If LEGO Star Wars II simply allowed you to play through the 18 story missions, it would be a good game -- but not a deep one. Those episodes will take players anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to complete, which is longer than the combined movies but may not be worth the extra cash required to pay for a video game. This sequel has therefore been set up to encourage multiple trips through each level. There are secret areas to explore and an overarching goal: find LEGO pieces to make your own vehicles and characters. Here are some tips that will help parents keep up with their offspring:
In the first 18 levels, your mission is to make your way through the areas, solving puzzles and fighting off the emperor's minions. But along the way, make sure to break everything. This is LEGO after all, and a lot of the backgrounds can be disassembled with a well-placed blaster bolt or light-sabre slash. The coloured bolts that bounce around after a structure is blown up can be used to open up new characters and areas.
Once all the episodes have been completed, go back into each one and use all the different characters to uncover the secrets you couldn't reach the first time. Darth Vader will be able to manipulate anything with a reddish glow, bounty hunters like Boba Fett can throw sticky grenades at shiny steel surfaces, and little Wicket the ewok can scamper through tiny doors. Each level has 10 hidden LEGO pieces and one special, hard-to-find brick.
After you have bought or built new characters and ships, use them in bonus areas to race against other players and accumulate bolts. These bonus missions are timed as well.
The complete game. In all, there are 99 objectives to complete. If you get stuck finding something, I heartily endorse a website called mycheats.com. It has been about 10 days since this game hit store shelves and every single secret in it has already been posted. Despite the site's name, it is not cheating -- it is free customer support.