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I will be the first to admit that there has been far too many Lego games in recent years and everyone of the major film franchises now seems to have had the Lego treatment. The games though have been very very similar and its usually a case of "played one, played them all". I was getting slowly bored of them and had the one released last year not been based on Star Wars there is no way I would have bought it. But being a Star Wars Geek and being quite fond of the series I decided to give it a try. And it proved to be a good decision as Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars is nothing short of being a fun game.
If you have never played a Lego based game before its best to describe Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars as an action platformer with puzzle elements and superb multiplayer. You play as characters from the Clone Wars TV series and the action is set all around them although you will recognise characters, locations and sounds from the films. Its all officially licensed etc so it feels like playing in a Star Wars film.
This is the PS3 version I am reviewing and graphically it looks great and Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars is the best looking of all the versions of Lego games. It shines with colour, movement and activity with no slowdown and runs superbly.
Control wise you cant complain. So easy to learn that anyone can jump in and out of the co-op. Very responsive, no wrestling with the control at jumps and feels natural. Always the sign of a game that's been well made with care and effort. Children, casual gamers and elderly gamers alike will be able to manage with good button mapping.
The game as always involves action with weapons, collecting lego bricks, plat forming elements and puzzles galore and there is a lot of variety built within each level of Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars which means you never get bored. One major criticism I have of this game though is the fact that as with all Lego games, even on hard, Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars presents little challenge and you will walk through levels without dying or raising a sweat. You will be having too much fun to notice possibly especially playing in co-op but the game is a stroll and anyone looking for a challenge best look elsewhere. Although Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars has replay value in the collection of items etc there is little point going back to do it on harder settings as it gives little satisfaction.
The game is quite linear and Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars does suffer for this as you feel restricted but then that is the very nature of Lego games. It does reduce the replay ability value though as you have seen everything first time through.
Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars comes into its own in co-op and this has always been the mainstay of the games. Play with friends or online and the fun explodes with laughs every minute, specifically designed levels for co-op and battles for scores. Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars is one of the best co-op games I have played and out of the 40 hours or so I have put into this 90% at least has been in co-op. Once you have played Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars in co-op you won't want to come back to single player mode!
Overall though you have to say that Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars is a fun multiplayer gem
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Traveller's Tales' Lego titles have earned a well deserved reputation among gamers for being original, well designed and family friendly. Combining action/adventure with puzzle solving gameplay, the series has been a model example of excellent game design for both children and adults. Starting with Lego Star Wars: The Video Game in 2005, the series has introduced its unique brand of parody to franchises as wide ranging as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, Harry Potter and later this year, Pirates of the Caribbean. This title sees Traveller's Tales return to the particular fusion of Lego and Star Wars that has made the series a success. Released across a range of platforms, it is a launch title for Nintendo's new 3DS console and so carries the burden a helping to sell the concept in its early days.
- - - The Game - - -
For those new to the series, the gameplay is simple yet unique. The player controls Lego versions of their favourite characters through a series a levels based on famous sections of the licensed property.Where Lego Star Wars and its sequel explored the films, retelling the story with some very funny cutscenes and intricate level design, this game follows the recently made Clone Wars TV series. I should say right away that I am not overly familiar with this series and so had quite limited success following the plot. This doesn't matter too much to enjoying the game but you'll get more of a kick out of the little cutscenes if you're more familiar with its basis.
To be fair, adapting a series called The Clone Wars seems quite appropriate. All the Lego men I had as a kid had that same creepy smiley face so I've generally associated them with clones anyway. How else did those new ones with identical faces but different costumes turn up in the box? There certainly didn't seem to be any female ones.
Each level essentially involves getting from the beginning to the end overcome obstacles such as battle droids, solving puzzles, fighting the occasional giant monster or overcoming an evil Jedi. Along the way you'll get to fire blasters and swish lightsabres into building, crates and various other bits of Star Warsy paraphernalia, all lovingly contstructed out of Lego. Smashing up the world around you will provide you with valuable Lego resources to spend on unlockables or reveal new Lego bricks to build into something useful.
The difficulty is balanced a little too easily, falling victim to the now common fallacy that children will only play games that are easy, but it is possible to get involved with it. The game is certainly never boring. Also scattered through the levels are minikits and red bricks, these are hidden in a lot of different ways and often you'll need to play through a level many times to find them all. Different kinds of characters have different skills and after playing through a level once you'll be allowed to play in "Free Play" mode, selecting from any characters you've unlocked. This will allow you to explore whole new areas of levels you couldn't see the first time and find more secrets. There's a real philosophy of replaying in the game, encouraging you to go back and try and find every little thing before moving on.
I was very impressed with the game controls, the circle pad providing perfect analogue control that makes platforming sections much nicer than with the DS' awkward D-Pad. The only niggle for me was that every so often the game would throw out a mandatory touch screen control. When the majority of the game is played without the touch screen, I put the stylus away, and I think lots of other people do to. It's unpleasant and jarring at best.
