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Joseph Rositano
19 Jan, 2009

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance Review

DS Review | An alliance that wasn't meant to be.
While The Clone Wars animated movie didn’t fair too well at the box office, the TV series has been rather popular. With this in mind, it comes as little surprise that LucasArts developed a game tie-in, but oddly enough it has quite a lot to offer for Star Wars fans. There’s a unique story that plays out just like an episode of the TV series, the game has a tonne of voiceovers and as a whole, the production values are high. Unfortunately, when it comes down to the gameplay, the experience gets a little shallow.

The game begins with Jedi Master Luminara delivering lightsaber crystals to Coruscant, when her ship is suddenly attacked by a mysterious group of Dark Force users called the Nightsisters. After the attack, the Jedi Council investigate why the Nightsisters took the crystals, with the mystery taking them to various Star Wars locations including Rodia and Ziro the Hutt’s palace. It’s refreshing to see a developer create a completely unique plot from the source material, and it’s only made stronger by the inclusion of voiced dialogue. It’s quite amazing how much they could fit on the tiny DS cartridge; voiceovers are generally left to grunts and moans in most games for the handheld.

Like the TV series, at the start of each level players are treated to a brief introduction from the Clone Wars narrator which sets the mood for the action. From here, you select two Jedi characters to undertake the mission. Some of the playable characters include Obi-Wan, Anakin, Asoka, Mace Windu, Kit Fisto and Plo Koon - there’s a nice variety to suit your personal tastes. Sadly there aren’t many differences between characters, so it does feel like a missed opportunity at times. The game itself is completely controlled via the touch screen. To move around you simply have to slide the stylus, while tapping on objects of interest will cause your character to interact with them. It’s simple and very straight forward, so even the youngest gamer should be able to work out what to do.

  
It's nice that all of the dialogue features voiceovers.

It's nice that all of the dialogue features voiceovers.
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Despite showing this initial promise, Jedi Alliance falls short in the gameplay department. Levels typically consist of multiple rooms to explore, and generally all you have to do is find a switch to activate a door or reach a platform. There’s simply no challenge involved, which makes things feel linear and dull during extended play sessions. To keep things interesting you’ll often encounter enemy droids and Nightsisters, however the combat system is far from revolutionary. The general idea is to out-manoeuvre and stun your opponent by aiming your attacks at high and low points on their body, however, it usually just translates to mindless tapping on the touch screen. The problem is enemies appear tiny on the screen, making precise tapping near impossible. It’s just not as tight as it could have been, which is very disappointing.

Like most DS games, occasionally you’ll be required to play a couple of mini-games to bypass certain obstacles. The mini-games aren’t too demanding; they either require you to match up symbols to gain an access code or unlock a door by pushing a pin through gaps. They don’t really add much to the overall experience, but they’re there and offer a nice, albeit short, distraction. A more dominant feature however are quick-time events. Basically, during key moments a cinematic will play and you’ll have to follow on screen prompts. The icons can occasionally be a little small though, so again there’s a few problems associated with the game registering your movements. Unfortunately, this often results in you having to start from the beginning of the sequence again, including the annoying explanation bits where the characters talk about what they’re going to do.

There a two other minor annoyances that hold back the gameplay. Firstly, for some reason during exploration characters walk around slowly. When there’s an enemy in the room though, they activate their lightsabers and everything suddenly speeds up and becomes more satisfying. It’s an odd design choice by the developer, it’s almost like they’re trying to increase the game’s lifespan by slowing the action down. The second annoyance is the camera system. The camera is always in a fixed position, and while for the most part it’s fine this way, there were a few moments where it prevents you from seeing hazards. One example is the first level. There’s a room that has a security droid patrolling the area, and you have to activate a switch to crush it and gain access to the next room. At one point the camera actually hid the droid, so we had to second guess where it was while moving about. While these two issues are only minor, they’re still noticeable and just add to the frustrations that are already present.

  
Anakin always pawns Separatist scum.

Anakin always pawns Separatist scum.
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On the visual front, Jedi Alliance is quite impressive. Animations are smooth and fluid, and the developers even went as far as to include realistic shadows instead of the normal circular blobs. While this sort of detail has been done in games for years now, it’s something that’s not often seen on the DS system. As mentioned the game is full of dialogue, and what makes this even more appealing is that the voice talents of the TV series lend their vocals to the game as well. However it seems to have come at a cost; all this dialogue seems to have taken up the space which would otherwise be reserved for background music. Needless to say, you can expect to hear the same tracks play constantly throughout your adventure.

Despite its solid visuals and great implementation of voiced dialogue, Star Wars: The Clones Wars: Jedi Alliance ultimately falls short in gameplay. There’s no real challenge involved so things start getting a little linear and dull during extended play sessions. The combat system also doesn’t work efficiently, and at times it feels like you’re mindlessly tapping away at the touch screen. If you can look past these flaws though, there’s a decent story to unravel which makes Jedi Alliance appealing for Star Wars fans.
The Score
Despite having a strong story, solid visuals and great implementation of voiced dialogue, Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance ultimately falls short in gameplay. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 Comments
5 years ago
Did anyone actually want this Clone Wars stuff made? I dunno, when that Clone Wars movie appeared, all I heard was an overwhelming "eh" from my friends, all fans of Star Wars. While I don't hang around on hardcore forums devoted to the subject, I don't think I've ever heard anyone give two hoots about this stuff. Ah well.

tldr; more like give us TIE Fighter 2!
5 years ago
You and your friends are probably ten years older than the target audience - you know, kids the age most star wars fans were when the saga started icon_razz.gif
5 years ago
the clone wars are aimed at pre teens to early teens i think.
5 years ago
The Clone Wars show is actually a lot better then I expected. Doesn't touch the awesome of the Tartavosky series but it's better then the prequel movies.

Anything that shows the clones as more then just cannon fodder is cool in my book.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  19/11/2008 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  Action
Year Made:
  2008

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