Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels Review
Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Krome Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Lucas Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 11, 2008 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

Ever since the Wii’s controller was revealed, Star Wars fans have dreamt of being able to wield their own virtual lightsaber. These dreams have largely gone unfulfilled as the Wii-mote has consistently proven itself to not handle one to one motion detection very well. At E3 2008, Nintendo announced the Wii MotionPlus add-on, which would seemingly make these fans’ dreams a real possibility. The only problem is that Nintendo failed to get it into Lucas Arts’ hands before they finished making Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels, a fighting game that is built entirely around lightsaber combat.

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels screenshot

Lightsaber Duels takes place during The Clone Wars animated film and cartoon series, which means it slips in somewhere between the events of Episode II and Episode III. The game stays true to the source material it is based on, having Anakin, his new apprentice Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan trying to return Jabba the Hutt’s child home safely. As with The Clone Wars, this involves several lightsaber battles against the likes of Count Dooku, his apprentice Asajj Ventress, and General Grievous.

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All of this game’s characters and backdrops will be very familiar to anyone who has experienced either of these other Clone Wars properties. Sticking with the cartoony and stylistic visuals provided by The Clone Wars actually manages to work in Lightsaber Duels’ favor. The characters wind up looking very comparable to their CGI counterparts, which is pretty impressive even if Count Dooku’s face is roughly three feet long. The excellent lighting effects provided by lightsaber clashes further add to the visual appeal of these character models, with shades of red, blue, and green light casting shadows and illuminating features while the camera is closely focused on these characters’ faces.

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels screenshot

The fighting arenas in the game are not only visually impressive, but also help to add variety to most fights. A conflict next to a Sarlacc pit will include random smacks from tentacles, while fighting on the exterior of a ship will have intermittent bursts of engine exhaust to avoid. Several of these occurrences can also be hard to account for as they will happen during your matches, with separatists bursting through the wall of the Rancor pit to fire blasters at you being one of the most memorable. At times this can get annoying, but mostly it adds a sense of spontaneity and excitement to the otherwise fairly dull combat.

Due to the current limitations of the Wii-mote, Lightsaber Duels doesn’t allow for precision lightsaber controls. Instead, the game recognizes upward, downward, and side to side slashes, which translate into similar moves carried out by your character. The Wii-mote also registers (poorly I might add) thrusts towards the screen that result in a thrusting strike. Every character in the game is allotted five combos, which are performed by stringing together a specific series of these basic attacks. Unfortunately, the game will often fail to recognize many of these motions, especially when done in the quick succession necessary to actually carry out these combos.

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels screenshot

Sadly, your other offensive tools don’t help matters out any either. Players have very few force powers, limited to strengthening your lightsaber attacks, throwing objects at your opponent, and a force push maneuver. Using the force to hurl objects at your enemy is a pointless endeavor, partly because it doesn’t work a majority of the time and partly because when it actually does, it uses a good chunk of your force power and results in very small amount of damage. Although the force push maneuver works more reliably, it will also take most of your force power and will also barely make a dent in your foe.

Screenshots / Images
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