Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Video Game Review)

The way we see it, Lego-based video games can have a certain appeal for everyone. It really depends on the theme and what Travellers Tales, their developer, puts into them. Over the years, we’ve had some great games come around based on the Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones universe, but lately, it almost seemed like the ingenuity was running a little dry, between the slightly overproduced (though moderately enjoyable) Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues and the merely above-average Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4. But it appears that Travellers Tales is finally starting to crawl out of the slump by putting some much-deserved ambition into its Lego games. That doesn’t mean it’s leaving the formula in the dust, as the Lego characters, settings, and opportunities to build new things are still in check. But Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a momentous leap forward for Lego development, showing sophistication where the previous games didn’t, while still remaining as fun as ever.

The game puts you in control of multiple characters from the universe based on the animated Clone Wars series, including Anakin Skywalker (before he turned all evil and stuff), a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, a wily Yoda, various Clone Troopers armed with everything including lasers and rocket launchers, and several others. You’ll fly across the universe using a helpful interactive guide, tracking down multiple missions (they split into various storylines) that involve Count Dooku, his protégé Ventress, and others. Most of the stories are based on episodes from the series, though there are a few events – like the opening mission – that stem from the last film trilogy. Like previous Lego games, you’ll fight your way through hordes of enemies, from droids to roll-up shielded Destroyers to abnormally sized enemies, such as Dooku’s monstrous pet roggwart, Gor. Some enemies can easily be defeated, while others require a strategy. For instance, Destroyers with red shields can only be taken down if you shoot at a rockpile above it. It’s this strategy in certain areas that keep the game from becoming monotonous.

By the same token, though, it would help to have a few objectives pointed out. We found ourselves stuck in certain levels because we couldn’t quite figure out, except through trial and error, which character was needed for what. For instance, could someone please explain to us why a Clone Trooper can activate a switch with a pulley, yet the Jedi characters can’t use their Force powers to? It’s this sort of thing that may frustrate younger players, leaving them to go, “What do I do now?” Fortunately, the game has more than enough fun moments to make up for this lull. There’s plenty of humor in each scenario, which plays out with opening and closing CG scenes that never lose their sense of whimsy. You’ll chuckle, despite your age, and then get into the game, either alone or with a friend through local co-op. (There’s no online play, but it’s not the end of the world.)

Lego Star Wars III is definitely more fun with a friend, as you can work together to complete missions, unlock new challenges and gather up more loot left by destroyed objects and defeated enemies. It’s great working together, or even throwing a competitive angle into it, trying to see who can come up with the most coinage. But fear not. Even if you manage to come in second place, Lego Star Wars III has plenty of rewards. Along with extra characters, unlockable multiplayer modes (most of them fun) and the ability to really build up some epic battles, the game has replayability galore. Even more than Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, which is a little odd considering the complexity that went into that game’s development. Unlocking each mission gives you an Achievement as well, so you’ll have plenty of points to pad your Gamerscore with.

Gameplay hasn’t changed majorly in Lego Star Wars III, with the exception of more vehicular stages. There are points where you’ll need to fly around, gathering photon torpedoes and destroying stuff on an epic scale. The space battles are marvelous too, as you fly around ships and take down vital points on cruisers to send them crashing down to the planetside. It’s not quite the dream Star Wars universe, but it’s a huge step up from what the previous Lego Star Wars games provided. Wow indeed. As for visuals, they really rock. While the environments and characters don’t shake free of the Lego motif, they look remarkable when they’re moving about, and you really feel like you’re part of the Star Wars universe, even if it’s an alternate take. The bigger enemies and explosions are truly impressive, and the larger stages, where hundreds of bad guys pile on, will leave you jumping around like crazy – in a good way. If Lego Pirates of the Caribbean holds up just as well when it comes out in May, count us in.

Gameplay hasn’t changed majorly in Lego Star Wars III, with the exception of more vehicular stages. There are points where you’ll need to fly around, gathering photon torpedoes and destroying stuff on an epic scale. The space battles are marvelous too, as you fly around ships and take down vital points on cruisers to send them crashing down to the planetside. It’s not quite the dream Star Wars universe, but it’s a huge step up from what the previous Lego Star Wars games provided. Wow indeed. As for visuals, they really rock. While the environments and characters don’t shake free of the Lego motif, they look remarkable when they’re moving about, and you really feel like you’re part of the Star Wars universe, even if it’s an alternate take. The bigger enemies and explosions are truly impressive, and the larger stages, where hundreds of bad guys pile on, will leave you jumping around like crazy – in a good way. If Lego Pirates of the Caribbean holds up just as well when it comes out in May, count us in.

Game Information:
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Publisher: LucasArts
Platforms: Reviewed for Xbox 360
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Score: 7.5 out of 10
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