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LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars - Wii Review

Game Info
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Wii | LucasArts / Traveller's Tales | 1 Player / 2 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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Review
22nd July 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

While my direct exposure with it has been practically non-existent, I've always admired the LEGO series of games. And yet, there was something about these games that made me think they weren't for me. Still, I was happy over getting to try out
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars for the Wii. Coming from the standpoint of a first-time player, I was surprised just how much fun I had with this game. So much so, in fact, that I have little trouble recommending it.

    The game follows a lengthy story consisting of various intertwining chapters that will have you traveling to all sorts of outer space locations as part of an epic battle against two warring forces. Story cutscenes are preceded by walls of upwards-scrolling text, as per the Star Wars standard. The plot is told through chatter-free cutscenes where character behaviours and expressions are used to tell a story. These appear at the beginning of each chapter and within the actual missions using somewhat-seamless integration. Much to its strength, light humor is used on multiple occasions to keep the storytelling lively and enjoyable without the need for words. Even if you've never watched the animated series this game is based on, the episodic sequences are relatively easy to follow and fun to watch.

    You play using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, where the Analog Stick controls your active character. The A Button is used to perform single and double jumps, while the B Button and shakes of the Wii Remote involve the use of your light saber. While in mid-air, you can press B to perform a pile driver, or hold the button while on the ground to aim your weapon towards a target off into the distance and throw it like a boomerang. Icons of the C and Z Buttons appear as you get close to interactive elements like switches, grapple hooks or movable turrets. The two buttons are also used for additional actions like using the Force or switching between characters, but at times, the presence of multiple action triggers interferes with what you'd actually like to switch to.

    
As for the flow of the game, prior to heading to missions you'll arrive at an open hub on an expansive spaceship. Completing missions will earn you Gold Bricks which can unlock additional content, including new areas for exploration like the ship's Hangar. There are 130 in all to collect, meaning you’ll be busy for many, many hours. From the main control area, you can select new systems to travel to and activate a hyperdrive animation that unfolds at the front of the ship. Accessing the Mission Select menu will present you with a galaxy full of planets and various story arcs, starring different protagonists and villains. Over the course of the story, you'll meet new folks and build alliances, revealing further pathways. In both cases -- exploring the hub and accessing new environments -- there is quite a bit of fun to be experienced, in part because the game does not manifest a strict linear progression.


    There's a nice sense of variety in the mission structure. Some of them will have you saving homelands from tyrannical enemies, assisting in warding off incoming predators, aiding in rescue missions, and engaging in medium-action chase scenes. It is to be admitted, though, that after spending a considerable amount of time with the game, the different missions start to feel less and less fresh. Thankfully, this doesn’t make the game a bore to play, and if you can put up with that, then you should be fairly pleased with the different goals the game has you aiming towards.

    
In the various levels you visit, you'll always find small LEGO pieces called 'studs'. These not only go towards unlocking new content after a mission has been completed, but even mid-way through some missions, you'll need to use them to activate key elements in the environment. Additionally, studs will go towards your True Jedi rating at the end of each level. There is an outline on the overhead display that shows just how close you are to completing that secondary objective. Often times, you won't collect enough of these pieces on your first go-round, so this adds some replayability.


    So beyond that, what other elements can one hope to find in each level? Well first of all, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars features an abundance of selectable characters. From Commanders who can control Clone units, to intergalactic fighters who wield their own unique weapons (like whips), it certainly is great to see teams come together over the course of an entire episode. Seeing your teammates follow you on the field is one thing, but having them actually provide help when needed is another. Sad to say, many times the AI is utterly useless when you really need them. Even if the game is ideally best when played in a co-operative setting, this does not mean solo players must be forced to watch as their so-called "teammates" serve merely as tag-alongs who don't really get involved when the going gets tough.

    Countless times over the course of the game, you'll randomly find small LEGO pieces in a pile acting almost like jumping beans with a light blue-ish hue around them. You can use the Force on these pieces to build a creation of some kind or get a machine working so you can get past a blockade. Other times, you'll come across a light circular carving in a wall where you can stick in your light saber and create a hole to pass through. You'll notice that in both these scenarios, it's pretty clear what you need to do next even if you happen to stumble upon these elements at what seems like a dead end. However, one of my pet peeves with this game was the fact that it wasn't always clear what you had to do next.

