Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Xbox One) REVIEW – Limited Power
April 5, 2022
PC, PS5, PS4, XSXS, XBO, NS
Nostalgia is one of the most powerful influences in the world, and nothing generates nostalgia quite like the Star Wars franchise. Amidst three distinct trilogies of iconic films and dozens of other successful multimedia supplements, such as video games, comic books, and novels, there’s a very good chance that most of us grew up on some rendition of Star Wars. Fans young and old have long awaited the release of Traveller’s Tales’ latest turn at their now 17-year-old blockbuster Lego debut, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.
With reports of vast gameplay improvements, a flurry of delays, and a mountain of ever-growing anticipation, has Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga managed to meet Star Wars fans’ ever unreasonable expectations? Sadly, the answer is a sometimes disappointing mixed bag.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a great game at its core. The new combat mechanics feel amazing and never grow stale, welcoming tons of experimentation and brutal comboing. The third person camera and control changes bring the gameplay up to more modern standards, letting you explore the world with so much more depth and freedom. Character-specific classes make it easy to sort through and choose your favorites from the massive list of playable characters, while the new leveling system adds depth to what said characters are capable of. Side content is literally coming out of every brick and cranny, demanding deep exploration of the highly detailed open-world hubs and multipathed levels. And through every aspect of the game, it’s clear that the developers love everything to do with Star Wars from the prequels to the sequels, without falter, and have the confidence needed to poke a healthy amount of fun at it.
Unique character specific animations, like the flashy way Anakin twirls his lightsaber when holstering it or how Ben Kenobi swings his saber like he does during his battle with Vader in A New Hope, are pulled straight from the films but presented in an exaggerated way that shows the dev team’s level of comfort in expressing their deep knowledge and understanding of Star Wars’ vast character roster. Open world areas are crafted with loving detail, most expanding upon what was even shown in the films (I can now distinguish the differences between Jakku and Tatooine after playing this game, something I never thought possible). Cutscenes have tons of reverence for the source material while actively poking fun at it through poignant slapstick and a healthy dose of extended universe allusions whenever possible. They even went as far as to bring back loads of the voice actors from the fan-favorite Clone Wars TV series, who do brilliant work recreating scenes from the films.
Unfortunately, the act of playing the game (as of now on Version 188.8.131.52 on Xbox), is a practice in frustration, confusion, and, ultimately, disappointment. Lego games, especially those as of late, have come to be known for their instability. When it comes to softlocks and glitches, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the most unstable one I’ve played yet.
Although my maiden hours with the game were relatively smooth sailing, the longer my playtime ran on, the more oddities I encountered. Parts of levels simply cease to exist, sending me into an endless void that would require a restart. Puzzle objects despawn without warning, sometimes fixed by returning to the puzzle later, but most often requiring a full application restart to come back to. HUD elements go from spotty to completely missing, to the point where objective markers and mission descriptions are non-existent, leading to yet another restart. And with a staggering amount of side content, I could imagine pulling my hair out trying to fight the glitches to achieve 100% completion in this particular Lego game.
For those interested in the local drop-in cooperative play that’s been a staple for the series since day one, it’s very simple to connect another controller and play with friends or family. Though with the latest improvements to gameplay and the more standardized third person camera controls, co-op is an entirely different beast from past entries. The screen is now split between both players and cluttered with mini-maps, various icons, and massive waypoints that hardly fit both players’ screens. And despite all my searching through settings menus, it seems the split screen is locked in its vertical orientation, making navigating some larger areas confusing and disorienting when you can’t get a lock on the horizon.
A simple solution to the screen real-estate issue would be some kind of online multiplayer where each co-op partner gets their own screen, but as previously reported, no option exists. Prior Lego games not having online options (aside from Lego Harry Potter, oddly enough) makes sense in a game focused on playing locally with children, but with a game like Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga vying for the nostalgia of 20/30-something millenials who grew up on the 2005 original, the lack of an online multiplayer option is disappointing to say the least.
Despite all the drawbacks, there is a really good game here, with love and care pouring out of every frame. I was delighted by all of the references, running jokes, genuinely fantastic voice acting, and high flying combat system. The original and prequel trilogies specifically reawakened my nostalgia for the original Lego Star Wars games, even as the devs made sure not to repeat concepts and levels from the originals when they could. Having the collectibles tied directly to character progression was a stroke of genius too, making completion feel more rewarding than ever as your characters grow stronger and your abilities get more useful.
But there is also a very flawed game here. The thought of 100% completing Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga terrifies me knowing how precariously it could fail on me at any moment. Constantly being thrown out of bounds, spawning into empty rooms devoid of progression items, puzzle solutions disappearing, and in one case even a loss of picture following a cutscene trigger were enough to have me restarting the application after every mission in fear of running into a progress-halting bug. I really hope with future updates that these issues become non-existent, but in its current state, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga can at times feel like it’s being held together by toothpicks and glue rather than sharp invincible Lego branded building bricks.
An Xbox key was provided by PR for this review.
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Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a blindingly bright love letter to the entire series with a sheen that’s often diminished by its own technical shortcomings.
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