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Review

Review: LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Strong, the force is?

It was back in 2005 when the first LEGO Star Wars game trundled off the production line and into our hearts. Despite neither having the most ingenious of puzzles nor the most in-depth combat system, the fantastic humour, overall quality, and sheer fan service won it an army of fans. Many moons (that’s no moon) have passed since then and the LEGO games have branched out into many different universes, albeit to a very mixed reception. Can LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars restore balance to the force?

Info:
  • Available on all console platforms
  • 32 story-based missions
  • A multitude of bonus content
The first thing to comment on is the game’s high production standards. As one might expect, you are in for a visual and aural treat as familiar Star Wars themes and sound effects blast out at every opportunity, coupled with graphics that are much more vibrant than what we have seen previously. Exploding ships, barren wastelands, lush jungles – the game has them all. The character animation also seems to have been improved, with the blocky little blighters pinging all over the place with ease.

The cutscenes – usually the most highly regarded part of a LEGO game – are also on top form, favouring humour over the source material’s rather darker tone. Whilst they are rarely ‘laugh out loud’ funny, they never fail to raise a smile.

Having exhausted the original Star Wars films, TT have looked to the Clone Wars animated series in search of inspiration. The game follows season one and two of the Clone Wars, and it’s quite interesting to see what went on between the films. Rather than following a set path, you can choose to progress one of several story arcs featuring the likes of General Grievous and Count Dooku. Each story has several chapters to complete before it ends, and then you can move on to any of the others that takes your fancy.

Whereas before LEGO games were all about ploughing through level after level solving rudimentary puzzles, this time TT have tried to invigorate the series with a couple of new modes. The first sees you soar into space as you take control of one of several ships, and although this sounds like a mouth-watering prospect, with dreams of barrels rolls and trench runs, the end result is somewhat lacklustre. What it boils down to is you drifting listlessly from launchpad to launchpad, where you will land, press a few buttons, pull a few levels and rinse and repeat. This is such a missed opportunity and the disappointment is immense.

The second new mode is in the RTS vein, where you are given a limited number of resources and tasked with capturing or destroying enemy bases. At the start it’s actually quite an interesting idea, and leading your troops into battle backed up by all manner of cannons, air support, and walkers is a novel experience. Unfortunately, these levels tend to play out for far too long. The best example is when you’re was given the objective to take out a number of enemy bases. Completing the task feels great, but then you’re plonked right back at the start and told to do the whole thing again, but this time there were more enemy units.


One of the new RTS sections
Ok, that’s fair enough, it was a bit of a slog but you’ll probably go through it again, next level now please? No, you’re once again put back at the start and told to do the whole thing again, but this time the enemy had special units that could only be destroyed by a certain type of cannon/ground unit. As harsh as this sounds I actually turned it off at this point and went and did something else.

So that leaves us with the all too familiar puzzle and combat levels, and it will either fill you with joy or annoyance to hear these haven’t changed too much. The levels see you control up to a handful of characters, making use of their special abilities. The Jedi, for example, excel at melee combat and also have the force to manipulate objects. The Clone troopers have various weapons, plus a grapple hook. Jar Jar Binks (shudder) can jump really high, and thankfully doesn’t talk – mesa like it when hesa no talk.

Combining these special abilities will help you overcome obstacles and progress through the level, but it’s here where one of the big sticking points raises its ugly head. There are absolutely no hints at what you have to do to go any further. Now normally I’m not one for being led by the hand through levels, but in the words of Dr. Evil “throw me a frickin’ bone here!” Frustration is inevitable as you scour inch after inch of the level trying to find the trigger that kick-starts the next section, and believe me sometimes it can be as random as having to destroy a certain rock/bush which just so happens to looks like every other rock/bush in the level. To make life even more fun enemies will continuously spawn until you figure out where to go next.