- - - Visuals - - -
The graphics also impress very easily. We've yet to see the 3DS really taken advantage of in terms of graphics but here we see a few glimmers of things to come. While the scenery is nothing to gawp at, the character models look absolutely wonderful. Worlds apart from Lego characters on previous DS games, they would fit in very well with the Wii. I was also very impressed to see the quality of textures and lighting throughout. Jedi characters carrying lightsabres will often light up the walls around them with a strong glow. Fancy stuff.
- - - Mini Games - - -
This version of Lego Star Wars III features four minigames. The first of these is a simple 2D, side on game called Astromech Volleyball. Bounce a ball across the net using the touch screen. It's boring, fiddly and ugly. The next, far more fun game, is a snowball fighting game in which you control a character who collects snowballs and then throws them at Wampas. Very good fun. The other two games are merely arcade versions of the game's vehicle levels. While none of these little games are worth shelling out for the whole game on its own, they're neat little extras for a while.
- - - DS Port - - -
Players more familiar with the series on home consoles might be a little disappointed. Games that see a release across such a wide variety of platforms tend to be produced by multiple development teams. The first team makes the main game for the major consoles, PS3 and the Xbox 360. The second team has the job of taking this flagship game and making it run on more limited hardware like the Wii. The goal is to create the same overall experience, just as fun but without the raw power requirements. The last team is the "mobile" team, creating ports for consoles with severely restricted hardware such as mobile phones, older iPhones and the DS. Here they take the same sort of design brief but cut down where they must and play with some of the more quirky features of these devices. This release has been given to the wrong team.
The 3DS is being touted a similar in power to Nintendo's Gamecube console, that places it at a little below a Wii but higher than a PS2. Presuming this assessment is even close to accurate, this title should really be a port of the Wii version, developed by the same team Traveller's Tales has used for Wii, PS2 and sometimes PSP ports of their games. Unfortunately it has been developed by the DS development team instead. It's not hard to see how this has happened, the chances are that development was begun before any real information about the 3DS' capabilities was really known. Also, the 3DS does feature the same touch screen interface as the DS and so it might seem natural to work with the same basis. The result is that the 3DS version feels unnecessarily gimped. Unlike the DS version which is restricted to cover the console's weakness, using touchscreen gimmicks to play to its strengths; the 3DS does not share these shortcomings and really should be receiving a port more reflective of the console version of this game.
This goes beyond superficial niceties like graphics, the very game is edited down in some quite dramatic ways. On consoles Lego Star Wars III features what it calls "ground battles," conflicts involving massive armies. These levels are completely cut out of the 3DS version despite the console's capabilities. The vehicles levels have also been simplified and two-player co-op, a staple in the series, has been totally removed. It also features substantially less unlockables and secrets, as a whole the experience feels smaller.
I don't want to sound too negative on the game. It's a great experience playing Lego Star Wars on a handheld. It plays well, it feels and looks a lot better than Lego Star Wars titles on the original DS ever did. For what it is, Lego Star Wars III is very well made. The problem is that it should never have been developed with approach in mind.
- - - 3DS Specific Features - - -
I was surprised to find that Lego Star Wars makes some use of the expanded features of the 3DS, if only in basic ways. Still, it beats most of Ubisoft's launch titles which didn't even try.
Firstly, the 3D effect. It is subtle on this title. As it's a multiplatform release, it follows the design of the DS and PSP versions and so little time has gone into making scenes that look marvelous in the 3D, however it is used competently. With the 3D slider on low, you will often find that you can barely notice the effect, however it doesn't kill the eyes to push the slider up and bit and it does make it a bit easier to jump from platform to platform. Worth noting however is that the framerate can be a little wobbly, it's never unplayable but turning the 3D effect off makes the framerate both higher and solid as a rock.
Traveller's Tales have also taken the time to render all the cutscenes in 3D, a nice touch.
A very simple implementation of Streetpass is included, when passing another 3DS owner with your 3DS they will swap data. If the two 3DS' consoles have Lego Star Wars StreetPass data they will swap it and the next time you load up the game you'll be greeted by a nice bundle of studs, the in-game currency. Fun the first few times but ultimately a pointless inclusion.
More exciting is the use of Gamecoins the unlock characters. Your 3DS will be collecting Gamecoins every time you pop it in your pocket and go walking, you can then use these to grab a few super secret characters that you'll need for 100% inclusion. Not the most original inclusion but it's nice to see the game really try and use the console's features.
- - - In Summary - - -
Lego Star Wars III starts off with one big mistake. It ports a DS game to a handheld console with hardware capabilities very close to a major home console. And it's a big mistake. The DS' Lego games are not half measures because they represent the limit of the console's capabilities. The restrictions on these versions of the game are not present because gamers prefer less in their handheld games or because those never ending touchscreen minigames are such great fun, they are the way they are because the DS can not handle anything else. The 3DS should not have received such a port.
