Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
Spawning multiple games over major franchises like Harry Potter and Indiana Jones, LEGO adaptations of movies have become a hugely popular trend that's been very successful for developer Traveller's Tales. However, the Star Wars movies really propelled the series into new heights as children and adults that grew up with Star Wars both dug the colorful adaptations of their beloved Star Wars characters. After completing the movie saga, Traveller's Tales turned their attention to The Clone Wars and have brought a few new ideas to the LEGO universe with Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii, a game based on the first two seasons of The Clone Wars animated series. The most notable improvement to the game is a bump in the amount of moving characters on the screen, hugely important in recreating the massive Clone War battles.
Chapters in the game are representative of a single episode in each season of the animated series. However, chapters are molded around villains rather than following the sequential order of the episodes in the seasons. This may disappoint fans of the animated series, but building up the storyline of each villain helps anyone understand what's going on. Much like previous LEGO titles, exploration is not only encouraged, but also required to get the full value out of each level. Puzzles also dominate the landscape and often require a bit of brain power to unlock. It's also encouraged to replay levels to find all the mini kits (10 mini kits open up a new character) and all the red / gold bricks hidden within the chapters.
There's also light RTS elements included in the game that require a modicum of strategy, but nothing that's overwhelming to anyone unfamiliar with the genre. Keeping track of your resources and building bases in strategic areas are the two biggest components of the RTS element. You are basically trying to expand and dominate the map. As you move into new areas, more vehicle, troop and structure options become available. In addition to annihilating the enemy forces, you are also racing against the clock to complete the level in a set amount of time. Cooperative play is significantly helpful during the RTS missions as expansion seems to be much quicker. Co-op play has also been improved to allow either player to leave each other's screen and go into a split screen mode. Players can work together for the greater goal while still being independent of each other. However, there still isn't online support for co-op play so you will need a local friend to take advantage. It is, however, still drop-in and drop-out.
The Hub world in The Clone Wars has moved beyond a simple Catina or spaceport and launched the players into an epic space battle between two giant star ships. As you complete levels, new portions of the ship will be opened up for you to explore. This opens up the game to find new characters to purchase as well. The ship is a bit of a chore to navigate though and you will be wishing for a fast travel system similar to Mass Effect after a while. Purchasing the right character may give you access to a new ship or you can buy them at the shops located around the star ship. In addition, this allows the player to fly over to the enemy cruiser and purchase even more characters / ships. You will also find the occasional side quest in the hub areas.
While the game often seems more focused on the bigger picture when it comes to battles, our favorite Force-filled characters have a wider variety of moves / attacks. They can use the Force to manipulate objects / enemies in the environment as well as throw their lightsabers during battle. Characters can also hop into vehicles and plow over the enemy troops or simply terrorize them from the skies before landing to deploy your other personal clone army. Boss battles are highly entertaining and feature some touch villains like General Grievous and Count Dooku. If you are interested in trophies, there are a ton of them to collect, some related to the story mode and other's related to epic battles from the movies. Who wouldn't want to land a spaceship on an planet while using Lando to get the "Land-o Calrissian" trophy?
Having played most of the games in the series on various consoles, this is easily the best looking LEGO game that's been released, both in visual flair and overall performance. The animation style if reminiscent of the animated series and characters move around in a similar fashion. As mentioned earlier, the number of moving objects on-screen has been raised dramatically which brings life to the large scale battles, both in space and on the ground. The game is extremely colorful and often feels just as chaotic as a typical Clone War battle should be. Unfortunately, the camera is still a problem most of the time and you will find yourself fighting with it constantly.
Traveller's Tales does an excellent job of adapting the classic Star Wars music and music from the animated show into the LEGO game. The same compliment goes for the sound effects, laden with blaster sounds, silly droids and swooping lightsabers.
While the core gameplay has remained largely unchanged, the concept remains as entertaining as ever. If your inner perfectionist earns for more LEGO action, the sheer amount of content to work through in the game could easily take 30 to 40 hours to knock everything out. My only complaint is that those unfamiliar with the animated series will likely miss some of the humor that Traveller's Tales included in the game; something that has been reduced greatly compared to previous games. For anyone that's played the previous LEGO Star Wars titles or for those that love the animated television series on the Cartoon Network, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a fantastic purchase that can be enjoyed by fans of all ages.