Oct 31, 2012

[Games] LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (PS3)

This morning Disney announced that they are acquring Lucasfilm for about $4 billion. Plus they've also announced that an Episode 7 Star Wars movie is due to be released in 2015. But at this point I really don't want to comment too much on this new article while speculations are running far too high for comfort.

So instead, I'm reviewing this game since I'm pretty much done with it save for completing all the bonus stuff.

I'm a pretty big fan of the various LEGO games, so naturally this latest expansion still works for me. Regardless of what franchise is involved, the various LEGO games run on similar puzzle gaming principles, thus creating for a relatively consistent gaming experience across titles. This may or may not be a great thing depending on how much you enjoy what is essentially the same game over and over again.

And this geek definitely enjoys this type of gameplay. But more importantly, I felt this edition actually added a lot of interesting new features to update the overall LEGO play experience for the console market.

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is yet another LEGO adaptation of Star Wars media and this time around it's the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV series. I've played most of the other LEGO-themed games, so it's safe to say that I have a pretty good handle on the game series as a whole.

So this installment brings us to the colorful work established by the CGI-animated Clone Wars TV series. And since this is a LEGO game, it means you also get a lot of their quirky humor. Whether or not you have watched the cartoon or even if you have strong feelings for or against Anakin Skywalker's padawan learner Ahsoka Tano, they probably won't matter since you won't hear her talking anymore. Heck, no one has any dialog - this is a LEGO game after all!

In terms of story, the game follows three main arcs that are related to major plot points in the animated TV series. And these arcs are defined around the villains that you end up pursuing - Asajj Ventress, General Grievous and Count Dooku.

The game follows the same puzzle-style action that we've come to expect from the various LEGO games. Thus as you unlock more and more characters, you also discover the unique abilities that each one brings to the table, thus giving you more elements to use to get past various obstacles. And you have those stages that try to mix things up like using vehicles, which are mostly space-related battles as you command a small fighter amid a larger confrontation between opposing capital ships. But this time you don't just stay in the air - you also need to periodically land your ship and engage in more of the usual puzzle action before returning to your vessel to complete the remaining objectives.

You still get old abilities established in the previous LEGO Star Wars games like both Light Side and Dark Side Force powers, R2-D2's flight skills and Jar-Jar's jumping ability. But you also get new abilities mostly centered around the clone troopers like the need to alternate between explosive rounds (like a rocket launcher) or rapid-fire guns (like a chain gun) in order to destroy certain objects. And you also get a different track entirely for C3PO that has evolved from merely waving at a panel to solving a very basic 4-sequence pattern (similar to Hermione's spell puzzles in LEGO Harry Potter). And my favorite involve new special Jedi moves where they slash through doors or decapitate droid fighters in order to assume control of them instead.

One of the biggest additions to the game (which is a testament to the capabilities of the game engine) are the massive ground battles where you get to command an army as you try to conquer the opposing bases or achieve certain key objectives. The sprawls make for a nice change from the typical LEGO Star Wars action that feels a lot more strategic as you use the collected LEGO bits to purchase new units or upgrades for your bases.

Plus it's just so darned pretty to look at.

On the bonuses side, you're still collecting as many LEGO bits as possible to unlock more characters and more areas of the current hub of operations - which is the Republic Cruiser Resolute. You also need to collect the various minikits hidden in each stage in order to unlock characters from the classic movies. And lastly there are those Red Bricks that make the game a bit easier by unlocking score multipliers or special abilities like stronger speeders or better lightsaber parrying.

The game is still a lot of fun and the way they set up the hub makes for a LOT of exploring, which may or may not be your thing. Compared to many past LEGO games, I feel this one made the biggest leap forward in terms of really changing up the overall gameplay options and keeping things a lot more fresh. Thus I'm happy to rate LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars for the PS3 as an awesome 4 hidden cameos by other Lucas characters out of a possible 5.

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