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Monday August 28, 2006 8:06 pm

LEGO Star Wars 2 Looking Great at PAX

Lego Star Wars II CoverThis past weekend we visited the absolutely crazy floor of the Penny Arcade Expo in Bellevue, WA. The floor was chock full of some great looking MMORPGs and FPS titles for the hardcore gamers, but there were some really great looking less serious games as well. Chief among them was the highly anticipated LEGO Star Wars II, the sequel that tells the stories of Episodes IV-VI in brickalicious format.

See our full thoughts after the jump…

We had a chance to sit down with the title and can tell you it’s looking to be every bit as fun as the original, with some notable improvements. The game graphically is looking on-par if not a little bit better than the original, but the real improvements show in the gameplay. Of course, as everyone’s heard already the vehicle-based missions have seen drastic improvements and are much more open (see the video!). In fact, vehicles are included in the middle of some levels we discovered, such as Luke’s landspeeder being available in the middle of Mos Eisley. It was really cool to see levels where vehicle-based missions were mixed in with the “on foot” portions (unlike the original game, where all the vehicle-based levels felt like tacked-on “on rails” shooters).

There were a bunch of other minor improvements as well, including more responsive / sensitive controls, the ability to punch enemies in close proximity to you, and the addition of hidden areas that will require multiple play-throughs to open up. For example, at one point in a level we saw a door that would only open for bounty hunters (Boba Fett!), but the character had yet to be unlocked. So in order to really see everything each level has to offer, you’ll probably need to open all the characters and then play-through again. Some folks might think this is a cheap way to increase the length of the game, but frankly the combination of ridiculously cute lego figures and Star Wars doesn’t get old, and you’ll be happy to see these levels more than once.

There are still a few minor annoyances that remain from the original game, but they still don’t overall detract from the fun factor. Still, if there’s ever a LEGO Star Wars III, we’d like to see a camera system that doesn’t constrain two players to stay close together - maybe an automatic split-screen mode would be a good addition? Also, the difficulty of the game appears to be quite low. Jedi-type players can block just about any attack with their lightsabers and seem slightly over-powered. Still, I could even make an argument that these aren’t really weaknesses in the game given the target market and the play style. The constraining camera is good in some ways in that it forces players to talk and work cooperatively, and the addition of fairly powerful Jedi characters means the emphasis of the game isn’t on completing difficult battles, but instead on finding secrets and working to unlock the whole game - a great strategy for bringing the less hardcore gamers to the table.

Overall, we can say with confidence that if you loved the original LEGO Star Wars, you’re going to love this sequel even more. Not only do you get to see the

better

old trilogy in all its bricky glory, but you’re getting a more refined gameplay experience that, while still not overly challenging, brings a lot of fun and humor to the table.

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