The Force is Animated With This One
For the last five years, LucasArts and Traveller’s Tales have been cranking out Lego Star Wars games, covering the full breadth of the beloved series. In February 2011, they intend to keep it coming with Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. The story will predictably cover the Clone Wars, with content from both the movie and the animated series. The developers at Traveller’s Tales are sticking with what they know works with the release of The Clone Wars. There will be a lot of familiar gameplay that veterans of the franchise will spot, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, we all know the saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
This doesn’t mean there is nothing new coming with The Clone Wars. Most of the familiarity will be in the form of gameplay, allowing players of previous titles to immediately pick up and play without trying to learn some new and complex game engine. We also see the return of unique abilities for each character in the group, which help you work your way through each level. In previous titles, these abilities would help the player take control of a character to open the way for everyone else (eg. R2-D2 using his hover ability to cross over a long distance to extend a bridge for the rest of the party). Now the abilities look like they will be more offensive in battle. This new twist is demonstrated in gameplay videos where we see the player using a clone trooper’s rockets to disable the guns of a heavy tank, following which they use the Jedi to deliver the final blow. It will be interesting to see what other bigger enemies/boss fights will be in store come release.
The Lego Star Wars games have always been good looking, and The Clone Wars is no different. The whole game looks beautiful from the capital ships in the space battles to the clone troopers on the ground. I’ve always enjoyed the fun, light animation of the series, and this promises to be the best looking of them all. The sound is also solid. Everything sounds just as if you were watching the movies themselves rather than playing a game.
Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, among the unchanged features in The Clone Wars is the number of players it can support. Despite both the PS3 and Xbox 360 being able to support four simultaneous players, The Clone Wars will only support two players at a time. This is a shame because Lego Star Wars as a series is fun to play with a group of your friends or family. Maybe we will see additional player support in future downloadable content, but with something like this, if it isn’t available when the game is released, it likely won’t ever be available.
With The Clone Wars, we will see the return of space combat. To keep things interesting for the title’s veterans, this game is going to feature the ability for players to land their craft during combat in order to complete certain objectives. For example, we might destroy a portion of an enemy ship, opening an area we can land in to disable some of the ship’s guns. There is still a lot unknown about everything we will be able to do upon landing, but I think it is a really interesting idea and will add a great dynamic to space combat if it’s properly implemented.
Overall, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars looks like a great game both in terms of gameplay and graphics. While there are a few things that we’d like to see changed, the ability to play with four people among them, this game has a great number of things going in its favor. With a number of new features, in-game players familiar with the series will be able to enjoy a fun sense of discovery as they uncover things that they haven’t seen in previous titles while simultaneously allowing them to be comfortable with the feel and flow of the game that has remained unchanged. For those out there that have yet to explore Lego Star Wars, this is as good a time as any to start. With strong gameplay, great visuals, and enjoyable puzzle-based level progression, I doubt any of us will be disappointed when The Clone Wars hits shelves in February of 2011.