Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars Review (3DS)
There have been a number of different franchises now that have benefited from the marriage of Lego and Traveler’s Tales. Batman, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter all fit with the formula very well, but none of those would have been possible without the release of Lego Star Wars. Each of the six main entries in the movie franchise got the Lego treatment so it only seems right that the newest episodes of the saga also get their turn in the sun. That’s exactly what’s happening with Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. Is the Force with this new release or has it turned to the dark side?
What You Need To Know
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars follows Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, along with Anakin’s new Padawan Ahsoka as they battle the forces of the Separatists during the period of time known as the Clone Wars. They’ll team up with a number of different Jedi and dozens of clones in a platforming puzzle adventure that follows the same formula as the other games in the franchise. You’ll use the Force to build parts of the environment that you’ll then destroy a mere second later. You’ll destroy hundreds of Lego droids and unlock dozens of new characters, many of which will be familiar to Star Wars veterans.
The one thing that hasn’t changed since the first release of Lego Star Wars back in 2005 is the gameplay formula. You’re still taking a team of between two and five characters around environments and stories based on a popular entertainment franchise. In this case you’ll be following the events of Season One of the Clone Wars television show, and two small episodes from Season 2. It will take teamwork to complete every level of the game and each character has their strengths that only they can perform so you’ll have to use everyone at your disposal to complete each level. Switching between characters is made simple by scrolling through the available characters with the L & R buttons.
There is a good mix of on foot missions and vehicle based missions to play through. I’ve never been a big fan of the vehicle missions in the franchise, but these are some of the better ones and I didn’t hate playing through them. The developers have also done something new with this game and have you see-sawing back and forth between different groups of characters to complete mission. So one group of characters will be doing something that will directly affect the actions of another group of characters and you’ll get to see those instances as you play through different parts of the game. Many times those two separate groups of characters will meet up and you’ll have one large group at your disposal.
This is the eighth game in the franchise and it could have been very easy for this formula to become stale, but Traveler’s Tales always does a great job of adding just enough new stuff to make the experience unique. Lego Star Wars III is no exception.
Excellent Use of the 3DS Features
Being a launch game for the 3DS people are going to want to know how it uses the features of the new system and I can report it does a very good job. The 3D effect is used to add depth to the environments. There’s not much going on, but what is here does a great job of making it feel like you’re in a sprawling world instead of a cross section of what’s there. Parts of the environment feel like they’re popping out and obscuring your vision in realistic ways while laser bolts blast around you making it feel like you’re the one being shot at. There was one moment in particular very early in the game that really brought home the fact I was playing on a three dimensional system and gave me the feeling that this new handheld was really going to work. I was playing through Ambush (the first mission in the game) and a droid flew in from what would have been behind me and I jumped because I wasn’t expecting it and I really felt like I was part of the world. It was a very small thing, but really immersed me in the experience.
In addition to the 3D environments other features of the system are used. One is StreetPass that will transmit some data to users you happen to pass by. I never got any StreetPass hits while playing so I can’t tell you exactly what it does.
The other is Play Coins. Make sure you keep your 3DS with you and earn play coins because you’ll need between 25 and 40 to unlock all of the characters in the game. Some of the more popular characters, like Original Trilogy Boba Fett, Starkiller, or even a battle damaged version of Darth Vader can only be unlocked by using Play Coins. It’s another one of those small features that doesn’t add a whole lot to the experience, but really makes a good use of all of the features of the system in a good way.
The Hub Feels Small Again
One of the things that really brought the world of Lego Harry Potter to life was exploring the world of Hogwarts and accidentally moving the story along in the process. It was almost as much fun to wander around discovering things as it was actually progressing in the game. You never once felt like you were in the game’s main hub because everything was integrated into the world so well. Lego Stars Wars III for the 3DS seems to take a step back in that regard. The hub of the world is the Republic Cruiser Resolute, but unlike its console brethren you’re going to feel like you’re stuck in a small part of this huge space ship. There’s good reason for that, because you are. The only places to explore are the main bridge of the ship where you’ll access new missions using a holo projector and there are three other very small rooms where you’ll access the shop, character creator and mini-kit viewer. There’s no exploration at all. No nooks and crannies to dig into and find new things. It all feels very isolated and cold.
The Game Ends Abruptly
Since this game was announced we were told we would be getting to play through stories from Seasons 1 and 2 of the popular Cartoon Network television show. While that’s technically accurate the game ends very soon after the events of Season 1. All you get from Season 2 is two episodes about a third of the way into the season and they aren’t even the best episodes. The Bounty Hunter story that started Season 2 is skipped over in favor of the first part of the zombie trilogy. While those episodes were good it neglects one of the greatest Star Wars villains to come along in some time, Cad Bane. He’s in the game as an unlockable character, but it’s disappointing that you never got to face off against him. So instead what you get is a majority of Season 1 and not much else. The game does last more than eight hours on your initial play through so it’s not short, by any means, but I was expecting so much more when I ran into the credits halfway through a story arc.
One of the biggest hallmarks of the franchise has been the ability to get together with a friend or family member and play through these games together. It’s a great way for parents to introduce their children to some of their favorite movie or television franchises and it’s a bit sad to see that Lego Stars Wars III is a single player only experience. There is no single cart or multi-cart play of any kind. What is here is a really good single player experience, but it would have been nice to take the journey with a friend. You’ll have to pick up one of the home console versions if you want a co-op experience.
While there are some very sad omissions from this game that would have made it better you still have a very great single player experience. The formula still works and still provides hours of fun, especially for people who like to find everything that the game has to offer. I can see people spending 15-20 hours trying to collect everything. The franchise’s trademark humor is still in tact and they do a great job telling the story without saying a word. It’s definitely one of the better launch games for the 3DS and fans of Stars Wars or the Lego games would be very happy with this portable version of the game. If you want a co-op experience you’re going to have to be tethered to your TV, but this is the perfect way to take Lego Stars Wars with you wherever you go.
Final Score: 4/5 Above Average
Review copy of the game purchased at Gamestop.
Played through the entire single player campaign with 53% completion.
Total Play Time: 9 hours