|System: PC, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, 3DS|
|Dev: Traveller's Tales|
|Release: March 22, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Sean Engemann
LEGO video games date back to 1997, but didn't truly start their golden age until developer Traveller's Tales took control of the brand and paired up with publishing giant LucasArts to bring us LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. Since that day dawned, a mere six years ago, TT Games has partnered with other big name publishers to bring us Batman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and soon to be released Pirates of the Caribbean, all based in the world's most iconic block universe. Yet the hallmark series has, and probably always will be, with the folks from, "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars takes its place as the third game in the series (The Complete Saga not included) and focuses on the events of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and the first two seasons of the animated series, The Clone Wars. You'll begin with an epic escape from the Geonosian execution arena, then you are brought to Anakin Skywalker's flagship, the Resolute, where you are free to explore or continue the story missions, most of which have you hunting down either Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku, or General Grievous.
The gameplay mechanics have not strayed too far from their roots, nor has the humor. Despite the epic struggle between the forces of good and evil, the game always carries a sense of lightness and whimsy; it's an engrossing and hilarious parody, especially for those familiar with the storyline of the animated series. The downside is that gamers who are not familiar with the series may find themselves scratching their heads... but still chuckling through the confusion.
You spend most of time running through the different areas, smashing or blasting everything in sight to gain precious studs, the currency you amass in astronomical amounts. These studs can then be used to purchase all manner of unlockables, from new characters (there are 114 in total to collect) to hidden red blocks which grant you a plethora of bonuses. When you've completed a mission, you can return to that area in a free play mode with any character you've unlocked to try and best your score and collect minikits, also used to unlock characters. Because the game is so fun and addictive, you'll have no reservations about playing a level over and over again.
It's a good thing the fun factor is so high because it overshadows the game's biggest flaw, which is the lack of direction. From the very beginning, while trying to escape the arena and being swarmed by droids and other baddies, a tip from Yoda will pop up, giving you an idea on how to proceed, but will fade nearly as quickly as it came. If you were busy keeping an eye on your character and the action on screen, too bad, you missed it, and it's never coming back. So now you're stuck in Limbo, desperately trying to figure out how to proceed. This problem is persistent throughout the entire game, and for many puzzles, you aren't even given hints, so it's trial and error until you stumble upon the solution. Another issue along the same lines is getting lost aboard the ships. Between the Resolute and later Grievous' ship, the Malevolence, there's a lot of nooks and crannies to discover, but you'll always have to book it back to the bridge if you want to continue the missions. There's no onboard map system, so if you're lost or don't want to make the hike, the best solution is to save and quit, then reload, taking you right to the bridge.
Although the biggest issue, it still tends to be something you brush off, since there's always something close by to smash or blast into stud goodness. How you demolish everything in sight is just as enjoyable as the bounty collected. Each character approaches combat differently, and many have multiple attacks at their disposal. Jedis and other users of the Force wield lightsabers, and have many different Force-based abilities to fool around with. Troopers use blasters, miniguns, rocket launchers, grappling hooks, and different grenade-like weapons. Even droids like R2-D2 can stun enemies for a brief period. Along with the multiple ways to dispatch enemies, the tools are also required to obtain level bonuses and solve the various puzzles. So although you can breeze through the main story in just a few hours, you'll be tempted (especially completionist gamers) to keep going back for more, with a lot of extras to be found.