An imaginative combination of sci-fi mythos and childhood toys, Lego Star Wars II successfully blends action and humor.

User Rating: 8.1 | LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy X360
To many young people, Legos represent the building blocks of childhood fantasies. These versatile toys have pioneered the Wild West, defended medieval castles, and sailed through pirate-ridden waters. In Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, the player ventures for the second time into the magical universe of the classic Star Wars films. Although slightly simplistic, this third-person adventure offers a good balance of combat, platforming, and puzzle-solving. Fans of either Star Wars or Legos (or better yet, both) will find added value in the "realistic" Lego physics and delightful Star Wars comedy. The game has several single-player modes, ranging from the usual story line (Episodes IV--VI) to special bounty hunter missions and vehicle challenges. Multiple single-player modes and plenty of unlockables translate into extra replay. A majority of the levels will see the player exploring recognizable Star Wars locations on foot, but there's a nice variety of machines to drive on air and land, as well.

Carefully scrutinizing and probing the environment will yield almost endless rewards; there are many hidden areas, some of which can only be accessed by certain character types (e.g., stormtroopers). As levels are completed, new characters will be awarded, others will be unlocked for purchase, and they can all be used to play through completed levels again in free play. Dedicated players will want to visit every level at least twice, just to discover all the secret areas and the treasure they contain. In fact, this will be necessary in order to find all the Lego studs (the basic currency used to buy extra characters, vehicles, cheats, etc). For multi-player, a second person can join the main player at any time. (I have not personally tested this feature.)

Gameplay is fairly smooth, overall. The basic controls are easy to master, and the camera rarely causes problems. Some of the land vehicle controls could have been more precise, but more of the player's vehicle-time will be spent in the air, where the extra space makes up for a bit of sloppy handling. The level of difficulty is below-average for action adventure games. On some levels, you may have to die a few times before you figure out the best course of action, but the only penalty is a deduction of Lego studs. Ease and accessibility do not have to be drawbacks, though, as long as the player realizes that completing the basic story mode will not be a major challenge. The game simply takes a forgiving approach, and if you thrive on difficulty, you may want to look elsewhere. Graphically, this product won't compare to the prettiest 360 games available (e.g., Gears of War), but it's far from ugly. The simple color schemes and textures are well-suited to a game built from Legos, so to speak. The sound is everything you would expect from Stars Wars, no less but unfortunately no more. In a word, it's predictable. The familiar musical score will be frequently punctuated by the sound of lightsabers and blasters, and that manages to enliven the audio somewhat. Still, most of the sound effects could have been plucked from half-a-dozen older Star Wars games. On the bright side, the game's sense of humor is fairly original and successful. Fans of the movies will pick up on more of the jokes, but even newcomers to Star Wars (do such benighted mortals still exist?) can enjoy the whimsical touches of humor that pop up during cutscenes and regular gameplay. The game currently retails for around $20, a very reasonable price. If you have the slightest interest in Star Wars, Legos, or casual action-adventures, pick it up and enjoy!

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