    
Often times, I would find myself scouring an area again and again for minutes, looking for some kind of clue that would lead to an opening whereby I could continue making progress. What ends up happening is you'll switch between the different characters in your party to see if any button icons pop up as you continue walking around. Either that, or you'll press the Z Button in random areas to see if the Force will start manipulating something you overlooked. I know the game prides itself on exploration, but in this case, what's left unsaid often just leads to slight bouts of frustration instead of encouraging movement. I wasn't happy about the ambiguity demonstrated here.


    Going back to the mission structure again, there are three main highlights I took away from the game in the way level objectives were presented. Take, for example, the aerial missions. Here, you use small ships to travel to landing pads located on large floating flagships. There was a lot of exploration involved in these areas, and even if the action wasn't totally exciting, it was still great fun to get off the ground and take to the stars with a different goal in mind. I did have an issue with the awkward controls though. Then there were the vehicle-focused missions where you'd speed around an open battlefield on stylish BARD Speeders or other grounded forms of transportation. These were always a blast to use, albeit not very smooth.

    I especially loved the missions that were fashioned almost like a tower defense game. In these levels, you get to command a series of large bases where you continuously pump out Clone troops and enlist the help of other, more powerful units. These include rotating cannons, slow-moving walkers, laser-equipped tanks, and satellites that can be used to call for air support or backup. In all cases, studs are required to develop your base as each type of unit also has additional upgrades that can be purchased. Everything is colour-coded, so if you see a silver-encrested command tower you’ll know the only way to knock it down is if you have units that match or are superior to that skin. And it's such a great feeling to control these vehicles, too, to the point that you actually look forward to these specific missions and even though some of these robots do appear in other mission types, it is in these levels in particular where they are most fun to use.

    There
are additional events to be seen throughout the game as well, but these are more story-driven instead of them being traditional elements to the gameplay. Like getting involved in a boss battle with a giant robot, then falling from a balcony and continuing the fight on the way down. That was pretty awesome. In another example, two scenes will be going on at once, with one group infiltrating a compound while the other clearing the way on the outside, and you need to hold the C Button to switch between the two. The integration here (and other areas) is great, especially when things come together. One of the few exceptions is when you get involved in a brief QTE mid-level. These moments feature active animations, but they’re still not that fun to take part in.


    On the subject of presentation, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars isn't bad at all. The LEGO aesthetic is well-explored even to the smaller details as shown when characters pull out miniature cameras and walkie-talkies. The visuals look good, and the music is usually fine even if it doesn't impact you much. But there are framerate dips that take place when there's a lot of action on-screen. Also, when playing co-op missions and there's a big separation in distance between two players, an active split-screen appears. It felt different for sure, but the rotating effects applied to this may well leave you feeling dizzy.

    
Content-wise, playing in a co-operative setting is really what this game is all about, and if you get into this game with this purpose in mind, you're bound to have a great time. But even as a single-player experience, it's very strong. Once again, the lack of useful AI does bring things down, but there's still a lot of fun to be had. In addition to the numerous story arcs and missions you'll complete, there are also secret bricks and other collectibles that can be sought out in different areas of each level. Really, it's not hard to see that you're really getting your money's worth when you buy this game.


    If you're a parent who is on the lookout for good games for you and your child, or if you're just looking for an enjoyable adventure title to play with your close friend or relative, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a great choice! And perhaps best of all, you don't even have to be a fan of the series to enjoy this game. There are some flaws that hold the game back, but these aren't substantial enough to sway you from adding this game to your collection.


24/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Varied mission structure, command units and vehicles, awkward controls during flight missions, useless AI for solo play, good controls
Presentation 7/10 - Looks good visually, audio serves its purpose, lag during gameplay at times, well-integrated cutscenes, all-encompassing LEGO aesthetic
Enjoyment 4/5 - Action is very engaging, fun story-driven events, missions feel less and less fresh as time goes on, vehicles are a blast to use
Extra Content 5/5 - A vast galaxy to explore, tons of missions and extras, best played in a co-op setting, still great to play on your own, very replayable

Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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