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Gameplay

Sound
  Graphics

Value
Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.6


LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
December 23, 2011 | Steven Marx
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Click to enlarge

Big Ground Battle

Requirements:

Mac OS X: 10.6.8 |†CPU: Intel 1.4 GHz | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 7 GB Graphics:†128 MB | ATI X1xxx, NVIDIA 7xxx and Intel GMA series NOT Supported | Gamepad support built in & recommended

Introduction:

ďItís Lego, itís Star Wars.Ē This was my sonís response when I asked him why he liked Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. Because I knew when I was asked to review this title I would need his help, and Joel is in fact a contributor to this review as a player and a writer. With the success of the first two titles in the Lego Star Wars franchise it was perhaps inevitable that a new title would make its way to the desktop, and Lego Star Wars III takes the next logical step, occurring in the part of the saga told in the animated television series The Clone Wars. In taking on this challenge I knew my son would be invaluable not just for his arcade playing prowess (mostly on his Nintendo DS) but also for his knowledge of the series; my knowledge of the Clone Wars extends no farther than the movie of that name, and I try not to think about that if at all possible. So this is a joint review of a game where our participation was about equal as well.

So what does this new entry in the series provide? At its core this is an isometric arcade-style game involving battles, puzzles, exploration and fun all set within the universe of The Clone Wars TV series. And it provides a lot of all of these things. While I normally try and complete a game or at least come close before reviewing it, after eighteen hours of combined play we finally finished the episodes in story mode and have only completed one third of the game; and thereís a whole lot more than that to this game, as described below.

Gameplay:

There are many aspects to gameplay in this title, but for now Iíll focus on the two main ones: story mode and ship exploration. After an initial level taken from the movie, you are put aboard the Republic Star Destroyer Resolute where you can gather Lego studs and explore or select from a new mission to play. Each mission can be played in Story mode or Free Play, but you first have to complete it in Story mode, so this is where we spent most of our time. The stories are divided into three strands, apparently matching up with strands from the show. You can move between the strands as you please, advancing level by level, collecting studs and Gold Bricks, unlocking new characters and ships and basically following along the plot of the show.

Between levels you are taken back to the Resolute, where more areas become available to explore as you unlock new characters and collect enough Gold bricks to build structures that give you access to even more of the ship. As you explore the ship you collect more Lego studs which allow you to buy Red Bricks, discover areas with mini arcade games, and solve even more puzzles. If you wanted, you could spend much of your time just exploring the ship between each level, but I tried to limit our time doing this so we could get through the story.

And thatís not all. Thereís also an area where you can mix and match mini-figure parts to create your own characters with their own special abilities. And cooperative multiplayer. And Free Play mode for every level you complete, where you can play as different characters and more parts of the level become available to you. And if thatís not enough for you, you must be one of those people who are impossible to please.

While the different levels in story mode offer quite a bit of variety, there can also be a certain sameness to them after awhile. Not that levels are duplicated, but similar elements tend to get mixed and matched in different ways as new elements are also added. There are ground battle levels, battles within structures that also involve puzzles, space battles, and any of these types of battles might include elements of the others and, in later levels, bosses at the end.

The way gameplay is designed you can never fail at a level; you character might be destroyed but it keeps regenerating with a loss of some of the Lego studs and True Jedi status you've collected. The game also helps you while you're playing, providing helpful arrows showing you where you might need to pilot your starship and other indicators to help you solve puzzles or find hidden areas. While these aspects of gameplay make the game less frustrating for younger or less experienced players, more experienced or hardcore gamers might find that this makes the game too easy.

On the other hand, some of the levels in the game can get pretty long. I had some take 45 minutes to an hour to complete, and as usual in games like this there is no way to save your progress, you finish a level or you start over at the beginning next time. So make sure you have a block of time before you start, this isn't generally a game you jump into for a few minutes of fun.

Each level gives you its own set of characters to use, and in general any character you are given will need to be used at some point for the most efficient completion of the level, or often to be able to complete the level at all. In addition to different Jedi characters, you will have access to a variety of Clone troopers and droids, planet natives, spaceships and, wait for it Ö even Jar Jar Binks (and yes, there are times you HAVE to use him to complete a level).

After you complete a level you earn a Gold Brick, if you do a good enough job you achieve True Jedi status which gives you another Gold Brick, and you are given credit for the Lego studs you picked up. You can use these to buy the Red Bricks you will find spread around your ship. And thatís what youíll often find yourself doing after a level, exploring your ship to try and figure out what new part has become accessible to you, or what you can build now, or what you can afford. You can switch characters as you explore the ship, and some characters, such as droids or shorter characters, are required to activate access panels or reach low entryways.

You still want more? Well you can take your ship to different star systems which will involve you in different arcade battles when you reach those parts of the ship. And again, there is also Free Play mode available after you complete each level. All this should keep you busy for far too many hours when you should be doing something else.

Joelís Take: Thereís an upside and downside to this game. The upside is thereís a lot of gameplay to this game; the downside is, thereís a lot of gameplay. The levels take really long and you have to go through several sequences within each level. There are some where you have to destroy stuff thatís surrounded by a force field; when you do that it becomes blue and you can use it. Then after you destroy all the red things, you usually have to go inside someplace or they add more enemies.

OK, we do have one gripe about gameplay. It takes 5 clicks of the button to start a game and six, count 'em six, clicks to get out of the game. You know, once I've told you three times I really want to quit, do you have to ask me three more times? It gets pretty annoying. But that, and some really long levels, are about the only gameplay complaints we have.



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