The Big Game: LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens

Christopher Dring
The Big Game: LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens

This is probably the game you're looking for.

At least, it is if you happen to have watched last year's blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and judging by its huge Box Office figures, you probably did).

The games industry has been shy when it comes to specific movie tie-ins in recent years, and The Force Awakens wasn't really an exception. Yes, Disney Infinity 3.0 had a Force Awakens playset, but it was an add-on that required buying the base game first.

Battlefront featured a map that connected with the movie, while the various mobile games – including Galaxy of Heroes and Uprising – made nods to the film.

But in terms of a standalone game interpretation of the $2bn-plus grossing movie blockbuster... well there's not been one.

That is until this month, when UK studio TT Games will give The Force Awakens its trademark LEGO twist.

You might think the dev would be feeling the pressure, what with this being the only real standalone tie-in to one of the biggest movies ever. But director Jamie Eden (pictured) says that adapting the film into the world of games has been surprisingly simple.

It isn't a case of pressure as such,” he tells us. The film itself is really well paced and lends itself nicely to the features within the game. There's very little downtime and those parts introduce cool new characters. At the end of the day, we're all massive Star Wars fans ourselves and want to give players the best, most authentic Star Wars experience possible.”

He continues: LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens features so many cool locations, characters, weapons and vehicles, as well as the returning nostalgia factor. The game also lets players expand on scenes and characters in the film within the main story, alongside the exclusive New Adventures that take place in the time leading up to the film. We're also returning to the franchise that really started the LEGO video games as we know them today, which is a huge deal for us.”

For Star Wars fans that have watched the film many times, this ‘New Adventures' concept may be the most interesting aspect of the game.

Eden explains: We wanted to be able to give players something to experience alongside the film storyline, expanding on some of the questions people would have after seeing the film, such as what happened to Han Solo's ‘bigger crew' when hunting Rathtars? That's where the New Adventures come in, which delve into Han and Chewie's voyage to capture the ravenous Rathtars, how the mysterious Crimson Corsair foiled the First Order's plans, secrets behind Lor San Tekka's journey to the Jakku Village, Poe Dameron's rescue of Admiral Ackbar and more. It's been a privilege working with Lucasfilm to create new planets and characters within the Star Wars galaxy.”

TT Games has not just been playing around with The Force Awakens story, either. Since the first LEGO Star Wars game in 2005, the developer has since worked on almost 30 LEGO titles. And many of them – which also includes Indiana Jones, Batman, Marvel and Harry Potter – all feature similar gameplay mechanics.

For anyone that's played any of the other big LEGO games over the last year, things could start feeling a bit familiar. Yet Eden insists that the firm is mixing things up this time.

The Force Awakens gave us a great chance to work to enhance features that have been a staple of the LEGO games,” he insists.

Core mechanics like building with LEGO bricks is one area that we wanted to take a step further. This is where our new multi-builds system came into being. It allows the player multiple building solutions to solve a puzzle and advance the game in different ways. This adds another layer to some of our puzzles where the player needs to think about the order in which they build.

Another one of my favourite new features is the ability to engage in intense blaster battles, where players dive behind cover and take out enemies who are pinning them down.”

Getting Star Wars games right seems to be a tricky challenge. For every Battlefront or Rogue Squadron there's a Kinect Star Wars or Yoda's Stories. However, TT Games says that, in reality, it's hard to go wrong with Star Wars.

When you stick closely to the feel of the franchise, it's hard for there to be a bad Star Wars game,” Eden says.

I've had a lot of great times with all the various games from flight sims to shooters to racing games. It's all about getting the authenticity right – the iconic music tracks blasting out, the look and feel of the space flight and the personality of the characters in that galaxy.”

Of course, it's perhaps a little easier for the TT Games team, who have a successful formula to follow that was set down by the first LEGO Star Wars game from 2005.

That's not a criticism. It's actually quite impressive how well the series continues to perform. We often talk about franchise fatigue and how that may harm sales of Assassin's Creed or Call of Duty. Yet there's no sign of that with LEGO. The Force Awakens will be the fourth LEGO title released in just over a year, and the previous three - LEGO Jurassic World, Dimensions and Marvel's Avengers – have sold pretty much 1m copies in the UK between them.

It's all the more impressive when you consider that these are console games, a market that – apparently – has struggled to win over the younger audience in the face of tablet and mobile games.

There's always a charm to seeing LEGO characters parodying film events, along with the blend of collectible gameplay and enjoying playing co-operatively with fans young and old,” Eden believes.

They are some of the few games I get to play with my daughter. It's been her gateway into many franchises that I know and love, but the games are also suitable for younger players so they're a perfect fit.”

He concludes: A lot of our audience is still drawn in from parents or siblings playing with family members. But, we want to continue to bring more and more people into our games, young and old, so we're hoping LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens helps grow that younger audience on these consoles."

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