematics, they've also evolved from a gameplay standpoint. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga begins with a level select screen containing all nine of the franchise's core movies. Each selection follows the narrative of its source material and allows for cooperative play in all instances. For example, A New Hope begins with the boarding of Leia's vessel, setting the stage for Princess Leia and Wedge Antilles to try and get the Death Star plans off the ship before Darth Vader can find them. Over in Revenge of the Sith, the story begins with Anakin and Obi-Wan staging the rescue of Palpatine, leading to their final battle with Count Dooku.
All of the game's environments have been enhanced so that nearly every surface is made of LEGO and behaves as such. The other major addition to the game is the new combo system, which gives the melee and shooting mechanics some renewed life. They can also counter-attack when prompted, giving the game's combat a surprising amount of depth. Beyond the combat, expect to see new puzzle elements, some of which have been designed with co-op in mind. The most interesting new idea in place for The Skywalker Saga is the implementation of alternate paths. For example, going back to A New Hope, there's a sequence that features two different paths: a wall that needs to be blown up or a separate corridor where a fire needs to be extinguished first. Each has its own difficulty level and its own secrets, as well as different ways to approach them. Remember that this is a LEGO game, so it's possible to build vehicles or other helpful items on the fly in order to make certain paths a little easier.
Of course, if there's anything that the LEGO games are known for, it's for their sense of humor. That remains intact throughout The Skywalker Saga. Whether it's one-liners, occasional quips, sight gags, or slapstick, many of the jokes that one would expect to see in the first two Star Wars trilogies are present. There are a lot of jokes that are good for laughs throughout the pre-Disney era. Unfortunately, there are a few attempts at humor in the later Star Wars episodes that don't really work, not due to the fault of the game's developers, but just because of the nature of what those movies are.
At the risk of starting a debate on the movies' quality, something that's undoubtedly never been discussed on the internet before, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker don't really lend themselves to the typical LEGO humor. Just to name an example, there's the opening of The Last Jedi, where Poe Dameron leads a doomed run against First Order dreadnaughts. It's a scene that ends with the death of Paige Tico, who sacrifices herself by kicking down an array of bombs. It's a sad scene and one that's not alleviated by the LEGO games' signature slapstick. Nor does the humor help Kylo Ren's... well... anything Kylo Ren, really. A later cutscene reenacts the scene where Snoke berates Kylo Ren for thinking he can be like Vader, a fairly heavy scene, but one that this game infuses with some more physical humor. It doesn't work well here and it speaks more to how much the Star Wars movies have changed.
Despite that, it's looking like LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is on its way to being the definitive game in the series, thanks to the additions to combat, new exploration opportunities, and revamped flight and dogfighting mechanics. I'm a little apprehensive over whether the LEGO humor will translate to the newer movies, but I'm hopeful for the best.
The wait for LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is almost over. The game is set to come to PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on April 5.