"Star Wars" and Lego plastic blocks might not seem like a match but they fit together surprisingly well in a new video game.
Even if you're fed up with "Star Wars" merchandise (I mean really, will it EVER end?), "Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy" (Rated E10+, all platforms, $29.99-$49.99) is a new addition to the always-expanding universe that's actually worth a look.
This union of blocks and a venerable sci-fi franchise makes for an effortless, if sometimes irksome, gaming experience.
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Like some alternative galaxy made entirely of plastic bricks a long time ago, the game lets you relive Episodes IV, V and VI as any number of short, squat Lego characters.
This is the trilogy that made "Star Wars" the cultural phenomenon it still is: no annoying Jar Jar Binks or soul-crushingly bad romantic dialogue to muck things up.
The story closely follows the events in the movies, and settings include Lego spaceships, cantinas and forest moons.
And there's actually more to it than some in-your-face sales gimmick for Lego toys.
This game openly smirks at the source material and had me (a product of the 1970s who grew up transfixed by George Lucas' empire) laughing out loud on numerous occasions.
The gameplay is quite simple, with basic controls to move around, jump, shoot your laser blaster and swing around your light saber — and build.
Building is, of course, what distinguishes a game so squarely focused on plastic blocks. Throughout the game, piles of Legos can be assembled into useful structures like bridges.
You can even make complex vehicles like the strutting AT-ATs and landspeeders, which can then be driven around.
During missions, you have to constantly switch between C-3PO, R2-D2 and characters such as Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi to perform different tasks.
It's fun to play with this array of film icons-turned squat Lego characters, and some of them even have special moves.
Chewbacca can rip off arms and Darth Vader channels the dark side of the force to choke enemies, for example.
Still, some aspects had me screaming "nerf herder," just like Princess Leia. The camera angle in particular made it hard to see where I needed to go next.
The game makes up for it with an excellent cooperative mode where another person can jump in at any time to help out with missions. It's definitely the best way to play.
Another feature lets you mix and match different Lego body parts to create an assortment of odd characters that would fit right in at the Mos Eisley Cantina.
The Force is definitely strong with this one.
Three stars out of four.