LucasArts and Traveller's Tales happened upon an alchemical combination of nostalgia with the 2005 release of Lego Star Wars, a jovial action adventure game that mined a pan-generational affection for both George Lucas' space opera and those colorful Danish building blocks. Its 2006 sequel was better, largely because it was based on the original trilogy rather than the prequels. Now Traveller's Tales has wrapped the contents of both games into a single package with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. That's a great deal of content, and if you haven't played either Lego Star Wars games, this is a solid package made even better by improved graphics, new levels, and online cooperative play. If you have played either Lego Star Wars games, though, you'll be getting a lot of recycled content here, which makes The Complete Saga harder to recommend.
The basic appeal of Lego Star Wars is that it lets you act out some of the more memorable Star Wars moments with cute little Lego people, a concept that hits so many different nostalgia triggers with such precision that it almost seems sinister. The game itself is an action adventure with a heavy focus on puzzle-solving and cooperative play, often at the same time. You'll make your way through the Naboo palace, the cloning facility on Kamino, the streets of Mos Eisley, the corridors of the Death Star, and other distinct locales, with a small party of various characters in tow. While there are literally dozens of characters that you can unlock and play as, they all fit neatly into a few different character classes, each with unique and appropriate abilities.
Though you can control only one character at a time, you can switch between which character you're controlling on the fly, and much of the game is deliberately designed to force you to switch back and forth between characters often, making full use of their various abilities. Of course, all the characters and vehicles, and large portions of the environments, are made out of Legos, which creates a surreal, playful kind of aesthetic. It also figures into the gameplay pretty often, as you often have to build objects to progress. The game breaks away from the action adventure format on occasion for a vehicle sequence, such as the pod race from The Phantom Menace or the attacks on the Death Star. They're rarely as polished or intuitive as the action when you're on foot, but they work well enough and break up the action nicely.
The group-based format has always made Lego Star Wars ideal for playing with another person, and in The Complete Saga for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, you can finally play the game cooperatively over the Internet. This is far and away the most significant addition to this package, and it's been nicely integrated, making it easy for another player to jump into the game at almost any point. In addition to online play, The Complete Saga features a number of other upgrades, mostly pretty minor. A few new gameplay sequences, such as the pursuit of bounty hunter Zam Wessell through Coruscant from the beginning of Attack of the Clones, have been added. Other sequences have been changed, such as the gunship cavalry chapter near the end of Attack of the Clones, which now has less of a gun-blazing shooter feel and features some puzzle elements.
Since this is the first time the content from the original Lego Star Wars has appeared on current-generation consoles, all of the visuals have been enhanced for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It makes the whole game look about as good as Lego Star Wars II did when it was on the 360 last year, with sharper textures, a nice plasticized shine on the characters, and loads of focus effects. Save for widescreen support, the Wii version doesn't look much different from the original releases, nor does it make much use of the system's motion controls. Without the improved graphics or the online play found in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, The Complete Saga on the Wii is a bit less appealing.
Many of the changes and additions in The Complete Saga are the types that only those who've played through Lego Star Wars I or II would notice, and that's the rub. For those who've already played one of the Lego Star Wars games, a full half of what The Complete Saga has to offer will be recycled. The online co-op play in the 360 and PS3 versions helps, since playing the game with another person can change the dynamic and pacing of the game quite a bit, but otherwise it would be much more cost-effective to just pick up a used copy of the one you haven't played.