Game Review

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jacob Crites

A well-honed clone or a droid to avoid?

Back in 2005, if you would have told someone that six years down the road, LEGO Star Wars would still be one of the most bankable and consistently enjoyable franchises in gaming, you would have been laughed at. Many called the idea a shallow cash grab, yet here we are in 2011 with another instalment in the hugely popular series.

Before the Wii fully tapped into the casual gaming crowd, the idea of making any game (other than maybe Mario Party) primarily for a family audience was still not widely considered to be a wise or potentially profitable business plan.

But LEGO Star Wars wasn't a lazy cash-in. It was an incredibly fun and whimsical action-platformer whose unique sense of humor and charm captivated everyone from LEGO-loving kids to old-school Star Wars fans who had grown disillusioned with the recent, melodramatic prequels.

Things are a little different now.

Not much has changed in the ol' LEGO formula since the first game came out, and if you've enjoyed previous entries in the series, there's little reason to suspect you wouldn't enjoy LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars as well. Sadly, some surprising omissions, a few gameplay issues and technical problems make it the closest the series has come to that first feared lazy cash grab.

Of course the tricky thing right off the bat is that of all sagas in the Star Wars universe, the Clone Wars is by far the least familiar, mostly because it's so new and primarily relegated to an animated television series. As a result, the nostalgia/familiarity factor is lost almost immediately for the Average Joe. This isn't a problem while playing the levels themselves, but the cutscenes and story sequences, all of which are silently acted, are more confusing than they ought to be.

It's a testament to the gameplay, then, that the title remains mostly enjoyable despite this. As in the other LEGO Star Wars games, you'll be gallivanting across various planets and galaxies while using a mixture of platforming, exploration and character-based puzzle-solving to pass each story level. Unlike some of the other entries in the series, The Clone Wars wisely focuses on these gameplay staples for the most part, rather than repetitious combat; in fact there are several clever instances where the combat is a puzzle in and of itself. It's also worth noting that although you'll still be using multiple characters to complete each level, the character-swapping mechanics have been significantly streamlined. Instead of having your entire party following you around at all times, there's now only ever one player on the screen, meaning you simply switch characters with the R and L triggers. The developers put this to fairly good use as well, as certain enemies require the participation of multiple party members in quick succession to be destroyed.

Your party members aren't just aesthetically different, however — as series vets know, every character has their own special ability that can be used to complete specific puzzles or grant them certain advantages in combat. Yoda, for example, as a short little guy can fit in small nooks and crannies that a larger character might not be able to access. The levels, which are some of the best the series has seen, have a certain amount of depth to them as well: you might see a ledge with a special object on it that you can't reach with your current party, for example, meaning you'll have to come back later with a different character or two to reach it. You see, for the uninitiated, LEGO Star Wars is quite reminiscent of the platformers of the N64/PS1 era in that it's very much about collecting things. Completionists are definitely going to get the most mileage out of this one, as all the collectables, combined with the branching level designs, give the player plenty of reasons to go back and visit the story missions multiple times.

If there's one thing that has really made the series popular, though, it's the great co-operative multiplayer, which is why it's such a shame that this game doesn't have any.

It's a pretty baffling omission, quite frankly. Even some of the DS iterations of the LEGO games, such as LEGO Indiana Jones, had a full fledged co-op mode. Given the 3DS's significantly greater horsepower, its omission is both strange and hugely disappointing. It doesn't do the minigames any favours either: these unlockable extras feel like little more than pointless distractions without a friend to play them with. The StreetPass feature doesn't make up for the loss at all, as all it does is grant you a few extra studs (the game's currency), though considering the number of these you need to unlock all the characters, every little helps.

Of course as you probably expected, most of the 3DS' extra power is used on the visuals, which are undeniably mesmerising. Whether you have the 3D turned on or off, LEGO Star Wars III is one great looking game, with incredible texture work, sharp lighting effects and beautiful environments. The 3D is, as expected, a double-edged sword — the frame rate takes a hit if you have it turned on, but it also adds a surprising amount of depth to the environments, and makes the otherwise jagged character models appear much smoother. It's not the best showcase of the system's graphical prowess on the launch lineup, but it's a visual treat nonetheless.

