Lego game are buggy. It’s annoying, but the charm and fun the games typically provide is usually more than enough to make up for the random glitches. Nearly every time I played Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, however, I encountered a game-stopping bug and was forced to replay the entire level.It’s just a fact you have to put up with if you enjoy playing them. Events occasionally won’t trigger and every now and again a character gets stuck. As marvellous as the rest of the game is, it’s not marvellous enough to counter that kind of recurring frustration. And that’s heartbreaking.
Lego TFA refines that outline into something more sophisticated. Most Lego games combine the plots of two or three movies to provide enough action to be worth your while, but Lego TFA fills in bits of backstory that you didn’t get to see on screen. We’ve had loads of Lego games at this point, all basically sticking to the loose formula of following the plot of their source material, like a movie or book, combining breezy combat with puzzle solving and item collection. You’re not just tagging along with Rey and Finn as they take on The First Order, you’re also hunting rathtars with Han Solo and rescuing Admiral Ackbar with Poe. It’s an incredibly smart bit of fan service that sucks you into the universe while also giving you enough to keep you busy.
Lego games have also had their share of trouble making their characters, especially the female ones, interesting and fun to play. (Breaking glass by shrieking is not a cool power, Lego.) Everyone is cool in TFA, though. Rolling around as BB-8 is great, throwing grenades as Chewbacca is fantastic, beating the snot out of Stormtroopers as Rey is a hoot. The mix of abilities and the level design ensures that player 2 always gets to do something as interesting as player 1, which is tricky to get right in co-op games. There are maybe a few too many characters to unlock (I’m not convinced we need all those droids), but hardcore Star Wars fans will undoubtedly appreciate the attention to detail.
And the flying. Oh, man, the flying. Taking on Starkiller Base in Poe’s X-wing is a childhood fantasy made real and fleeing Jakku in the Millennium Falcon was as thrilling for me as it was for Rey. There’s not a lot of variety in the space battles, as you’ll have to shoot down a certain number of TIE fighters or launch torpedoes at a specific number of whatevers, but the lack of variety doesn’t really matter when you hear the pew pew sound of your blasters.
What does matter, however, is how your X-wing can mysteriously end up completely off screen, leaving you to navigate solely by reticle. Lego TFA isn’t overly demanding of your skills, but fighting both the First Order and the flight controls sucks a lot of joy out of those levels. But, hey, at least Poe’s ship doesn’t just freeze in place, the way Darth Vader did while he and Luke were fighting the Emperor. (Lego TFA oddly starts with the Battle of Endor. Weird choice, but it’s a fun level, so go with it.) But perhaps getting stuck is a Jedi thing, because Rey did the same thing later, her tiny Lego limbs flapping in mid air as Finn watched helpless from a nearby ledge. Apparently embarrassed by her predicament, Rey vanished entirely from another level, leaving BB-8 unable to help produce the cup of coffee necessary to move on.
The list of game-stopping glitches goes on and on. A box I needed to deliver got stuck and there was no way to reset it or even revert to a previous checkpoint. I’m on my fourth attempt at finishing the finale because my first three tries have ended with one tech issue or another. And so on and so on. Lego TFA gets so much so right; it’s funny, it adapts the movie in inventive ways, expanding on what’s there while staying true to the spirit of the characters. There’s a great level where Leia has to help get the Falcon ready for a mission by loading it with fuel and Wookie Cookies, and she speaks to the NPCs with the weary authority that Carrie Fisher brought to the film. The game really understands this universe and these people, and respects them. It knows how much you love them, and it loves them, too. Which doesn’t matter if you can’t play the damn thing.
So long as you don’t run into any glitches, you’ll love Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you’re a Star Wars superfan, you’ll lose your mind geeking out over tiny details, but it’s delightful even if you don’t know the name of the girl who tipped off The First Order that BB-8 was at Maz’s place. (Yep, she’s unlockable, too.) Maybe there will be a patch and most of these problems will go away, and maybe you’ll get lucky and not run into them in the first place. But for now, be wary. Lego games are meant to replayed, but it should be because you want to find all the secrets, not because C-3P0 is stuck. Again.