Lego Star Wars II
I've been playing this pretty obsessively for about the past two weeks. I give it Two Dumbs Up. It's a very easy platformer (in fact, you have unlimited lives, and reappear right where you died, so it's impossible to lose!), with a ton of secret stuff to find and collect, and a ton of really funny stuff. It wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining if it wasn't playing off of something that the player is already sure to be extremely familiar with (Star Wars), but since it is, it's just hilarious to see the Lego versions of all the big scenes from the movies. They're not just Lego versions, they make a mockery of every scene with stupid little jokes. For example, when Luke gets his robotic hand installed, it gets loose and runs around clamping on to things.
A couple things to note about the game, from my perspective as a game idea thief:
- Just like with Ratchet & Clank, blowing things up (and tons of things can be blown up!) results in a huge shower of money items you get to wade through and watch them add up. Very satisfying.
- Reuse of levels - There are 18 levels that take you through the story of the 3 movies (the 3 that came out first, not the 3 that ruined the very concept of moving pictures). To fit the story, each one makes you play as certain characters. But then you can Free Play each level also, which lets you use anybody you want, and you can get to many places you couldn't in Story mode. It's fun (and economical for the developer!) to see the same place again and get to know it, while expanding on it and finding new facets like the Stormtrooper bathing area. Then they get reused again for special Bounty Hunter missions where you just need to find where someone is hiding. The fact that you have gotten to know the layout is very helpful at this point!
- It really goes without saying that having hundreds of things to unlock and buy makes me happy. One of the most fun ones here is that you can buy cheats, and when you finally get to afford the useful ones (my favorites are the ones that multiply the money you make...), you are much more powerful, so it's a sideways version of leveling up. And everybody knows I love to level up! The basic game here is trivially easy (like I said above, you literally can't lose), but the goals are set up such that actually earning things isn't. To earn the secret stuff, you need to finish each level with a certain amount of money (among about 12 other sources of secret stuff), and you lose money when you die.
- Huge variety of characters is fun. A lot of them share abilities, and probably 2/3 of them are plain old "blaster people". But there's a lot of fun to it anyway, and plenty of unique stuff to be found in between, from lightsabers to jetpacks and bombs, to the Imperial Spy that has no attacks and can only chirp into a walkie talkie. You can also build your own character, and which parts you make it out of determines which of the abilities it has.
- Not something I could steal, but it's really cool that the Lego things the characters build are completely real. You can actually watch every single piece go into place, and if you own the right pieces, you could duplicate them exactly.
Oh, and remember that scene in Empire Strikes Back when Yoda rides around on a tractor, and then they stuff a motorcycle into a washing machine and make it explode, entirely with their minds? I don't either, but it must have been in there, because it's in the game.