Version tested: Wii
Every true fan can remember at least one incident where Star Wars brought tears to their eyes. By "true", we mean the kind of prequel apologist who will go so far as to agree that yes, Revenge of the Sith isn't as good as Return of the Jedi, but that's because it's even better.
Some of us remember crying in the cinema when we were six, terrified at the prospect of Luke falling down the big bottom hole in the sand. Some of us remember crying in the cinema when we were 27, realising as the yellow text scrolled upwards this was the last time we'd ever watch a Star Wars film for the first time. Some of us remember crying at a dinner party last week because still people don't get it yes okay fine Jar Jar blah blah don't you understand there's a war going on up there.
Some of us were hoping the arrival of a Star Wars game that a) isn't rubbish b) lets you lightsaber enemies by actually swinging a controller would bring tears to our eyes. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga hasn't quite made us cry, but it does fulfil both criteria and it is a great game.
Or rather, it's a great collection of games. The Complete Saga brings together both Lego SW titles for the first time, so that's all six games based on all six movies on one disc for an entirely reasonable price (GBP 39.99 for the Wii version, which is the one we're reviewing).
Long, long ago...
For those who aren't familiar, the Lego Star Wars games are all about bright, bouncy platform action. You get to play as a wide range of characters from the movies, each with special abilities. There are plenty of puzzles to solve and there's loads of stuff to collect. The co-op mode lets another player join in at any time, and the new PS3 and Xbox 360 versions offer an online co-op option. The games are designed to appeal to a wide range of ages so the level of difficulty isn't very high.
The big thing, at least as far as the Wii version is concerned, is that lightsaber mechanic. The first time you swing the remote and your character swings their saber is a real thrill. Especially when the remote vibrates and you hear the familiar whooshhzzz sound emit from its speaker.
But the novelty does wear off. Combat was never the strong point of the Lego Star Wars games, and chucking in motion-sensing doesn't improve it. True, slicing through enemies with the remote is highly satisfying and much more fun than pressing a button. However, you quickly realise there's no real skill involved. Your character will perform the same moves no matter how you twist the remote. It's also a lot more tiring than pressing a button; older Jedi must suffer from terrible RSI.
You can also use the remote along with the Nunchuk to build Lego structures, shaking them to speed up the process. This isn't essential though, and again, the novelty wears off. It might have been nice if you could use the remote to steer vehicles, for example in the Mos Espa podrace level, but there's no option to do this. After an hour or two you'll probably find yourself sticking to traditional button pushing and analogue stick waggling.
The Complete Saga features a handful of new levels. The press blurb lists the new Zam Wessell chase in Episode II as a highlight. It's not. Your vehicle is tricky to control and there's no sense of speed. You spend a lot of time blowing up generators just so you can get on with the race, and the fiddly controls make this tedious.
Some of the characters have new abilities - for example, Qui-Gon can use the Force to throw a single droid at a big group to take them out. All the prequel characters can build, but you can use Jedi to do this anyway. There are new power-ups, such as the one which extends the range of light sabers. They're nice additions but again, they don't change the game fundamentally.
In the mix
New playable characters include Watto, Zam Wessell and Boss Nass. There are more than 120 in total, and you can mix and match their body parts as in the other games to create new characters. Fun for kids but we were never big fans of this feature, what with being 30, and being quite mature actually despite Pat going on about how Star Wars is rubbish and one day we'll grow up and realise this and can we stop talking about the ripped robe theory and get on with executing the European content plan please.
All things considered, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga isn't worth buying if you've already played the first two games. Waving the remote like a lightsaber is initially fun, but the mechanic isn't complex enough to keep you engaged for very long. There are some decent extras, but they don't really change the gameplay.
This isn't a bad thing. The gameplay was great in the first place, so why muck about? If you haven't played the other Lego SW titles, and you fancy a bit of straightforward, enjoyable platform action, this is an essential purchase. It's also great for younger gamers, especially if you like to play co-operatively. And the sharp, shiny, varied visuals make it one of the best-looking games on the Wii. Star Wars fans will love it - even the ones who don't cry at, "You were my brother, Anakin!" Philistines.
8 / 10