TT Games directors Tom Stone and Jonathan Smith, and their team at Traveller’s Tales, were determined from the start to make LEGO Star Wars II more than just the already highly lauded original game with new settings and characters – it had to be a true sequel. In addition to greater focus on character (including individualized melee attacks and a hilarious Character Customizer), enhancing the use of vehicles was a big part of this. “We had three vehicle-based levels in the original game, and while they added some neat variety, they didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the gameplay,” says Smith. “We knew up front for LEGO Star Wars II that the universe of the Original Trilogy had a lot of fantastic ships and cool vehicles: the Millennium Falcon, X-wings, AT-STs, speeder bikes and so on. So we worked hard at the start to integrate them more effectively into the game.”
The first step was to add vehicles to levels that would have only been played out on foot in the first LEGO Star Wars. “Characters will be able to get in and out of vehicles, and ride creatures – which is fantastic,” enthuses Stone. “Jumping into an AT-ST or racing around on a speeder bike is just so cool.”
“I’m personally a big fan of running over everyone in Mos Eisley from behind the wheel of Luke’s landspeeder,” comments David Perkinson, producer at LucasArts. “Then I run it through the carwash and sell it to a Jawa…who of course gives me more studs because I’m selling it to him freshly washed.”
Obviously, key battles such as the Death Star trench run and the Battle of Hoth include vehicle-only gameplay, but even that has been expanded upon beyond what you played in the original LEGO Star Wars. “For the space scenes,” says Smith, “we’ve drawn directly upon elements of the gameplay which were successful in the character levels – exploration, interactivity and free play – and we’re delighted with the results.”
“We’ve taken the vehicle levels off rails,” elaborates Perkinson. “Now you have a free range of movement in all directions, which enables you to fully explore a level and even come back to it later in Free Play mode with any of the vehicles you may have unlocked.”
And that assortment of vehicles only grows with the construction of minikit vehicles. “You might remember assembling minikits in the first game by finding 10 minikit pieces spread throughout a given level,” says Perkinson. “That was fun, but you couldn’t do anything with them – they just sat parked outside as you built them. But in LEGO Star Wars II, once you’ve completely constructed a minikit, you can take it into a vehicle bonus level – each Episode has two, so there are six all together – and actually play with it.”
LEGO Star Wars II also allows you to actually play with creatures from all over the galaxy, such as tauntauns on Hoth and banthas on Tatooine. “You can jump from them to reach higher-up areas,” says Smith. “The dewbacks on Tatooine are particularly great, too, with a cool ‘chomp’ attack. And they have a few other secret features, too…”
“Yes,” laughs Stone. “Dewbacks are known to leave you a little LEGO ‘present.'”
This post originally appeared on Rebelscum.com on the 20th of June, 2006.
Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.