Reviews

Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars – Review

Release Date: Out now!
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Activision
Singleplayer: Yes
Local Co-op/Co-op: Yes. 2 Players
Online Multiplayer/ Co-op: No.
PEGI: 7+

LEGO games get around a fair bit, don’t they? But it’s been a while since I’ve played one (LEGO Harry Potter being the last) and that break has done me good as Clone Wars has come back boasting plenty of familiar gameplay, but plenty of new tricks as well.

Like the previous LEGO games the plan is a simple one; take a well know franchise and turn the entire thing into a LEGO version where the characters are mute and must convey everything through sign language and odd sounds, plenty of humour and lots of gameplay which is pretty much a genre unto itself. Got that? Right.

Like the previous games Clone Wars has a hub world that you can explore and find plenty of hidden things, and for a game aimed at kids there’s actually a good bit of stuff you can miss in this world. From here you can embark on missions loosely based on the animated Clone Wars TV series, get access to new characters and generally muck around by hacking up the place to collect Studs – essentially the games currency.

Go on a mission and it’s business as usual. Clone Wars follows the usual formula pretty closely for the most part; much of your time is spent fighting droids using a variety of characters such as Clone Troopers, Jedi and more. Simply hit X to attack and watch as carnage unfolds. It’s no Devil May Cry, but it’s simple and fun.
The other part of your time is usually taken up by solving puzzles which have taken a bit of a difficulty leap for the series. While they’re still not brain-twisting pain-inducing challenges, there are a few moments where you’ll stand there scratching your head. Usually they require you to use multiple characters abilities by switching between them, or even switching to a character in another portion of the level.  I can’t help but feel that young kids may actually get stuck pretty often in this game, and that’s rather odd for a game that is designed for them.

Other little changes come in the form of more weapons to play with such as gatling guns and rocket launchers, and even sniper rifles.

Vehicle sections make a return so you’ll be hurtling around in Speeders are Fighters in no time at all. They’re still a little fiddly to control at points, but for the most part they’re fun to drive and even more fun to blow things up with. A minor complain comes in a rather odd choice during space battles; you need to use a booster to go up or down. It’s space, right? And I’m in a starfighter, so why can’t I do that without need attachable boosters?.
A welcome change does  come in the ability to land during space battles so you can take the battle to the ground. It’s not a major change, but a good one.

Replay value is added as you can go back to any level in Free Play mode and take any character with you so you can gain access to areas that you couldn’t reach in the main Story Mode.

At the start and during these missions you’ll be treated to Clone Wars charming cutscenes performed entirely by small plastic beings incapable of speech but certainly capable of mad arm waving and gesturing. The humour still remains strong here, and it’s hard not to smile as Anakin looks smug at fixing a ship before hitting the wrong button and sending it hurtling into space.

Clone Wars also throws a new trick into the bag in the form of massive ground battles which play as part RTS and part standard LEGO game. These will pop up during the story and as a separate mode during play. These levels (also known as Ground Assault) see you running around a vast area destroying enemy bases so you can construct your own buildings by using Studs. Legions of Droids walk around, as do your own Clone Troopers if you build Barracks, and wage war with your own forces. You can call in vehicles, cannons, shields and more to help you take down the opposition.  Throw in enemy bases that have shields or buildings that can only be taken down in a specific way and you’ve got a damn fun game mode that makes a welcome change to the usual formula.
This new game mode is pleasing in its simplicity, and allows plenty of room for kids to muck around without having to worry about bases being recaptured by the enemy.
It’s biggest flaw comes in rather weak AI; your own forces will often wander past enemies without ever opening fire and vice versa. You’ll see notice that aside from occasional help it’s actually you doing pretty much all the work.

' Did you just call me a toad? DID YOU!?'

Being a LEGO game there’s  metric ton of unlockables and things to find thrown in. Each level has Minikits to be found, a stud total to be collected to achieve True Jedi rating and more. There’s so many characters you can find, unlock and purchase that it almost hurts the brain to ponder them all, and you can unlock vehicles and other things as well. For people who love to complete a game 100%, you could be here a while.
However, some things are buried so deeply that many kids may never see them.

A graphical upgrade has also helped this game make a small leap from its predeccesors with some rather fetching lighting effects taking centre stage. Levels are now more detailed, more varied and simply nicer to look at. There are even darker, grittier looking locations throw into the mix as well.

The games co-op is easily its biggest draw as puzzles are best completed with two people. Suddenly the already charming LEGO gameplay doubles in fun as you and your friend muck around, cause mayhem and argue about solving puzzles.
It’s rather odd that the co-op is only Local, meaning you must have a second controller plugged in. The lack of online co-op is rather baffling as this game would have been perfectly suited to it, and its inclusion would have made an already good game great. In fact, they also missed an opportunity by now having online Ground Assault battles where you and your friend could battle it out against each other.

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars may be the best LEGO game to date, it’s still the same at the core but manages to add in enough new stuff to keep it feeling fun to play, and the old charm still works wonders.

The Good:
+ LEGO characters make the best actors.
+ Epic ground battles!
+ So many unlockables and collectibles!

The BAD:
– Positioning things to build with the force is still fiddly.
– Kids may actually find it a struggle at points.
– No online co-op?

Scores:

Graphics: 8
A big leap up from the previous games. Characters don’t look like flat bricks anymore and lighting has taken a major step up, along with some dark and gritty locations and ships as well.

Sound: 7.5
There isn’t any voice acting, but it’s more than made up for with a great soundtrack.

Story: 7
Each of the four story mission paths are divided into mini-stories based on the TV series and are explained by some scrolling text at the beginning of each. They’re enjoyable enough, but it’s the cutscenes that steal the show, though they tell little in the way of story.

Gameplay: 8
At its core this is another LEGO game, but with enough additions and tweaks to keep fans happy. It’s simply, lighthearted fun, and that’s its charm.

Lifespan: 8.5
Around 8 or so hours for the main story missions, but if you’re a completionist feel free to book the week off.

Overall: 8.5
If you’re fed up of LEGO games then this won’t quite have enough to draw you back in, but for fans of the series this is the best LEGO game yet and provides plenty of lighthearted fun and mayhem with plenty to see and do, along with enough new gameplay features to keep you entertained.

 

 

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