It's nearly an impossibility that a major movie in the fantasy, super hero or sci-fi genres doesn't come with some kind of game to take advantage of marketing synergies. At the very least a mobile game. It's just the way it is. This should definitely be true for Star Wars - a license that has spawned numerous classics and several games that are considered top of their class including Tie Fighter, Knights of the Old Republic and Super Star Wars.
When it comes to Star Wars: The Force Awakens this is not the case for some reason. Instead Disney have chosen to let Star Wars Battlefront, based on the original trilogy, be the game to cash in on the movie, but this in turn allows us to play through the events of the movie with Disney Infinity 3.0. But before we start, if you haven't seen The Force Awakens yet, we recommend that you stop reading this review and hold off playing this content until you've done so.
This Play Set comes with the two main characters of the movie - Finn and Rey - and you'll guide them through the adventure that starts out on Jakku. You can also buy Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron for a bit of gameplay variation, and the former comes across as far more evil than the somewhat ambiguous bad guy in the movie. One particular scene (you can probably guess which one) has been removed to make the adventure a bit more age appropriate - probably a good choice. It is also nice that the cast have supplied the dialogue.
As usual the toys themselves are incredibly well made, and we would particularly like to point out Poe Dameron who sports lots of great detail and perfect colour choices. Kylo Ren is also great, but we can only hope that he'll be released in a Light FX edition as previous heroes and villains. Darth Vader with a glowing red lightsaber is simply too cool, not too mention our personal favourite Yoda (with his glowing green lightsaber).
Much like previous play sets (Inside Out being the obvious exception) - it's mainly a linear adventure where certain levels are more open in their design and allow for exploration. It is noticeable that Ninja Theory have been involved in the development as evident by the entertaining combat, better here than ever before and it perfectly matches the sense of the combat seen in the movie. We found ourselves having lots of fun, and this is in great contrast to a game like Lego Dimensions. That game often offers surprisingly well designed and clever puzzles, while the combat itself is a bit so and so and lacks consequence. Here there are virtually no puzzles and the focus is instead completely placed on the action. The Skylanders concept falls somewhere in between these two extremes.
The missions typically involve collecting the things you need, figuring out some kind of threat, or going to get a certain important item. It's clear cut, simple and follows the movie for the most part. It is very apparent that this is based on a single movie. Previous Star Wars themed play sets have been based on a trilogy or era each (read up on Twilight of the Republic and Rise Against the Empire in our complete guide, something that naturally allows the developers more freedom to pick and choose scenes that makes sense in the game. Here pretty much every scene is turned into some kind of gameplay scenario, something that makes it reminiscent of the movie license games of old. The previous sentence could have been the start of a complete trashing of the play set, as movie license games released in the late '90s and early 2000s typically were of very low quality.
Thankfully this is not true in this case, as it is merely the concept that reminds us of old licensed games. In fact the game plays very well, and we're impressed by how fresh each of the play sets released for Disney Infinity 3.0 come across. It's often a case of cheap and recycled material meant to squeeze consumers, but instead of that these are well crafted adventures with brand new elements and visuals. However, we can't escape the fact that The Force Awakens play set never really reaches the level of the previously mentioned Inside Out play set.
It's obvious that the goal has been to offer as much Star Wars as possible and try and include everything important from the movie. It's great fun to soar the skies with the Millennium Falcon, the X-Wings are wonderful and several missions are clever as they inject some sublime humour; it's packed full of fan service, some of which will likely go unnoticed by the new generation of Star Wars fans this product is primarily aimed at. That said there is never any sense of wanting to replay the adventure. One play-through is enough. At the end of the day we'd recommend this to all Star Wars fans, but it's not quite as original and well thought out as Rise Against the Empire, and if you haven't played that one we'd suggest you start there.