May 14, 2011
Staying true to LEGO tradition, there isn't any real dialogue in the entire game. All it takes is just body language and some grunts to convey what's going on. Of course, it's a lot clearer if you've already seen the TV series. After all, that's part of the LEGO experience which plays on parodies of an established franchise. LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars follows the timeline of, well, you guessed it, the Clone Wars! Anakin, his Padawan learner Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are your lead characters. You'll often be joined by clone troopers as well. On that note, Rex and Cody make the occasional appearance. It's pretty much the same as the series so I won't bore you with it. Long story short, the story isn't what's important here as events are played out in-between missions with cut-scenes filled with slapstick humour that will even make The Three Stooges smile.
So let's get right onto the gameplay. Let's be honest, LEGO isn't a franchise where one might expect to find the most innovative mechanics, but what is there is solid platforming and puzzle-solving. Like any other LEGO game, it's up to you to get from one point to another while taking out Battle Droids, crooked mercenaries and whatnot, all the while collecting LEGO blocks and putting things together in order to create contraptions that will aid you in your quest to reach the end of a level. It's as the saying goes, if you've played one LEGO game, you've played them all. If you have high expectations for what LEGO can offer in terms of gameplay, you'll be left sour and disappointed. If you know what you're getting into, then get ready to have some fun.
The story campaign will throw you into the shoes of the respective characters associated with each episode. Most of the time you'll be playing as Anakin, Ahsoka or Obi-Wan. However, they're usually accompanied by two clone troopers as well. On the odd occasion, you can even play as Jar Jar Binks - and have him jump off a cliff until you're content. But I digress, you can swap between any available character on the fly and each one has a specific role. Jedi and Sith can use the Force to do some heavy lifting while clone troopers can use a grappling hook and set explosives. They each have their purpose and they do well to help in solving puzzles, most of which are insultingly easy, but considering the audience and the fact that it's LEGO, we'll cut the game some slack.
The overall gameplay remains largely the same throughout the game: you'll need to construct objects and mechanisms out of LEGO in order to move forward. However, there's just about as much destruction involved. As a Jedi, you can swing your lightsaber till your heart's content and take out just about every enemy that stands in your way. On occasion, you'll be forced to swap to another character in order to progress further. The little guys between bosses are really just fodder for you to destroy. Boss fights range from duels with Sith to battles with giant droids. Strangely enough, the fun is in collecting all the LEGO bits and solving puzzles - or perhaps I'm just a bit OCD. Regardless, there's at least some semblance of variety, including moments where you'll be piloting starfighters and engaging in memorable Star Wars dogfights. Overall though, it still feels like an incredibly repetitive game.
In addition to the story campaign, there are also free missions that you can tackle with characters of your choice. As you progress further in the story, you'll unlock even more Star Wars characters whom you can use in said free missions. Some areas within levels can only be accessed with this mode as you'll need specific characters like Yoda who can squeeze through tiny shafts while R2-D2 can open up locked doorways.
LEGO is still as charming as ever with its colourful visuals and nostalgic atmosphere, for both Star Wars fans and LEGO enthusiasts alike. However, there is one weird problem with the visuals and that is depth perception. For a game where depth is key in navigating around platforms, there really is none in this game. It's quite the challenge just to see if you're within the right plane or if you're actually jumping onto a platform and not down into an abyss towards your demise.
Another major drawback is the sound design. It's just dreadful. Sound effects sound about right for a Star Wars game, but the problem lies with the music. It's ironic, considering Star Wars is well known for its amazing musical score - I still hold fast that The Empire Strikes Back had the most amazing score out of the two trilogies. Then again, that was when John Williams was composer. Unfortunately, The Clone Wars sounds like someone blaring on a vuvuzela at the World Cup. There isn't a lot of variation to the music and for the most part it's just the same tune in loop. A very annoying one.
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a blast to play. The gameplay mechanics are solid and engaging in galactic dogfights can be rather exciting. The humour and parody is still as charming as ever, but the music is rather awful. As a whole, it's a fun, albeit very repetitive, game that Star Wars and LEGO fans can definitely get into. On that note, it's probably a better idea to invest in the home console version. Unless you have the spare cash to toss around, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars isn't exactly a must have, despite being an overall fun adventure.