The fixed camera also proves itself as a troublesome beast during the RTS and space sections. It’s a case of “I just want to see over there to the left a bit” but no, that’s not allowed in the LEGO Star Wars universe. If being a Jedi is this restrictive no wonder Anakin switched sides. Your AI partners can also be on the dim side, and, more often than not, provide no help at all as they stand and watch you try and hack down a 15ft tall metal structure on your own. In your own time, lads.

Credit where credit is due though, as TT has created an absolutely fantastic game hub. It starts off on the bridge of a starship, but by acquiring gold bricks you can progress deeper and deeper into the bowls of the ship until it is revealed that it’s not just one ship, it’s two, and you are in the middle of a firefight. The ship also houses dozens of little secrets, like the medical bay where you can create your own character, or the dock where you can actually buy one of many ships you have unlocked and take it for a spin into space. Look hard enough and you might even find a secret mission (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Pros

  • High production values
  • Humorous
  • Lots of do
  • When it’s good, it’s really good
  • A game hub that goes on and on (and on!)

Cons

  • New modes could be better
  • Zero signposting
  • A sense of having done this all before

Overall TT should be commended for at least trying to spice things up with new modes, despite them not being as good as they could be. The game’s core mechanics are sound, but they are the same mechanics we were playing several years ago. There are a vast amount of collectibles to unlock, but again there’s a fair chance you’ve unlocked many of them before in previous games. Yes, the game is fun, and yes there is a lot of content on offer, but one can’t help but wonder how much further the LEGO franchise can go.

Score: 7/10

Xbox 360 version reviewed

 

 

 

13 Comments
  1. Kevling
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    How much further? At *least* to the Caribbean ;)

    Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 09:16.
  2. teflon
    Community Team
    Since: May 2009

    They should LEGO Battlestar Galactica next.

    “All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.”

    Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 09:26.
    • Sympozium
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      lEGO God of War would be epic… hehe

      Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 09:35.
      • Foxhound_Solid
        Is a smart cookie.
        Since: Dec 2009

        Lego Metal Gear Solid
        Lego Devil May Cry
        Lego Uncharted
        Lego Dead Space
        Lego Killzone
        Lego Resistance

        It could happen..

        Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 10:33.
      • cc_star
        Team TSA: Writer
        Since: Forever

        What’s the point, are they all just essentially different ‘skins’ on the same game?

        Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 14:43.
  3. Grey_Ghost13
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    I’m loving this game! Play it co-op with my little boy, best one of the series so far. Last favourite was Lego Indy 2, but this one is better. And a hell of alot better than Original Saga Lego game!

    Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 09:45.
    • gaffers101
      Member
      Since: Oct 2008

      My son and I played the demo too. Think I’ll hire it over Easter for us both to play.

      Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 13:35.
  4. Charmed_Fanatic
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Loved 1 & 2, 3 might be abit stale, will prob pick this up once its cheaper

    Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 10:42.
  5. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Just give me Lego Harry Potter 2 and I’ll be happy- it was the best Lego game so far.
    Oh, and how about a Lego: Lord of the Rings? THAT would be epic.
    As for this game, I never watched the Clone Wars and was never likely to be interested in playing this over Lego Star Wars: Complete Saga. Still, it seems like it might be worth picking up second hand cheap.

    Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 11:00.
  6. Jen A
    Member
    Since: Jan 2011

    A fair assessment.

    I was rather disappointed by it but I think that’s because I loved Lego Harry Potter so much that I had too high expectations this time round.

    Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 11:14.
    • shields_t
      Member
      Since: Oct 2008

      LEGO Harry Potter was top, especially after the lame Indy games abd the very average LEGO Batman.

      I picked up the 3DS version of LEGO Star Wars 3 and have been a bit disappointed to find that it is clearly a port of the DS version rather than the console version.

      Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 12:23.
  7. Smallville2106
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    Thanks for the review. Think I’ll pass on this one. Will be picking up Lego Harry Potter when I get the chance though.

    Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 13:18.
  8. shields_t
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    Pros: Lots of do

    Hahaha, you sure that isn’t a con?

    Comment posted on 04/04/2011 at 13:45.

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