Michael Kontoudis
19 Apr, 2011

Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars Review

PS3 Review | No... there is another.
Traveller’s Tales and LucasArts have apparently never experienced an intellectual property they did not see fit to translate into a child-friendly video game with Lego-block aesthetics. From Indiana Jones to Batman, Harry Potter to Star Wars, it is only a matter of time before gamers are graced with Lego Twilight, replete with a sullen little plastic Edward Cullen as one of four-hundred playable characters. For the time being, however, Traveller’s Tales has returned to the galaxy far, far away which set the franchise in motion. Having already plundered all six episodes in the Star Wars saga, the developer has turned its eye to television’s computer-animated series, The Clone Wars with the aptly-named Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, a galaxy-spanning adventure full of co-operative action, simple puzzle-solving and the good-natured parody one would expect of the series. With the appeal of the Lego games deriving in part from players’ familiarity with the source material in question, does The Clone Wars have what it takes to become the best iteration of the series, or does it represent a scraping from the bottom of the proverbial barrel?

Begun these Clone Wars have.

Begun these Clone Wars have.

Things start off fairly promising, with the game offering up a deft recreation of the climactic battle in the Geonosian arena from Episode II: Attack of the Clones. As always, the animated cutscenes are a pleasure to watch, melding the classic Star Wars iconography and style with the chunky, agreeable Lego characters. Whereas the visuals of past games in the series were colourful, albeit simple, The Clone Wars represents what just might be the apex of the concept; both intellectual properties are represented absolutely flawlessly, with each stubby plastic Lego-person and glowing lightsaber recreated with equal accuracy and aplomb. While past games in the series always did justice to the core idea, The Clone Wars boasts a range of improved effects and a bigger sense of spectacle; the game engine faithfully renders epic battles featuring dozens of characters with little-to-no dip in the frame rate, and many of the levels are respectably open, deftly conveying the scale of the most memorable Star Wars skirmishes. The marrying of such impeccable visuals with note-perfect samples of John Williams’ inimitable themes and the series’ unmistakable effects makes The Clone Wars a treat for the senses.

What a shame, then, that Traveller’s Tales and LucasArts have failed to alleviate the repetitiveness and shallowness of the series’ core design. The aforementioned battle of Geonosis, for example, requires players to switch between three playable characters in order to conquer the monsters of the arena. Taking down the savage beasts requires them to be stunned using Padme Amidala’s chain, which in turn allows the Jedi characters to leap onto the creatures’ backs to effect a savage lightsaber attack. The problem with the game’s design is that it pummels its ideas into the ground through repetition; by the third time a player switches characters, goes through the same motions, and sees the simple animation play out, they will likely have had quite enough. Unfortunately, the early encounter on Geonosis is just a tease of what is to come. Opening a simple force-field door onboard a Separatist Cruiser requires players to activate what seems like an endless series of switches, inducing head-numbing boredom in the process and almost stifling any sense of fun derived from the act of collecting the innumerable trinkets or partaking the simple, enjoyable combat or platforming.

Many of the series' most vivid locales have been faithfully recreated.

Many of the series' most vivid locales have been faithfully recreated.

Only partially offsetting the game’s rote design is the developer’s decision to open up its mechanics to include some ambitious attempts at real-time strategising. Certain levels see players in command of the battlefield, using resources to build bases and destroy those of the enemy; while such distractions are fun in the short term and do much to inject some much-needed depth to the series, they too wear out their welcome by virtue of some frustrating mechanics and muddy, overused objectives which see you destroying a series of identical targets. Speaking of frustration, The Clone Wars represents a step-up in terms of difficulty when compared with its predecessors; for perhaps the first time in a Lego title, the puzzles are oftentimes obtuse and maddening on account of poor signposting and an unhelpful camera system. While hardly a challenging game overall, The Clone Wars may be the first Lego title which necessitates some parental assistance. Luckily, the co-operative functionality, which is accommodates both local and online play, is as slick as ever, enabling more experienced players to guide the experience for their partners-in-play. To its credit, The Clone Wars is a generous game, boasting an enviable amount of content by way of its innumerable hidden treasures and post-game unlockables. If the gameplay on offer is to your liking, there is no reason why The Clone Wars will not remain in constant rotation.

While it is tempting to excuse rote mechanics and repetitive objectives by pigeon-holing The Clone Wars as a game for children, the truth is that even younger and more inexperienced gamers deserve a little more from their entertainment; it is a significant shame that such a charming, gorgeous game should be so mundane to play, so utterly mediocre and unambitious in what it asks of its players. The worlds of Lego and Star Wars, so rich and vibrant, deserve games which test the imaginations of players over and above their ability to gather collectibles and hit switches. Where past games in the series could contentedly coast along on their novelty and personality, The Clone Wars bears the burden of increased scrutiny and comes up slightly short. It is nowhere near a terrible game, but one which is not terribly exciting outside of its surface trappings. If Traveller's Tales is to recapture gamers' attentions with the forthcoming Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, then we think it would do well to contemplate a fundamental overhaul of the series' core design.
The Score
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is charming to behold but ultimately bland to play. Its workmanlike design emphasises repetition over imagination, quantity over quality, and form over substance. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
so it looks like it's playing through the clone wars series from those screens.
How far into the show does it go?
3 years ago
I find your lack of faith disturbing
3 years ago
@ Benza: The game includes episodes from the first two seasons.
3 years ago
SUNR1DER wrote
@ Benza: The game includes episodes from the first two seasons.
Oh sweet, so do we get a giant godzilla homage lever?
3 years ago
Benza wrote
Oh sweet, so do we get a giant godzilla homage lever?
Yeah there's a giant Zilla level.

I didn't enjoy the real time strategy parts of the game. They were all the same and dragged on. They should have stuck to the platforming side of things.

Hopefully LEGO Pirates of the Carribean will be a better game.
3 years ago
shokwave2 wrote
Benza wrote
Oh sweet, so do we get a giant godzilla homage lever?
Yeah there's a giant Zilla level.
Hell yeah, might have to hire this out atleast.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  30/03/2011 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $79.95 AU
Year Made:

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