It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost five years since the release of Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. After LucasArts and developer TT Games retold both trilogies in Lego form, most gamers assumed that the Star Wars story was over. But after forays in Gotham City and Hogwarts, TT Games is back with a third Lego Star Wars game, this time based on “The Clone Wars” cartoon.
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (Version Played)
Also On: 3DS, DS, PSP, Wii
Developer: TT Games
Release Date: March 22, 2011
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
The aptly named Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars takes place during the three-year period between Episode II and Episode III. If you’ve played any of the Lego games released before the “Clone Wars” series was just a glimmer in George Lucas’ eye, you’ll know what to expect from Lego Star Wars III. Players will control a party of two to four characters and solve moderately tricky puzzles while blasting away at battle droids with a blaster or a Lightsaber. But in the five years since the last Lego Star Wars game, TT Games has come up with a few new tricks to bring to the brick-based world we all know and love.
A few of those tricks come straight from the Star Wars saga’s latest success, The Force Unleashed. Lego Anakin and Lego Obi-Wan are now able to throw their Lightsabers to cause damage from a distance. The duo will also take on larger battle droids that won’t go down with a few Lightsaber slices. Instead, you’ll have to trigger a one-button Quick Time Event to get the upper hand.
The game will also include expanded vehicle sections, a feature of the Lego Star Wars games that never seemed to gel. In the level I played, “Shadow of Malevolence,” the vehicular vignettes still leave a lot to be desired. In The Clone Wars, players will be able to land their Jedi Starfighter and continue the fight on the ground. But aside from flipping a switch a few feet from the landing pad, combining these two gameplay styles doesn’t make the level feel any more expansive. And while “Shadow of Malevolence” is one of the largest vehicle levels I’ve yet seen in the Lego Star wars saga, it still falls back on the aimless shooting that has become the standard in these types of levels.
Thankfully, the on-foot level, “Destroy Malevolence,” had a lot more going for it. As I said, if you’ve played a Lego Star Wars game, nothing you see in Lego Star Wars III will be too out of this world. It provides the same cheeky take on the Star Wars universe that you’ve experienced in two previous games. But The Clone Wars is running on an enhanced version of the franchise’s engine, which makes everything shine like never before. The Lego-ized version of Star Wars in Lego Star Wars III feels bigger and more detailed. The combat is still configured for the kiddies, but some of the puzzles are surprisingly clever.
Near the end of “Destroy Malevolence,” I had to use my Lightsaber to cut into the wall to expose a power port. Then I had to switch over to Padme to pull the power cord down from the wall. After restoring power to the engines I had to use The Force to drive the huge starship towards the planet while fighting off a squad of battle droids. And I had to do all of this without Obi-Wan, because he was separated from the group, thanks to another new feature known as Story Swap.
During Story Swap sections of a level, your party will be separated and completing puzzles with one half of the party will open up new areas for the other half of the party to explore. Reuniting both halves of the party is the goal in Story Swap, and it really makes the game feel bigger, while at the same time solving the problem found in previous games of characters getting stuck on the environments.
So for the third time, if you’ve ever played a Lego Star Wars game before, you’ll know what to expect from Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. A few tweaks and additions have slightly improved the already winning formula and if you’re not burnt out on the series (a common complaint after Lego Batman and Lego Indiana Jones), this one looks like it’ll be a winner too. Of course, always in motion the future is, and we’ll find out for sure when the game is released on March 22nd.