The one area that not even the 3D visuals can save, however, is the dogfight missions, which are just short of unbearable. They don't control well (even with the usually-excellent Circle Pad), they're a bummer to look at, and to top it off they're simply not fun. Mercifully, these missions are infrequent, and are usually backed up by a strong traditional mission-type or two.

During our play through the game froze on at least five occasions, and it doesn't appear to be at all related to the most recent 3DS update (which has been causing similar problems) as no error message occurs during freezing. There were also some instances during cutscenes where characters would just completely fail to animate. These issues don't seem to be affecting everyone's copy of the game, but having to replay a level three times simply because it keeps freezing on you is an inexcusable issue in any game, and a particularly shocking one from this typically well-polished series.

Conclusion

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a tough one to pin down. Its single player mode is just as fun as previous entries in the series, if not more so; its puzzles and level designs are wonderfully clever, if not particularly challenging, and new abilities like wall-jumping add even more variety to the already solid experience. Fans of exploration will have an even better time with the game, as there are numerous, tough-to-find collectables in each level. On the other hand, you're going to have to put up with some seriously mediocre flight missions, potentially game-ending bugs, and there's no multiplayer to speak of.

In a word: disappointing. What we have here is a fun game that, with a bit of polish and a few extra features could have been something truly special.

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User Comments (41)

Azikira

#2

Azikira said:

Kind of expected a score like that, but im sure I'll love it anyways :3
Lego Star Wars is one of the only lego games I can play over and over. I probably had 45 hours put into the horribly glitched beyond repair Lego Star Wars II for the original DS.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#3

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Lego games are usually of a high standard of polish and design but this is a mixed bag unusually. Some excellent, some shoddy.

WaveBoy

#4

WaveBoy said:

So, when are we going to see the Bust-A-Movie universe review?
I'm dieing to hear how that one turned out.

Xkhaoz

#5

Xkhaoz said:

I wish that Lego games would get a soaking of newness like Pokemon did with B&W.

CorbsAdmin

#7

Corbs said:

Zach, is that you in LEGO form on the left in the banner? :D

Metroid133

#9

Metroid133 said:

I am greatly enjoying this game! The lack of multiplayer is a tad disappointing, but it isn't like I would of had anyone to play with either. >.> So far based on the first four missions I've played I would give it an 8/10. I've never seen the animated series (save for the movie in the theater), but I do not mind one bit! :P The 3D is nice in my opinion at times. I switch from 3D to no 3D every now and then! I will say though have the 3D on at Mission 4's start! :D

@WaveBoy I have Bust-A-Move Universe, and I must say in my opinion it has some of the best 3D of the games I've played! It isn't so much depth (none really :P), but the stuff that pops off the screen that stuns me! This is my first Bust-A-Move game, and I love it! :D somewhere between a 7.5-8.5 is what I would give it! Not entirely sure! :P

Kid_A

#10

Kid_A said:

@Metroid133
Glad to hear you're enjoying the game :)
The great co-op is what really caused me to first fall in love with the series, and I know it is for a lot of people, so it was very disappointing in that regard.

That, combined with the load of glitches I and others have been experiencing really brought down the score but I really did have fun with it while it lasted :)

theblackdragonAdmin

#12

theblackdragon said:

@Zaphod: that is indeed a big question. until Nintendo's had a chance to update the firmware and solve the black-screen-of-death issue, there's not really any way of telling for absolute sure whether or not the bugs and crashing are actually the fault of this game or of the console itself. we can assume (because Kid_A says no error message accompanied the bugs in this game) that the crashing is the fault of the game itself, but there's no way to confirm or deny that yet.

Bretonultimate1

#14

Bretonultimate1 said:

I'm glad to hear the game is more fun than the previous ones. Flight missions have never been great anyway ;)

Kid_A

#20

Kid_A said:

Just so James doesn't behead me, I'll just let you know that he came up with the tagline, so give him the credit :D

There is a review under that tagline though...

