GAME REVIEW: Lego Star Wars II

LucasArts (Xbox 360; also GameCube, PS2, Xbox)
Game •••• Graphics/Sound ••••
Sure, the Star Wars universe reimagined as a living, breathing Lego playset seems like it'd be strictly kid stuff, but Padawan learners and full-fledged Jedi alike will dig this game's off-kilter comedy. Parody-filled adaptations of scenes from the good films (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) will make you laugh even harder than the prequels' Anakin/Padmé love story.

As Vader, you'll choke foes using the Force. As Chewie, you'll rip the arms off of Imperials. Or go Solo and blast storm­troopers into tiny, plastic bits. You can also construct spacecraft with Lego bricks and solve surprisingly complex puzzles. Then there's the ability to mix and match body parts from 50 playable characters. (It's a stitch to see Vader's head on slave Leia's bodacious bod!)

Of all the versions of the game, the Xbox 360 edition looks sharpest. It features shinier, more reflective surfaces and a slick, select-focus effect that gives a slight blur to objects that are too close or far away. The characters look exactly like the Lego toys that many of us (I mean, kids) play with, yet they capture the essence of their big-screen counterparts. And although there's no dialogue in the game, characters express themselves amusingly through indecipherable but emotive mumbling. A vast array of familiar sound effects from the films adds authenticity and furthers the nostalgic feel, as does the music of John Williams.

Simply put, LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is the best family-friendly game for Xbox 360. And it's likely you'll keep battling, and building, long after your younglings have drifted off to slumberland.

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