2005. That’s when the first one came out and pretty much blew my mind as to how Lego may actually be cool again. It it the right blend of action, humor and nostalgia… and the timing was right before Episode 3 was released to cinemas. It effectively created an entire genre, which is astounding when you stop to think about it.
Over the years I’ve picked up various iterations of these Lego games. Batman, Marvel, Harry Potter, LotR among them. I completed each one’s main story without fault, and spent some minor amount of time collecting the extra bricks along the way. Yet, the only one that ever hit 100% was the Original Trilogy version. There’s a rather laser focus in that series, where nearly all the levels are linear, and the options while wide, are still limited. Unlocking more red bricks to add larger stud multipliers still feels like a gold rush. Just had the right amount of dopamine hits. Games since then have opted to go wider, notably the Harry Potter and Marvel games. It just feels like a never ending amount of content, and frankly gimmicky efforts to get any extra collectables. Tedious.
The Skywalker Saga has been out a few weeks now. I picked it up and have played some with the kids, some alone. It’s hard to explain how much I have the original trilogy’s layout tattooed in my memory. I could probably play it blindfolded. This version is the same story, but told in an entirely different method, with voice acting throughout (no more gibberish!).
Most notably, the camera is no longer fixed, so you’re in a fully 3D world now.. It sounds relatively minor, but it really changes the approach to level design. Plus the improved graphics make the gameplay the same quality as the cutscenes… it’s quite impressive. The older versions had a diorama-type layout, with relatively linear and contained environments. This isn’t open world in the typical sense, but much more fluid. As a result of this, there are many fewer vehicle-based quests as they were meant to give the semblance of “bigger” – I am rather happy with this change.
Second, the character differences are dramatically shrunk here. Force users, mechs, bounty hunters, stormtroopers, and scavengers are the only types now. Flyers, double jumpers and other niche skills are no longer present. Well, that’s not entirely true… as there’s now dialogue/quest options that require characters of a given faction to trigger. The net result is that there are simply more viable characters to play with, and once you complete the main game, pretty much 100% of the rest of the game is open to explore. – This is a big QoL change as it removes a lot of tedium.
The world itself no longer has a single central hub, and instead covers 24 planets related to the 9 episodes. Each planet has its own hub and space sector, which lead into the various story arcs. The hubs themselves are full of things to collect – bricks, characters, ships. Either you get it outright, or need to complete a small quest. Space is also pretty neat, you can eventually fight/capture capital ships in neat small activity. – This feels like bloat, in the same vein as Ubisoft add map icons to fill time. It’s a good hour+ per hub.
Which brings me to the last change, which is the introductions of quests. They could be very small things, like ride a Gonk 10 feet to a platform. There are medium ones that are on the same planet, or in the adjoining space. Then there are the long ones, which require visiting multiple planets, or going through a few space battles to the next bit. – I generally dislike this change as a completionist. It’s just not possible to 100% any specific zone until you pretty much hit 50% on every other one… this likely won’t bother most people.
In the end, I still think that the Original Trilogy version is the best of the bunch, primarily because of the very focused design. The Skywalker Saga fits just under that, primarily for the QoL changes brought about, but suffers from the sprawl … which is sort of understandable when you’re covering 9 movies. In that context, it’s a generational leap for the platform, and a good foundation for anything else that comes in the future. Very impressive.