Supremeist

#21

Supremeist said:

I expected this truly. It doesn't make it a bad game at all. Lego Star Wars will always be loads of fun. I wish they added more to there new games, though.

Kid_A

#23

Kid_A said:

@Zach
Gasp!
This is just a gripping whodunnit of tagline-writing isn't it? Perhaps I just misunderstood James' recent email to me...apologies.
See, you just should have stuck with my original one, no matter how obvious and underwhelming it may have been :p

LEGEND_MARIOID

#26

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Second season and episode two missions have been taken out.
Missions included are shorter.
Explore the Reprisal concept removed.
Battlefield concept removed.
Light side story only. HD versions have light and dark.
Story Swap concept took out.
No multiplayer.

Those are the differences from the wii version apparantly

ImDiggerDan

#27

ImDiggerDan said:

Having played for over 20 hours, I completely agree with the review. It's a great, fun game to play but spoiled by the stability issues, lack of multiplayer and certain apects which appear very rough and low quality.

I suspect this title was rushed out for the release and certain things sacrificed to meet that date. A real shame.

LeasTwanteD

#28

LeasTwanteD said:

Thanks for the review ! :)
Of course it would have been better with co-op ... Since it's maybe the best series with real cooperation needed to advance.
But well, i'll most likely get the Wii version for multiplayer anyway. (When it gets cheap that is.)

Jacob Crites wrote:

having to replay a level three times simply because it keeps freezing on you is an inexcusable issue in any game, and a particularly shocking one from this typically well-polished series.

It's not that unusual to me though. There's one level in Lego Indiana Jones on the Wii where you can get your elephants in a pit. So you have to restart the level. And in another level it crashes right before the last cutscene. So again you have to restart the level. The same happened to me in Lego Batman for the DS. :|
So being used to the level of stability Nintendo most often offers it's kind of hard to forgive these issues. And no, i didn't have problems with glitches in Other M and Twilight Princess. :)

shinesprite

#29

shinesprite said:

I was never really a fan of this movie, and I stopped watching the series five or so episodes in. Hopefully, TT will learn from their mistakes and make Pirates of the Caribbean really awesome!

Funem

#30

Funem said:

They really need to rethink the Lego games, they are nearly all the same bar the graphics. At first they were fun, now they are just a chore.

KrazyKain

#31

KrazyKain said:

damn... lack of multiplayer killed it for me... doesn't need internet play,just local multiplayer would have been find

Phobos

#32

Phobos said:

Never played a Lego game, so I wouldn't know how to judge this one. Seems it will stay that way, until I catch a bit of Pirates of the Carribean.

How ironic, I've never watched any of these films which have Lego games... Or at least, fully. xD

rdvid

#35

rdvid said:

I have the game, its quite good, so I don't understand the '6' :S

Bigrat

#37

Bigrat said:

Just got it, Pretty good, I would say an 8 as score, I agree with you rdvid

Bigrat

#38

Bigrat said:

I'm surprised that when I opened the little game box, it ad no directions other than the controls. If you were new the Lego Star Wars series, you would be completely lost.

Environ

#39

Environ said:

I usually check reviews on Nintendo Life because the reviewers seem to have the same criticisms and praises as I do toward games. Having put in 25+ hours into this title, I can confidently say that this one is spot-on (although I haven't experienced any freezing or glitches in my copy).

I haven't seen The Clone Wars yet, so I am entirely confused by those cut scenes! :)

JohnPhilipSousa

#40

JohnPhilipSousa said:

I remember playing the original with my brother, as well as a few others. He would always get mad because I would always get all the studs, and he had to go at my pace.

NitronMT

#41

NitronMT said:

I have this game for the Wii and 3ds.The Wii version is more difficult.You can't find all the gold bricks on it.(or is it just me and my little bro.?)Both are very humorous and are bright.On the Wii,you have to think a little harder.On the 3ds,you just have to play through and get through some obstacles(like droid runs)to get minikits and pass the level(s).But the Wii version and 3ds version are very different from each other.Yet,the game is still excellent and are fun to play.I would recommend this to thinkers and people who just want a funny,entertaining game.(AND OF COURSE,LEGO FANS)

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