However, the give Traveller's Tales the credit they deserve, they have gone on to do the best job possible with a misguided foundation. The game plays well, the controls are perfect for the job at hand and the graphics look great on the character models. It's a fun game and it's an authentic Lego Star Wars experience, if not the one we should have had. It's a worthwhile purchase but it's better to go into it knowing what you're buying and what you aren't
This is the first game i have ever played in the Lego series of games. This game is one of the best launch titles available for the 3DS and is simple enough that anyone can get into it. Lego Star Wars III has fun game play, a decent story, a decent amount of play time, and a large number of unlockables. The graphics are enjoyable and the soundtrack and sound effects feel true to the movies and CGI series.
As I have said this is my first Lego series game, but from what I have heard the game play is similar to previous Lego Star Wars games. The player chooses a mission to carry out, which is divided into 3 acts, and either starts out in ground based game play or in space based game play. Not every mission includes a space game play, but always has ground based game play. Players get four hearts or hit points and each hit takes one away. There isn't a set amount of lives, but when the player dies they lose 1000 studs(in-game currency) so its not without consequences.
- Ground based game play involves the player exploring and defeating enemies in their path in order to reach the end of the mission and sometimes be met by a boss. While exploring the player is able to swap between available characters. Each character falls under one or more categories such as being a Jedi, Sith, droid, separatist, heavy trooper, scout trooper, being small, and more. Each of these categories that a character falls into lends them one or more special abilities like double jumping, hovering, throwing grenades, activating certain panels, ect. Sometimes one of these abilities must be used in order to find a switch or blow up an object to reveal a path in order to progress the story.
-Space based game play throws the player into one of several spacecraft like a Y-wing. The player is then given an objective and must fly through space and shoot lasers and missiles to complete the series of objectives. While players fly around they will be confronted by enemies that will blast them with lasers or missiles that the player must evade using quick movements and sharp turns.
I honestly didn't pay much attention to the story, but it follows the CGI clone wars series. The little amount that I read and payed attention to was decent, but I never liked the CGI clone wars series to begin with which is why I didn't pay much attention. Fans of the series will probably enjoy the story and people who aren't can essentially ignore it and still have a blast.
_-Playtime and Replay value-_
I have finished the entire campaign of the game, but I'm still less than half way to finding and unlocking everything the game has to offer. I personally completed the game in about 10 hours and have unlocked 45% of the game in around 14 hours. So i expect to get at least another 10 hours of playtime to unlock the rest of the characters and extras. After completing a mission the player may choose an act and play in free play mode. In free play mode the player is able to pick a character they have unlocked and play through the act in order to gain more stud, find more mini kits, or obtain the red brick. Besides the character the player chooses 7 more characters are randomly chosen by the game.
Lego Star Wars 3 has a huge number of unlockables the majority of which are characters, but there are also extras and additional spacecraft to unlock.
-Characters can be unlocked in three different ways. The first way is through completing story missions which also unlocks certain characters to be bought with studs which is the second way to unlock characters. The third way is to unlock them using the play coins gained from the 3DS's pedometer function. There are 83 characters to unlock ranging from Grievous to Darth Maul to an Ewok.
-The unlockable extras include mini-games, score modifiers, and things like infinite missiles. These extras aren't available until the red brick from the corresponding mission is found. These extras get quite expensive ranging from 50,000 studs to 2,500,000 studs and possibly more.
-There's thirteen unlockable spacecraft, one or each mission. In order to unlock a spacecraft the player must gather all 10 mini kits in a mission. I have only unlocked one spacecraft so far which is a mini snowspeeder. The unlockable spacecraft are purely aesthetic.
Being on the 3DS this game has the ability to deliver 3D visuals. These 3D visuals aren't anything extremely breathtaking, but they do add depth to the game and make it slightly easier to judge jumps. When the 3D is turned on the graphic quality does lower a little, but not enough to notice without looking for it. In 2D the frame rate seems marginally faster, again nothing too noticeable. Anti-aliasing is an issue, but Nintendo games have never really been known for top of the line graphics anyways so this isn't a huge surprise. The character models are Lego versions of the characters in the CGI series and are well made to look like their CGI series counter parts.
The soundtrack in this game is very consistent with the movies. Every song that I heard was easily recognizable and I don't believe there are any original scores specifically for this game. The sound effects seem to follow the same pattern as the music. The light sabers, lasers, and spacecraft sound exactly like they came from the movies.
There are only a few minor flaws I have seen with this game. For one there is no multiplayer mode of any sort which isn't a big issue but would allow for more replay value with friends. The other flaw i came across was the lack of a difficulty setting. The original difficulty of the game is great for casual gamers and the first play through, but for further play throughs or free play it would be nice to have a difficulty setting to raise the stakes.
Overall I love every aspect of this game. Fun game play with tons of unlockables allowing for tons of replay value to unlock favorite characters or spacecraft. Being simple allows even casual gamers to dive into this game and love it. Other than the lack of multiplayer and difficulty settings this game is completely worth buying or at the very least borrowing from a friend.
If anyone has any questions or would like additional information about something i didn't cover leave me a comment and I will update this review with the new information.