While the traditional games press may sneer at them, we've always had a soft spot for film tie-in games. Whether as a kid or an adult, there's always been something special about seeing a great film in the cinema, strolling over to the nearby game store, and picking up the official game, so you can head home and play through all the greatest scenes again later, in the comfort of your own home. And that's at least one of the reasons we were excited to get our hands on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set for Disney Infinity.
Admittedly, things are a little bit more complex now than they were before. After all, you can't just buy the game and take it home, as The Force Awakens Play Set is an add-on for Disney Infinity 3.0, so it requires the full game to run. As a Disney Infinity Play Set, it's also a toys-to-life game, with the starter pack bundling Finn, Rey, and the all important Play Set Piece that unlocks the Play Set in the game. Launching alongside figures of bad boy emo Kylo Ren, and
Rebel Resistance "Ace" Poe Dameron, each of which is sold separately, there are plenty of ways to spend your imperial credits on some Force Awakens merchandise - but this Play Set is definitely worth it.
Before we carry on, it's worth mentioning that this review, by its very nature, is going to be full of spoilers for the film. And we mean huge spoilers.
If you haven't already seen the film, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER, lest ye spoil the entire thing for yeself.
We mean it! Ye have been warned!
Still with us? Great! Assuming you've seen The Force Awakens, you'll have a good idea what to expect from the game, as this co-op adventure follows the same plot as the film, taking in all the good bits, with only a few tweaks to the plot to try and fit the story into the game's pretty brief cutscenes. Taking in every major location of the film, from Rey's barren homeland of Jakku, to the distinctly greener planet of Takodana, where in the film the crew meet Maz Kanata, the little lady alien with the rather strange glasses (although weirdly, she's not actually in the game), to the final showdown on Starkiller base, if it happened in the film, chances are there's a level about it here - you even get to wander around the inside of Han Solo's massive freighter.
While it may use plenty of artistic license, The Force Awakens Play Set stays as authentic to the film as possible. Getting off to the best of starts, with that music, that intro, and those words scrolling across the screen, you're thrown straight into an on-the-rails escape sequence, as Finn teams up with rebel captive Poe Dameron to escape Kylo Ren's Star Destroyer in a tie fighter they've just nicked. As a slight aside, for a resistance "ace", Poe Dameron doesn't half seem to crash a lot. If he's the best the resistance have, good luck to them.
That said, the intro is a little bit weird for another reason, as this is the only section in the game where you can't actually play in co-op. While the rest of the game is a fully co-operative experience, as you and a friend take on the events of the films together, the intro, for some reason, is purely single-player - which can be a bit naff if you have a friend sitting with you, eagerly waiting to jump in. Fortunately, as soon as the Tie Fighter section's finished, you find yourself in much more familiar Disney Infinity territory, with a part platformer, part action, and heavily quest based adventure to play through.
The gameplay here is divided up into quests, which you'll receive by talking to the folks that litter the game's hub worlds. With a few key, all important story quests to play through, each of which leads to a level, and dozens of smaller, optional side quests to do for the residents of the various planets, there's a lot to keep you busy here - and lots of fun to be had.
The main story based levels provide the meat of the gameplay, and follow major plot points from the film as closely as possible. The first proper level has you scavenging inside a giant Star Destroyer for parts; the second, fighting bounty hunters and giant monsters about Han Solo's freighter. Along the way, there'll be basic switch pulling puzzles to solve, enemies to beat up, and plenty of fetch quests to complete, as you prepare for the final showdown against Kylo Ren.
While the main missions provide the story based action, it's the side-quests that provide a lot of the fun, often delving into the sillier parts of the galaxy far, far away. Whether you're helping a smuggler disguise his cargo by lobbing it into a droid repair machine, only to get a pretty suspicious looking "droid" pop out, or helping fix the holes in the pipeline for a gent trying to set up an oil bath spa for droids on Jakku, there's loads of little bits and pieces to do, with often funny requests tying things together.
Not all of the game is on foot, though, as from time to time you'll be able to take to the skies (or should that be stars?) in one of the vehicle levels. From the bits that follow the film closely (like flying the Millennium Falcon, dodging Tie Fighters on Jakku) to sections that have been put together just for the game, it's the space ships that'll get you between the game's hub world planets, as all you have to do is find the dock, and press a button to blast off into space, and fly between worlds, destroying any baddies you might see.
And even beyond the quests, there's still loads to be done. Each hub world is littered with loads of collectibles to be found, from the ever present mynocks (with over a hundred to find, these "sucker dragons" are everywhere!), to more well hidden Holocrons that unlock Star Wars artwork when you pick them up, to the all important Champion Coins, which unlock other Star Wars characters for play in this Play Set.
While previously, Disney Infinity has been more than a little bit weird about locking characters to specific Play Sets, to the point of only letting characters from that franchise play through the relevant Play Set (so Iron Man can't slay Darth Vader, Stitch can't become an Avenger, and Star Lord can't swing with Spidey), the Star Wars Play Sets are different, in that any Star Wars character, from any film or TV series can be used in any of the Play Sets - even if it makes no chronological sense. All you have to do is find the relevant Champion Coin, hidden in the hub worlds, and you can play as any of the Star Wars characters you own - so you can make Darth Vader beat up Kylo Ren (oh dear!), or have Han Solo avenge Old Man Han. It's great to see Disney Infinity finally lifting their restrictions just that little bit - and even if it doesn't make sense chronologically, it still makes the game a lot more fun - and the figures much better value for money.
In the end, while it may only draw on the events of a single film, there's still plenty to like about the Force Awakens Play Set. While we'd probably have preferred it if it had come with real clips from the film in the cutscenes (even if it would be a bit grating, considering the rest of the game's toy-like art style), what we've got is still a great co-op adventure that Star Wars fans will love. If you've seen the film, and you can't wait until the Blu-Ray release to relive the adventure, the force is strong with this one.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U