With the official announcement of the forthcoming Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens video game, let’s take a look back at the most recent gaming adaptation of 2015’s highest grossing movie.
*POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS*
Although Disney’s first venture into action-adventure sandbox collectible gaming, 2013’s “Disney Infinity” was somewhat lacklustre, it received a real boost following Disney’s acquisition of Marvel with the 2.0 edition bringing The Avengers, The Guardians Of The Galaxy and Spider-Man to the cartoony, knockabout fun. Naturally when it came to launch the 3.0 version, Disney turned to their other recent purchase: “Star Wars”.
The “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” playset is the third set released for the current edition of the game, following on from “The Twilight Of The Republic” and “Rise Of The Empire”. The Clone Wars-set “Twilight Of The Republic” was a blast to play. Telling its own story, it felt like a ‘lost adventure’ – a playable story which could easily have been set during the Clone Wars cartoon. The “Rise Of The Empire” set, on the other hand, may have featured the big hitting characters of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca but they were stuck in a compressed retread of the original Star Wars trilogy which skipped the planet of Bespin and the character of Lando Calrissian altogether.
The “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” playset is, unfortunately (and some may say like the film itself), closely modelled on the original trilogy which leads to a disappointingly short and unoriginal playing experience. There are some little tweaks introduced but it feels limited in scope and deeply repetitive in nature compared to the expansive freedom offered by the Prequel playset.
Split across three locations (okay, four if you count Han Solo’s freighter) the game starts you on Jakku (after an unfailable flying mission through the atmosphere in a crashing First Order TIE Fighter)
before heading to Takodana and eventually Starkiller Base. Along the way, you’ll encounter some of the movie’s characters in expanded roles (Unkar Plutt sticks around much longer) while wondering why some of the movie’s best characters are completely written out (there’s no sign of Maz Kanata despite her pivotal role in the film).
Admittedly, there’s much less scope for the game to tell a new story as there’s nothing in “The Force Awakens” which gives room for a side story but it manages to take the kinetic, high-energy fun of “The Force Awakens” and bog it down with a few too many collecting-based side quests and puzzles to solve. The source film’s huge reverence and homage to the original trilogy really hurts this video game adaptation and, in the absence of hero characters who are Force users, most of the combat action is restricted to punch/ shoot which gets old after a while.
The original playset comes with Finn and Rey (as usual, the figures are excellent; subtly cartoony without being childish) but you can buy Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren separately. Like every playset which the game has so far, the villain figures are a welcome but ultimately pointless addition because they don’t change the gameplay at all. It’s great that you can play as Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren (or even Loki, Syndrome, Ronan The Accuser, etc.) but within the playsets, there’s no villain path so you end up following the hero’s story regardless of who you are. It’s also a small disappointment that you can’t mix and match the playsets and figures between ranges. It would be fun to see Iron Man take on legions of Stormtroopers on the Death Star or see Star Lord wisecracking on Takodana. Once you find their hero tokens within the playset, however, you can play with characters from other “Star Wars” playsets (and the playset-less “Star Wars: Rebels” figures) within “The Force Awakens” which gives rise to one of the playset’s best features.
A new aspect in “The Force Awakens” is the presence of moons which are destinations in themselves so there’s a moon to visit around Jakku and one around Takodana. It’s the Takodana one where I’ve had the most fun. The moon of Takodana is (SPOILER) a secret Frist Order Trap, a technological terror base of railing-less walkways (the Empire’s Health & Safety department clearly survived the battles of Endor and Jakku) and Stormtroopers. If you’ve unlocked any of the Force using characters, you can have an absolute blast taking out an entire legion of troops without using a single weapon. You can just Force push them off walkway after walkway. It’s a blast.
Maybe I’m being too harsh on the playsets. After all, Infinity is clearly meant to be first and foremost a sandbox game but I ain’t got time for that and just want fun stories to play through with my kids; I’ll leave the world building to them. It’s still one of my favourite gaming franchises for family-friendly fun but if they expect me to keep shelling out for more playsets and figures, I’m going to want more story entertainment and playability than I got from “The Force Awakens”. Backwards compatibility with older playsets would be great too.
Next up is the Marvel: Battlegrounds playset which comes out in March and, in addition to introducing five new figures, looks to involve every other Marvel figure to date. Fingers crossed there’s a good story to go along with it.
Disney Infinity 2.0 & 3.0 Playsets Rated*:
Marvel’s The Avengers Playset 8/10
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Playset 8/10
Marvel’s Spider-Man Playset 7/10
Star Wars: Twilight Of The Republic Playset 8/10
Star Wars: Rise Of The Empire 5/10
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 6/10
*-Not including “Disney Infinity 3.0: Inside Out”
Quick editor’s note about game reviews:
I would never describe myself as a Gamer. I have a PS4 (and a Wii because pretty much the only video game Mrs Craggus will play is “Mario Kart”) and I love playing games, but for me ‘Gamer’ is a title that is earned and deserved by people who are far, far better at video games than I am; I’ve still never played an online game despite owning “Star Wars Battlefront” since it launched. I’m just too frightened of being a useless n00b. The most grown-up game I’ve played to completion is “Infamous Second Son” so I’ve got a world of discovery ahead of me (recommendations gladly accepted)!