The Clone Wars (the Cliff Notes Version)
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars on the 3DS is the best example of how much things stay the same the more they change. Sure, the 3DS presents developers with an opportunity to expand their gameplay, but what will probably end up happening with massively multiplayer games is a truncated handheld experience will be created, slapped with some shiny 3D, and then sent to print. Though I expect this type of porting to become more common in the future, we can see the beginning of the end in LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. The 3DS version of the game is most certainly inferior to the console versions of the game, and despite some cute 3D moments, if you want to experience The Clone Wars in all its glory, don’t use the 3DS to do so.
The console versions of LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars present players with a deep world to explore, plenty of puzzles, and memorable boss fights. In the 3DS version you get linear side-scrolling and a lot of switch pulling. Though you can use the force to build things, it is rarely needed to do anything more than build a bridge or operate a broken-down machine. The format of the game in the 3DS version is so simplistic that most players will be able to run through it in just a handful of hours. And while the console versions encourage exploration, the 3DS version encourages going in a straight line. Even the unlockables are in plain sight. I know the LEGO series is meant to be for everyone, but the lack of any kind of difficulty here just seems out of place in a series that has been quite challenging in the past.
But if you don’t mind the incredibly easy gameplay and truncation of the Star Wars universe in the 3DS version of the game, there is one other element that may trouble those who want to pick this game up, and this problem is not just limited to the 3DS: the story. One of the big reasons why LEGO Star Wars worked so well is that it took familiar story elements and poked fun at them. There was no real plot, but in the Star Wars series (as well as other LEGO-ized franchises), it worked well because we were all familiar with the source material.
Though the development team took the same approach with LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, the effect isn’t as streamlined. Events just sort of “happen,” and if you aren’t a devout follower of The Clone Wars TV show, you probably won’t get most of the jokes. The game doesn’t make much of an effort to explain anything that goes on in the game, and if your interest in LEGO Star Wars III comes purely from affection for the old LEGO Star Wars series, you may be disappointed at how the events of The Clone Wars TV series are portrayed. There’s almost no nods to the original or prequel movie series in the game, and even though I have watched most of The Clone Wars series (I won’t claim to be an expert, but I’ll watch it when it’s on) a lot of the content in the game left me scratching my head. Because The Clone Wars is a lot less mainstream than the Star Wars movies, I expected some kind of content there to help those who didn’t closely follow the series. But unfortunately, none was included.
The only real redeeming facet of the game is the 3D cutscenes, which are amazing. Watching clone troopers run towards you as battle ships zoom overhead is a great feeling, and one that gives the game a truly cinematic feel, despite the system’s small screen size. The cutscenes with the signature Star Wars floating letters also look amazing in 3D, and almost have me excited for the 3D-makes of the original movies in theaters. The in-game 3D is also rendered quite nicely, and gives levels a nice bit of depth. The best use of the 3D is definitely in the first level, where caverns and rock formations texture the environment. The 3D gives a very realistic sense to the environment, and though the environment itself is two-dimensional in scope, the visuals help bring it to life spectacularly.
Unfortunately, other than the 3D effects, Star Wars III: The Clone Wars doesn’t use much of the 3DS’ hardware. The game does feature a Play coins mode that allows you to exchange steps for characters, and there is a SpotPass mode that lets you exchange characters, but these modes are far from integral to the game, and don’t add much to the experience. In fact, you probably won’t notice them. The biggest disappointment though is the lack of multiplayer. The 3DS has shown that it is capable of doing local and online multiplayer extremely well, and the fact that a game that has a console version designed for multiplayer would omit it in this edition is more than a little annoying, especially when you have to pay $40 for it.
If all you have is a 3DS, and you want to play LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, then you’ll find a proficient game here. It works well enough, and even though it’s far too easy and features ridiculously simplistic gameplay, it still gets the job done. Still, paying $40 for a game that just gets the job done feels a little wrong, and if you are a real LEGO Star Wars fan, you would be better served picking up the console version. LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars isn’t a bad game on the 3DS. It just suffers from being so much better on other consoles.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
3D visuals are done well, and cutscenes in particular look great. 3.2 Control
Side-scrolling controls work very easily. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music sounds great through the 3DS speakers. 3.0 Play Value
The game is much shorter and easier on the 3DS, and can be beaten in an afternoon. Unlockables are barely hidden, so there’s no real reason to venture back into this one. 3.3 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best