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Critical Reception: LucasArts'/Traveller's Tales' LEGO Star Wars II

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to the LucasArts-published, Traveller's Tales-developed LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, a multi-platform, family-friendly action title set in the Star Wars universe.
This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to the LucasArts-published, Traveller's Tales-developed LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, a multi-platform, family-friendly action title set in the Star Wars universe. The original LEGO Star Wars proved to be a surprise hit following its release in 2005, with its playful aesthetic and simple yet rewarding gameplay winning over gamers across several demographics. Thus far, LEGO Star Wars II seems to be just as well received among critics as its prequel, with the title currently earning an average review score ratio of 86% at GameRankings.com. GameSpy's Phil Theobald remains positive throughout his 4.5-out-of-5 star review. Theobald is most impressed by the fact that despite its appearance of being geared toward children, LEGO Star Wars II remains an experience that has something to offer for gamers of all ages. "Sure, they're simple enough for a kid to pick up and enjoy," says Theobald, in regards to both LEGO Star Wars and its sequel, "but there's a lot more depth below the surface." Theobald elaborates: "It might not take you long to get through the story mode, but there's still a ton to do before you truly finish the game. Some of the secrets are deviously hidden away, too, so there's a bit of a challenge to be had for someone dedicated to getting everything." According to Theobald, gamers turned off by LEGO Star Wars II's seemingly childish nature should not be dissuaded from checking out what is an otherwise solid title. "LEGO Star Wars II may not seem as cool as a 'real' Star Wars game," summarizes Theobald, "but the fact remains that it's easily one of the best titles in the franchise in recent years." Gabe Graziani of Games Radar finds that LEGO Star Wars II plays very similarly to its prequel, though the title's abundant wit and charm make up for the slight lack of freshness in gameplay. "The real juice of LEGO Star Wars II," says Graziani, "is not the gameplay as much as it is the cutesy extra bits like unlockable characters, collectible easter egg-style LEGO kits and countless inside jokes and sight gags." Nostalgia may also play a large role in one's enjoyment of LEGO Star Wars II. Graziani concludes: "LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is pretty childish, but the kiddy overtones are balanced by the remarkable reminiscence factor for fans of Episodes IV, V and VI." Ryan Davis agrees in his review at GameSpot, awarding LEGO Star Wars II a score of 7.7 out of 10, and citing the title's particular strength in nostalgia factor. "LEGO Star Wars II is an even better package than the original," Davis explains, "due almost entirely to the fact that the emotional connection to A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi is much stronger for most people." However, Davis feels that this emotional connection is somewhat weakened by the fact that the majority of the title's gameplay has been seen before in the original LEGO Star Wars. "As much fun as Lego Star Wars II is," Davis says, "it's unfortunate that it had to come second. Some of the novelty of the gameplay, as well as the concept itself, isn't quite as potent as it was the first time around." Critics agree that the LEGO Star Wars gameplay formula has not evolved much since the release of the original title in the series. LEGO Star Wars II, however, appears to surmount any lack of innovation with its original and humorous take on the original Star Wars trilogy -- a series of films that has nostalgic significance among a cross section of gamers. This sentimentality alone could very well prove to be enough to ensure LEGO Star Wars II's status as a big seller in the next several weeks, and throughout the holiday season.

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