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LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars - 3DS Review

Game Info
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

3DS | LucasArts / Traveller's Tales
 | 1 Player | StreetPass Support | Play Coin Support | Out Now
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22nd July 2011; By Patrick

The LEGO games by Traveller’s Tales have always been a universal pleasure, so to speak. While they are clearly designed to be able to be completed by children, they are also designed so that experienced gamers can enjoy them as well, with a significant amount of depth. One of the more recent entries to the series definitely continues this trend, however how does the handheld version created for the 3DS launch hold up?

    The first thing you need to know about the 3DS version of LEGO Star Wars III is that it is a port of the DS version. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in every aspect, however. They managed to smooth out movement with the Circle Pad, resulting in one of the most fluid uses of it in any of the launch titles. The game is completely controlled with the 3DS’ buttons, but some mini-games require the use of the stylus, which is a pain to quickly remove from the system.

    As for the 3D, it’s applied very well in cutscenes, which look very polished and made for 3D, while in-game it’s another story. The game takes a sort of 15º angle viewpoint on the characters that’s almost a bird’s-eye view - so instead of it helping you judge distances from jumps and other platforming, it makes your characters look further away, sometimes making it harder to platform. Another issue I had with the 3D was that whenever the camera would shake due to an explosion, looking at it in 2D was fine, but with the 3D on it not only hurt my eyes, it also gave me a headache -- the only thing as of yet on the 3DS to be able to do either of those things.

Now, the level selection and system is also a slight disappointment. This game spans the first two seasons of The Clone Wars, and yet many plot elements and episodes present in its console counterparts were skipped over. There are 13 levels in all, each representing one episode of the show. Each level is split up into three stages, and when completing a level for the first time, you must complete all three. This can take up to 45 minutes on the later levels if you are attempting to collect everything you can (how the game is
meant to be played), making this title only as portable as you let it be. However, if you consider that the 13 long levels are effectively different on Free Play when you can use extra characters, the game is of a considerable length and depth for a launch title.

    There are two variations on normal gameplay that are attempted within the game, and neither are remotely fun. Occasionally in some of the levels, one of the three stages will have you controlling an aircraft/spaceship and completing missions. These are repetitive, dull, predictable, and most importantly, boring. Do I really need to “Destroy the ships!”, then “Hit the targets!”, then “Destroy the ships!” again and again? While it may be better on the console counterparts, these are a pain to work through on the 3DS version, which is not at all a good thing considering it’s on a portable device. The other variation is the 4 mini-games, which seem like they were made within 24 hours each, or by a child. One example is a “Droid Volleyball” game where you play as an R2 unit, literally moving left and right and jumping to hit a momentum-less Volleyball over a net so the AI can struggle to do the exact same thing back to you. These mini-games are also completely in 2D, to further reflect the amount of effort placed on them.

There is a large range of characters you can use in several different categories, with each class being able to get into areas others cannot. For example, Dark Jedi can use the Force on some areas that Jedi cannot, sharpshooters can hit targets while Heavy Troopers can detonate bombs. Sadly, not all of these characters are balanced. Some characters like the Asajj Ventress are extremely overpowered (Dark Jedi with two Lightsabers and is very mobile), while the bulk of the other characters are (no pun intended)
clones of each other. While this can be frustrating at times, I believe that Traveller’s Tales did the best they could with the license given to them. 

    While in Story Mode you are at the mercy of the limits of the assigned characters, in Free Play, you can pick one character to bring in, and the game will add in a handful of other characters (one of each class different to the one you chose, if possible) so you can explore the full level. Not only is the cast of characters from the show well represented in terms of playability, but there are also some more basic characters from the films you can play as, such as Darth Vader. 

Most extra characters must be purchased with the in-game currency, 'studs'. Ways to obtain studs include running around levels, playing mini-games, and using StreetPass (50,000 per hit). You can also use these to purchase Extras (made available by collecting the hidden Red Brick in each stage) which modify your playing experience. It could be as small as changing the jumping sound effect to that of a trampoline, or multiplying your stud intake by 10x. A handful of other "fan-favourite" characters such as Grand Moff Tarkin, Starkiller (Vader’s Apprentice from the Force Unleashed games), and Wounded Darth Vader must be purchased with your 3DS Play Coins.

    The game is fairly lengthy and deep, focusing on player interaction and customization. It took me approximately 38 full hours to complete it 100%, and is recommended to anyone looking for a fun experience that can overlook a few flaws. With that said however, keep in mind that your first playthrough will probably be at home where you have more time to get through the long Story Mode stages.

18/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - 3D can make platforming harder, long stretches take away portability, some characters overpowered, fun to explore world
Presentation 7/10 - 3D an afterthought on main gameplay, cutscenes look nice, LEGO stylings always welcome
Enjoyment 3/5 - Hardly portable but fun nevertheless, boring flight missions, much to do for a launch title
Extra Content 2/5 - Large character roster, many story points and worlds ignored, mini-games are only good for a quick laugh

Equivalent to a score of 60% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by Patrick
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LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (3DS)
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