Monday, 10 March 2008

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Wii)

I borrowed Lego Star Wars from Lovefilm a little while ago and have been really getting into it. I did have a slightly rocky start as it took me a little while to realise that the cantina I started in wasn't a proper level even though you could explore it and start fights with people. I eventually found the set of doors where you get to pick which part of the saga (i.e. episodes 1-6) you want to play. While not having a manual probably contributed to my initial confusion, it wasn't a problem in terms of the controls as I found it was very easy to pick up them up. One of my favourite discoveries was being able to use the z button to build stuff out of seemingly random bits of Lego, and finding out I could "use the force" on objects and characters with a blue glow around them. Plus, if your character has a sword you can swing the Wiimote to use it.

The initial appeal of the game I think for me was how it manages to combine two very familiar things in an entertaining way. Lego Star Wars looks good. I was walking past the Lego store in town the other day and I actually thougth about buying something. Plus, I know these films, especially the ones I watched as a kid, so I don't need to hear the dialogue to know what's going on in the story. It's far more enjoyable to see the Lego characters mumble and shrug while they act out classic scenes. Even better, you seem to get to be able to play all the characters at some point, unlocking more as you go on. While you can swap between a certain set in each level e.g. Obi Wan, Luke, C3PO and R2D2 in some of the earlier ones, once you've completed the challenges you can go back with any unlocked character and do the level again in free play mode. In fact, if you want to unlock hidden areas and collect everything it looks like you have to go through them all again. I wonder if this is enough incentive to do so?

That is one of the things that struck me about the game - it really feels like it's about collecting stuff. I mean of course there is the Star Wars plot and the associated challenges (rescue the girl, kill the baddies, save the world etc) but the game is really arranged around how much of what you collect and whether you have achieved "True Jedi" status on every level. I mean it was obvious from the start that you should collecting the large numbers of gold, silver and occasionaly blue studs - which are either lying around or you get from building/destroying/using the force on object. What is more interesting though is that I wanted to collect them, and collect them all if I could. I mean there are hundreds of these things, and when you destroy somethinng they fly out at you and you don't always have enough time to collect them all (which is a little annoying especially when they also spill over a ledge you can't jump down). At first I thought you needed them to buy things at the cantina. Then when I started episode one I noticed the bar at the top which started to fill up the more studs I collected. If you get enough you achieve "True Jedi" status. I still don't quite know what that means but you get a little tick at the end of the chapter if you achieve it. Td how many of the golden bricks, and mini-kits you have found and how many are left for you to discover. And I want them all, even though I'm not sure what happens if and when I manage to do so. Part of the incentive is that further aspects of the game will be unlocked in the process but I doubt that if I did manage to collect everything the outcome would be as exciting as I feel it should be. The main point though, is that the way the game has been designed means it's not just about getting to the end of each level, but it's also about exploring the entire game to unlock each section.

It's a little similar to playing Super Mario Galaxy and having the desire to collect all the star bits. I was talking to Will the other day and we agreed that we hate it when we're watching someone else play and they don't collect really obvious ones. I can't help thinking that this collecting aspect means Lego Star Wars comes across as more of platform game than an action adventure one. For example, in Zelda you do collect gems but the purpose of them is so you can buy other things that are useful to your adventures like better armour and weapons, or oil for your lantern. In contrast, in the Sonic and Mario games you collect gold (rings and coins respectively) but just to see how many you can get. Things like star bits, studs or gold coins aren't even power ups as such, at least not until you collect enough of them and get an extra life or something. Is that enough of an incentive to explain the drive to pick them all up? Something else seems to be going on here but I'm not sure what.


82jt said...

Yhere seems to be something of an obsessive compulsive nature to a lot of game playing. It's like the very fact that you _can_ collect things left right and centre leads inexplicably to you doing do, even when there's no obvious benefit to it. I found tyhe same thing happened to me when I was playing Diablo. Long after I'd levelled up to the point where I simply didn't _need_ any more money I still couldn't resist little piles of gold. If I saw an item that looked expensive on the ground, I'd take it. All my stuff was pretty much as good as it could possibly be, but I'd take it anyway - possibly becuase if I didn't then it would be gone, and some kind of possibility would have passed me by, even if it was just the possibility to lug around another bit of worthless junk until I could pass it off on some shopkeeper or such. Gems were even more addictive. I'm sure that I filled practically my entire inventory with those things, and they didn't even serve any particular purpose to a high level player.

Jo Iacovides said...

That could be what it is then - you pick them up because you can, and there is always the thought that it might be useful at some point. And who knows what might happen if you collect them all?! Plus there rarely seems to be any harm in doing so. Also, I think a lot of games teach us that we will get a reward (whether it's an extra life, or the items open up certain possibilities to you) for picking stuff up so we keep doing it. I mean, if it doesn't serve a purpose why is it there?