LEGOs have topped the list of nostalgic childhood playthings for several generations. When paired with a film franchise that people have such admiration for, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens becomes a game that anyone should be able to pick up and have a great time with. Still, the classic licensed game question remains: is it actually any good?  While past adaptations like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed have taken a more mature approach,  Traveller’s Tales’ sticks with the tried-and-true formula from previous LEGO games. Where recent LEGO games such as LEGO The Hobbit or LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean have exhausted the standard LEGO game formula, LEGO Star Wars does it justice. Traveller’s Tales retains the qualities that make their games charming, such as humor, Lego inspired environments, and light-hearted storytelling. They’ve wisely added gunplay elements that not only fit in a Star Wars game, but are impressively up to par with modern cover based shooter games. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t need to completely shift in style, but the changes are well-executed and alleviate LEGO’s franchise fatigue.

LEGO’s video game franchise has many features that stand out from other long-running series, most notably the gameplay. LEGO games have historically contained puzzles that rely heavily on crafting objects out of the iconic bricks, and LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is no different. You will craft sections of pipe to direct airflow, railing to move cranes, weapons to destroy obstacles, and countless other contraptions. Many of the puzzles will have you build part of a contraption and progress with the puzzle, then require you to destroy your previously built item to construct the next part of the machinery. While a few puzzle types are occasionally repeated, they are fresh and thought provoking for the most part. Each character is more useful for a given puzzle, and it’s very rare to solve one without utilizing the level’s full roster of beloved Star Wars heroes. This makes playing cooperatively feel like actual teamwork.

LEGO Heroes

Each character has a unique set of skills. From General Leia who can command Resistance troops, to Rey who can traverse the environment, each hero is efficient with a specific aspect of the game like traversal, fighting, or solving puzzles. This includes the enormous roster of miscellaneous characters, most of whom have the purposes of obtaining collectable minikits and carbonite bricks. With the majority of dialogue pulled straight out of the movie, and the remaining conversations emulated in a fairly convincing fashion, cut-scenes and interactions feel genuine. Personally, I prefer it to the classic grunts and gibberish of other LEGO games.

Traveller’s Tales injects the humor of LEGO games into Star Wars: The Force Awakens by creating its own take on the cast. Han Solo lends a charming and sarcastic wink to interactions with other characters. Leia remarks that she is the General any time someone tells her what to do. By far, though, my favorite is Kylo Ren, whose obsession with Darth Vader rivals that of teenage girls with the newest boy band. The legion of First Order Stormtroopers, as in the previous LEGO Star Wars games, relieve the serious tone of certain events, and bring an over-the-top whimsy that only they can pull off.

Stormtroopers

Another aspect of the LEGO games that stands out is how LEGO blocks are integrated into the environment, and LEGO Star Wars handles this well with some exceptions. There were several notable areas that should have been less real, and more LEGO. Even several ships looked more like their movie counterpart instead of their LEGO equivalent. Seeing a photo-realistic X-Wing wrecked in the desert directly after flying Poe Dameron’s LEGO X-Wing did not make visual sense. However, these objections aside, the fusion of actual environments and LEGO constructs make for a world that feels organic. Jakku is a great example of this. Having LEGO huts that sit on top of sand, or the half buried Star Destroyer, looks great. You could even argue that while the sand looks real, each grain of sand is a really small LEGO stud, and a billion of those together creates an authentic desert.

The music in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes straight from the movie itself. John William’s fantastic score is used to its fullest in the game. When the epochal themes from the movies began, I was requisitely emotional, as most Star Wars fans would be. The game would have benefited with having more original tracks, but what was included still set the atmosphere very well.

Lego X-Wing

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO games to new heights in the same way that its source film corrects the irritation caused by the Star Wars prequels. Unfortunately, I ran into several bugs that ranged from animation clipping to full game crashes, which happened on 3 separate occasions. Hopefully Traveller’s Tales will address these major issues soon, and improve the overall reliability of the game. Nothing breaks a game’s flow like a complete crash. Other than those objections, The Force Awakens looks polished and feels convincing. LEGO Star Wars hits a very specific niche for gamers and movie goers of all ages, and it’s a great way to spend time with your friends, significant others, or children thanks to its focus on local co-op. The story is nothing new to the 99% of fans, but its take on events and characters from the movie are unique. If you’re a fan of LEGOs, Star Wars, or both, this game is definitely worth your time to check out.