Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (3DS) Review
The LEGO series have always been pretty well thought out, but in more recent times I’ve felt they’ve really begun getting stale. With the release of LEGO Star Wars and its sequel, followed by a compilation title, I was under the impression that we’d seen the last of the Star Wars franchise in LEGO form and that Traveller’s Tales would probably hold off. And now, we have a third instalment in the franchise, based entirely on The Clone Wars. Despite being something I’m a little bit tired of, Lego Star Wars III manages to mix things up just a little bit to make it feel like a more substantial sequel rather than a reskinned reiteration of previous titles.
Taking place in between Episodes II and III, The Clone Wars follows Anakin and Obi-Wan’s exploits throughout this period, filling in a lot of the story between the episodes as well as following the animated series quite closely. Considering that the developers really had no other time periods to place another game in, this is probably the next best thing. It’s especially nice to see some of the characters from the expanded universe gain a little bit of exposure where they didn’t in the main films too.
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is generally a pretty good looking game. The character models are super smooth, the environments are extremely varied and still very lush looking, and the framerate runs at a very acceptable level both in 2D and 3D. One of the coolest things about the art design for the LEGO games is how the team takes standard Star Wars hallmarks and modifies them to look as if they were constructed out of LEGO. The lighting and the texturing is always of the highest quality in the LEGO games and thankfully this is still the case with Lego Star Wars III, although there were times where we felt the developers went a little overboard with the lighting and washing out some of the detail. Still, for the most part, the game looks very nice.
The 3D effect is used in a pretty subtle way in Lego Star Wars III, where collected items almost pop out of the screen as they move around the playing field. The effect is also there during cinematic sequences, although these are very hit and miss. Some of these scenes made me wonder if I had the slider turned up at all, while others worked very well with many things appearing to jump out of the screen in some of the more intense scenes. Lasers and ships in particular always seemed to jump out at me which was a very nice use of the effect. During actual gameplay, the effect is only slightly noticeable, with some platforms and rocky structures poking out of the plane – but during some of the aerial combat sequences the ship itself actually sticks out much more, which is a very nice use of the effect.
The “model” for LEGO games has not really change throughout the years. Players take a group of characters through a level, destroying items and building new items out of LEGO pieces in order to progress, usually in some clever or humorous way. Each character actually has a unique ability that allows them to access separate areas of the level, and usually that character is not available on the first playthrough. This is where most of the LEGO games’ replayability comes, and it mainly appeals to completionists. There are heaps to collect in Lego Star Wars III, including characters that have special powers that come in handy during revisits of certain stages.
The game itself controls very smoothly, with the Circle Pad once again outperforming the d-pad in practically every way. The touchscreen can be tapped or held to use unique character-specific abilities, or one of the face buttons can be used instead. It feels a little like a shoe-horned way to utilise the touchscreen when it really wasn’t needed, but some players may appreciate the choice. The combat itself is rather simplistic, with most encounters being easily dealt with by just constantly hitting the attack button and occasionally moving.
There are multiple new features that the developers have brought to the table this time around which mix things up quite a bit. In particular, the aerial dogfighting scenes have been significantly retooled and now have an almost Star Fox-esque feel. These moments play great and really do a great job at capturing the intensity of similar sequences in the film. Characters themselves have new abilities, even some Jedi can scale large areas using their lightsabers. Finally, some of the boss characters are significantly larger, giving the game a little bit of a more epic feel.
Generally speaking, the game offers quite a bit of content to plow through, although there is little challenge and the simplistic nature of the gameplay can mean that many will get bored as they trudge through the levels. There are mini-games to unlock by collecting items throughout the main story levels, but these aren’t very substantial and are not very enjoyable to play. StreetPass is supported, allowing players to earn studs by passing nearby players, but once again this doesn’t feel like a very well thought out feature, instead it feels incredibly forced. Finally, the distinct lack of multiplayer options despite the 3DS’s capabilities to communicate wirelessly feel like a hugely missed opportunity.
The soundtrack is of course very well put together, utilising famous tracks from the series throughout the years. There’s really nothing to complain about here.
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a little bit of a step in the right direction for the LEGO Star Wars series, although I must wonder where they could possibly take the series from here. It’s foolish to say that the series needs a rest, as they still sell well and there are already more titles on the way, however the developers should still look into putting a little more effort into making the games much more with substantial upgrades from iteration to iteration.
Nice animations, nice textures and generally good use of lighting. Sometimes, however, the lighting feels way too intense and washes out details. 3D effect is subtle but adds to some scenes, but youll be looking hard to see if its still actually on.
While this is a step above some of the other titles available for the Nintendo 3DS, most of the gameplay is too simplistic too persevere through the lengthy campaign. New additions are a nice touch, such as more epic boss battles, but nothing substantial has been added
All your favourite classical Star Wars tunes are played out in some epic and intense battle scenes.
This ones a bit hard to judge theres heaps of stuff to collect and a lengthy campaign, but some people may be put off by the simplistic gameplay which may lead to boredom.
While I am still burnt out on the LEGO series, its nice to see the team attempting to add different features to mix things up, but its a bit of a shame that these are rather superficial changes.