|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Krome Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: LucasArts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 6, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Star Wars has always been something that has been able to appeal to an audience of any age. Still, the younger fans seem to have been seeing significantly more attention from the property in the years since the prequel trilogy wrapped up. This has led to things such as the 3D, computer animated Clone Wars series and the various games based on it as many fans' only options for new content based on the universe.
At least in the context of The Clone Wars games, they tend to suffer from the same things that plague most licensed games made for the younger crowd. These common issues include but are not limited to; little to no difficulty, tons of repetition, and more often than not the general sense of being a rushed and unfinished mess that does nothing more than exploit the name on the box. Unfortunately, Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes does little to buck this trend but instead just becomes another casualty of it.
The story of Republic Heroes takes place between season one and season two of The Clone Wars animated series and serves to bridge the gap between them. Players are put in the role of numerous Jedi characters from the series including Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Obi-wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, as well as some Clone Troopers, but more on that in a bit. Regrettably, unless you've been a religious watcher of the animated series, you may find the story more than a little difficult to follow. Almost every level you'll be controlling a different character as you jump around from story fragment to story fragment, perhaps never entirely certain about how these seemingly disparate segments fit together. You are treated to a few well done cinematics with an over-the-top announcer voice that attempt to sum up what is going on, but for the most part, you'll have to make do with in-engine cutscenes that seem as vague as they are graphically unimpressive.
Sadly, that's likely the first thing you'll notice about Republic Heroes. This game looks like it should have been released on the PS2 early in the console's lifecycle. The environments are fairly drab and unremarkable and the characters look rough even while going for an animated appearance to mimic that of the cartoon series. Another thing about the presentation that may irk some players is the poorly done lip synching. In most cases it looks like they took the fabled Mister Ed approach and smeared peanut butter on the characters gums to make them chew, so it would give the illusion that they were actually talking.
The game itself is made up of over thirty levels in which you'll play as either Jedi or Clone Troopers on missions for the Republic. Jedi levels consist of a steady mix of combat, platforming, and "puzzle-solving". The combat is both very simplistic and incredibly repetitive. You have one button to perform a force push, which is sadly your only force power, and one button to swing your lightsaber. Mashing your lightsaber button will form combos while holding the block button then hitting the button will result in a circular lightsaber throw that is useful for clearing out nearby hordes of droids.
Droids are basically your only opponents in Republic Heroes, and almost every type can be ridden and controlled by the player. By double jumping on top of a droid and hitting your lightsaber button you'll be given brief control over it. Once controlled, their attacks can be used to help take out more enemies or to clear paths that you'll need to progress, which is about the only form of "puzzle-solving" you'll experience. While atop a droid, you can also use your force button in order to instantly kill your robot ride. This seems like a cop out since it makes killing robots that would be somewhat imposing during a lightsaber fight, like a droideka, just as easy to dispatch as the completely disposable "Roger, Roger"-spouting battle droids.
Of course, if you're looking for a real challenge, then look no further than the platform jumping required in the game. Early in the game Yoda explains that jumping from one platform to another is easy for a Jedi because they can land on even the smallest of objects. This couldn't be further from the truth. While the game does attempt to make your character essentially stick to nearby platforms, it is ridiculously inconsistent in its implementation. One jump will have you landing safely on a platform while the next will send you plummeting into a pit of death. Keep in mind it's also often difficult to tell what is an actual platform due to poorly placed, fixed camera angles and platforms that visually blend in with backgrounds. This makes it nearly impossible to determine where to jump much less when you will or won't stick to a platform, creating the perfect recipe for frustration. The game attempts to temper this somewhat by having absolutely no downside to dying except the few seconds it takes you to respawn, but that just winds up feeling like a lazy fix for a broken portion of the game.