We go on a lot about charm in video games, but what does it actually mean? Is it when a game makes you smile when you weren't expecting it? Or is it when a game looks so cuddly you could almost grab it by its metaphorical cheeks and start cooing? Perhaps it's none of these things. Perhaps it's all of these things. Whatever charm means to you, it can't be denied that it's a good thing, and Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, which includes Episodes I, II and III for the first time on the 360, is soaked to the bone in it.
For example, the first time you see a Lego Princess Leia strapped to a ridiculous-looking Jabba the Hut in a gold bikini - that's charming. Or when Darth Vader steps ominously from his shuttle and chokes on the steam - that's charming. In fact, the whole game will make you smile, purely because you're watching those classic Star Wars scenes in Lego-vision. You'd have to be one hell of a grouch not to have some part of your heart melted by the game.
Everything here is designed to suck you in. From the opening Mos Eisley Cantina hub, from which you can choose to play any of the six Star Wars films, the game wraps you in a sci-fi infused blanket, gives you a cup of warm milk and calmly strokes your hair. While gameplay itself is easy to pick up, it's also designed for gamers of all skill ranges - when you die you'll respawn straight away, and you can turn the adaptive difficulty on or off. You jump with A (Jedis like Obi Wan and Luke Skywalker can double jump), defend or evade with X (Jedis can deflect blaster fire with their Lightsabers), switch to other players with Y and activate your special ability with B (Jedis use the force).
Of course everyone will want to be a Jedi most of the time, because of their cool force abilities, like Jedi Lunge, Jedi Slam and the Force Push, but you'll have to spend some time as other classic characters from the Star Wars universe to solve the game's simple but fun puzzles. For example, some doors can only be opened by R2D2 or C3PO, some cameras will only grant passage if you're a bounty hunter, and some passages can only be entered by smaller characters, like Padme. What you end with on most of the ground-based levels is a train of characters that follow you around. When you encounter a puzzle, it's a simple case of tagging out to the appropriate character and putting your thinking cap on.
'Two-player co-op is where the most fun is to be had. Two heads are better than one, as they say, and that's particularly applicable to Complete Saga, especially during some of the more cryptic puzzles.'
The gameplay isn't massively varied, so it's a good thing most of the chapters are short and sweet - if they were any longer you'd probably get bored. Whether you're tying an AT-AT in knots in a Snowspeeder or darting between asteroids in an X-Wing, the vehicle levels provide a welcome variance in play. But again, it's a good thing that they're short and sweet because they can get pretty tedious.
Two-player co-op is where the most fun is to be had. Two heads are better than one, as they say, and that's particularly applicable to Complete Saga, especially during some of the more cryptic puzzles. It's also quite useful for combat, where one of you might be concentrating on taking down Storm Troopers or Droids, with the other focusing on pulling switches which prevents more enemies from spawning. In the Snowspeeder Hoth level for example, one player might concentrate on destroying AT-STs while the other is dragging a bomb around to destroy impassable rocks. Whether you're playing with a mate at home or online, what things often boil down to is a rush to collect as many Lego studs as possible, which are scattered throughout each level. But the studs are just one of the many collectables in the game. Apart from unlocking all 160 levels in the game, there are tonnes of secret characters, vehicles and mini kits to get, as well as extras, high scores and True Jedi bonuses to go for. You're most compelled to replay a level when you come across something that can only be interacted with by certain characters, like red bits of Lego for Sith Lords. We particularly like the Bounty Hunter levels, given to you by the gorgeous Jabba the Hut in Mos Eisley.
The game's customisation options are vast and varied. From the hub you can create and name a character and splice together pretty much anything your imagination dares to come up with. Fancy an alien Sith Lord with an afro? Done. How about splicing Chewbacca with a Storm Trooper? Double done.
While playing two-player is the best thing about Lego Star Wars, it also reveals its biggest failing - the camera, which can be absolutely infuriating at times. It's designed to keep both players on screen at all times, but has a bit of a fit sometimes when you get too far apart or will get stuck behind a wall when you explore secret areas. It's also stuck on inverted, meaning pressing up will make the camera go down and vice a versa. Not great for those of you who prefer a default camera setting. But apart from the camera, and the occasional tearing, there's not much to complain about here.
With an RRP of £39.99 those of you who already have the original Lego Star Wars or Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy might not be particularly interested, since Complete Saga is just a bringing together of those two games with HD bells and whistles (mêlée attacks and dodging blaster fire have been added) and a smattering of new levels. But for the rest of you, you could do far worse. Complete Saga will charm the socks off Star Wars fanatics and platforming fanboys alike.