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LEGO Star Wars demo released

[Waves hand] You'll be surprised how much you like it.

As some of you may have spotted earlier this week, Eidos has released a PC demo of its LEGO Star Wars tie-in game. It weighs in at about 200MB and you can download it from Eurofiles here.

But, hey, why should you care? It's a tie-in that replicates The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and bits of the forthcoming Revenge of the Sith - a trilogy of films that needs to go out with a bang if it's to be remembered as anything other than a disappointment by most - and uses LEGO Star Wars spin-off kits as a graphical basis. It's got "childish mediocrity" written all over it.

Except, it really hasn't. It may be geared towards the young'uns with its speechless cut sequences, occasionally pratfalling Jedi, little comic touches and, more significantly, seemingly infinite lives, but it's unquestionably one of the most visually striking things we've seen done with Star Wars in years, and it handles pretty nicely too.

You'll see all that in the demo, hopefully, but key things that impressed us included the character modelling and animation in general - there's just something cutely amusing and engaging about chunky little toy men leaping around twirling lightsabres - and in particular the basic Force powers.

You can focus these on droids - clattering them against the wall - or just objects, and the Force is often the key to making progress. It's beautifully done when it is, too, with blocks uncoupling themselves, floating through the air and reforming in different shapes. The Force is also a nice little way for the developer to wink at the gamer. Witness what happens when you use it on the chairs around the table in the first room of the demo level, set on board the Trade Federation ship from the start of The Phantom Menace.

The demo is very promising. There's a bit too much collect-all-the-bits-and-bobs, and we're curious to see how it progresses in terms of the combat, which feels a bit basic and perhaps loses the sense of spectacle once you've seen the sabre-swinging animations the first few times and watched a few droids crumble into bits. But on the whole it's a darn sight better than anyone had any right to expect, and we recommend you try it out.

With any luck, this writer's next application of Force will be to force the higher-ups to let me review it. It's due out in April on PS2, Xbox and PC. A GBA version is also due out around the same time.