Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga lets you play as Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windo, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and pretty much every other Star Wars character from the movies. The catch? Instead of playing in a conventional sci-fi world complete with dialogue, voice-acting, and realistic renderings of the iconic characters, you’re playing in a world of Lego blocks.
Feral Interactive‘s port of the successful Star Wars Lego series for the Mac is faithful to the source material: Lego Star Wars is cute, funny, and fully of geeky moments sure to delight fans.
Lego Star Wars, like the rest of the Lego series of adventure games, is meant for a kid audience but can also be appreciated by adults. Though the “Lego” designation conjures up images of creating elaborate block creations, the series has always been a bit more humble in its ambitions. You’re playing an adventure game made of Lego pieces where you’ll ocassionally need to construct certain Lego machines and objects to advance. It’s a much narrower focus, but it makes problem solving for kids much easier and the gameplay much smoother.
To construct anything in the game out of Legos, all you have to do is use “the force,” which means you just press “J,” and suddenly Lego objects get constructed. You don’t mash Lego pieces together, follow instructions, and you don’t use your imagination. For adults who grew up with the blocks, the scope can be a bit disappointing. Still, gamers of all ages can appreciate that the characters, ships, planets, and most game objects look like they have been constructed from Legos.
Gameplay allows the player to act out slightly altered, shortened versions of scenes from all six Star Wars films. That means you get to play as Luke Skywalker as he fights Darth Vader in the final scene of Episode VI, as Anakin Skywalker as he races his pod in the beginning of Episode I, and as Princess Leia as she tries to attach a message to R2D2 in Episode IV.
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga starts off with you taking control of a little Lego-version of Qui Gon Jinn, one of the protagonists from Episode I. The game’s third-person perspective lets you see most of the many game environments, including Mos Eisley Cantina. The cantina serves as a central hub with six doors that correspond to each episode of the Star Wars saga. Now, inside each episode door are six more doors, doors that represent episode levels. You can make Qui Gon Jinn enter any of these doors to start the game. You do not have to play episodes in order, but you do have to play episode levels in succession.
Though the levels are recreations of actual Star Wars scenes, they follow a similar pattern no matter the plot point in the larger story. You’ll find yourself mostly tasked with rescuing characters, chasing villains, constructing objects and unlocking hidden passages. As you travel about levels, you are required to find certain hidden, and not-so-hidden items. You also must search for small Lego pieces known as “studs,” small red Lego bricks and Lego canisters. If you find enough studs, canisters and bricks, you can unlock new game features such as new levels and objects. When you complete some level tasks, or entire levels, you receive Gold Bricks. You must get 160 gold bricks in the game in order to officially complete it.
You can use the game’s standard WASD control scheme to control character movements, or you can customize your own controls. You can also use specialty buttons to jump, use the force, and fight with a light saber. Unfortunately, regardless of what control scheme you choose, you can’t use your mouse. This leads to some annoying camera issues—you’re likely to get dizzy playing the game, as its self-adjusting camera never knows what angle it should be shooting from.
For the most part, game levels are enjoyable. During gameplay, I delved fully into my geekiness and took great joy in being able to play as R2D2, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. I liked getting into light saber fights, using the force, and collecting Lego pieces. I found most game missions required me to think to complete them, a game trait I admire.
That said, my biggest complaint with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is that I never felt threatened when playing it. When your character dies in a level, you lose some studs, but almost immediately the character comes back to life and you keep playing. You can take as long as you want to complete the level, as there are no time limits in the game. The only real challenge is finding all of the hidden studs and items that litter the world—but these aren’t essential to completing each level. Now, admittedly, I am not Lego Star Wars’ main audience—kids are—but I do think young people need to be challenged more, and I don’t think the game demands enough of them.
I ran Lego Star Wars on a 2GHz Intel Core Duo iMac with a 128 MB ATI Radeon X1600 graphics processor. The game ran rather smoothly on the system with few caveats. Though game environments, like Mos Eisley Cantina and the Death Star, were solidly rendered with no visible pixilation problems, the character faces and bodies seemed to get a little pixilated from time to time, making it hard for me to see all their details. Once in a while, there were some clipping issues but some instances were rare. To Feral’s credit, even during the more intense action sequences, there was rarely any pixilation or frame rate issues.
Macworld’s buying advice
If the target demographic of Lego Star Wars is purely kids, then Feral Interactive has ported a game that is worthy of their attention. It’s cute, geeky, has plenty of funny slapstick moments, and isn’t too challenging. Adults may be put off by the low difficulty level, but Star Wars fans of all ages will enjoy the playing as Lego versions of their favorite characters as they work to complete recreations of the movies’ best scenes.
[Sam Felsing is an editorial intern for Macworld.]