It's no secret that LucasArts' upcoming LEGO Star Wars II is shaping up to be an assured follow-up to last year's sleeper hit that reimagined the Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith as LEGO-fied adventures. The Traveler's Tales-developed trilogy compilation wraps up its look at the Star Wars saga by revisiting Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. After getting a good look at the console versions of the game, we recently got a look at a work-in-progress version of the PSP edition of the game, which is looking like a smart portable version of the appealing platformer.
The PSP follows the presentation of its console counterparts, albeit with a few tweaks to accommodate some necessary changes and exclusive content. The core game remains the same: It will drop you into the cantina from Mos Eisley spaceport on the desert planet of Tatooine. The rowdy bar will feature a number of different rooms for you to explore. The main three rooms will house the missions associated with each of the three films. The missions will play out in much the same way, letting you go through them in story mode and, once you've cleared story, go back in freeplay using any characters you like. New to the PSP is a third play-through option, challenge mode, which sends you on a timed run through a level to find the pieces to characters from the previous game. Each level will have a number of different collectible elements, minikits to create ships you can use in bonus rounds, special bricks that unlock extras to buy in the shop, and, of course, the LEGO bits that will serve as the game's currency.
The levels will follow the same blueprint from the previous game and let you play through key moments in each of the films. The big addition to the experience is the ability to use vehicles and minor tweaks to the mechanics that lets all characters build LEGO objects from pieces they see. Overall the game feels tighter than the original, with a better amount of variety. An extra perk to the action is a character-creation feature that lets you make your own custom LEGO character from pieces of the characters you've unlocked in the game. You'll have a metric ton of LEGOs to work with once you open up all the characters in the game.
The game controls map out just fine to the PSP and, combined with the game's accessible control scheme, make for a good experience. Each character, with the exception of droids, packs heat and has unique attacks. Jedi and bounty hunters have their proprietary "mad skillz," which let the Jedi use the Force and bounty hunters fling thermal detonators.
The visuals in the game are easily comparable to its PS2 counterpart. The characters and environments sport a clean, simple look with occasional flourishes of detail. As with the console games, the game mixes more-realistic elements with LEGO touches to properly re-create the locales seen. The action in the game, its LEGO license notwithstanding, gets pretty insane in spots, and the PSP capably handles the madness with a fairly solid frame rate. The only awkward element is the camera, which can occasionally wind up in a weird angle that makes adventuring more of a challenge than it should be. Another occasional annoyance is the game's loads, which, while generally passable, can drag on in a few places.
Audio in the game is sparse but covers the proper bases. The key themes from each of the films are front and center, providing the perfect accompaniment to the action. Authentic movie sound effects are used to good effect to round out the mix. As always, the LEGO stars aren't a chatty bunch, relying on some well-placed mumbling to sell the dialogue.
Based on what we've played, LEGO Star Wars II is looking like an appealing PSP game with a lot of content to plow through and some welcome multiplayer support. The game looks as though it's made a smooth transition to the PSP, with good looks and solid control. Anyone looking for some breezy fun should keep an eye out for the game when it ships early next month. Look for our full review then.