Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

You guys like Star Wars right? You don’t anymore? Oh. Well, you at least like The Clone Wars, that CGI cartoon series that’s just concluded its third season, correct? Still no? What about Lego games? Oh. How about great, fun games with lots of content, packed with genuinely funny humour, surprisingly cunning puzzles, action/strategy battles, and lightsabers? Aha, now we’re talking!

And I thought they smelled bad on the outside.

The Lego series of games have all kept to a similar formula since the very first Lego Star Wars appeared on the scene and surprised everyone by being great and selling well, creating further proof that LucasArts really don’t have a clue since it was the first Star Wars game since the ´80s that they had nothing to do with. That formula is a large hub to explore, levels with lots of secrets to find the second time round, no death, simple puzzles, two-player co-operative, and lots of Lego tokens.

Recent Lego games, like Lego Indy 2 and Harry Potter, have tried to mix the rather stale formula up a bit to great success, but Lego Star Wars III goes right back to tradition. So it’s stale right? Not a bit. We may be back to the world of hidden Minikits, Freeplay and Red Bricks, but Traveller’s Tales know by now how to make these things feel fresh.

Of course they are slightly fighting an uphill battle here. Batman? Great. Indiana Jones? Great. Pirates of the Caribbean? Great. Star Wars? Great. Clone Wars? Um, good, but no one will admit that, and it certainly doesn’t have the pull of a film franchise.

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Obi-Wan plays some ping-pong, jedi style!

The kids love this one.

You may think that our late review of this game was because of Mojo’s customary lateness with reviews, but you’d only be half-right. Truth is I was determined not to start the review until I was certain that there wasn’t anything more to discover. I’ve been at the game for weeks.

Seriously, for a game in which people (falsely) believe that there isn’t any challenge, it sure lasts a long time. It took me a good six hours or more to just finish the straight story mode, which doesn’t take into account co-op, freeplay, all the various hidden unlockables, multiplayer, and everything there is to discover in the hub world. Just when I thought the game couldn’t get any bigger I discovered you could get in a ship, fly out in space and then land on an enemy cruiser, which immediately doubled the size of the game. I was stunned.

What’s even more impressive is the scope and the variety of the missions. You’ll have to repeat play styles (platforming, space battle etc) but what you have to do in them changes all the time. You will absolutely never be bored in this game. Lightsaber combat, puzzles, flying around a enemy ship and then landing on it at will to continue the fight inside, strategic land battles, every mission in Lego Star Wars III feels fresh and new.

Prepare for ground assault.

Wait, strategic land battles? Yes, a brand new mode featuring proper Brutal Legend-style action strategy, introduced just as surprisingly but far less annoyingly. In these mini-RTS stages as usual you control a small party of Star Wars characters, usually at least one Jedi and one Clone Trooper who can order other troopers around.

What’s impressive is the scope and the variety of the missions...

You can build bases with a variety of buildings, like Barracks, Cannons, Shield Generators, and vehicle drop-off points, all paid for with Lego studs gathered on the battlefield. Tactics and strategy come into play with Silver and Gold structures, which can only be blown up or melted with rapid-fire weapons respectively. It’s all easy to use and get your head round, but it’s surprisingly challenging and immensely fun.

Lego Star Wars III covers episodes from The Clone Wars seasons one and two, including two of my personal favourites involving zombies and a giant Godzilla-like monster. However, there’s only one straight mission played from the Dark Side point of view, which is a bit of a shame.

Oh-ho, the Force is strong in this ‘un!

Even before I had got halfway through the story campaign (barely 15% of the game) and before I had discovered the land battles, I had noted that Lego Star Wars III was “full of inventive and varied gameplay”. As I played more and more I began to realize just how accurate that statement was.

Just wandering around the hub yielded so many surprises, far more than one game had any right to pack in. There are hours and hours of content here for single-player alone, and that’s not counting multiplayer. Yes, you can play those RTS battles in multiplayer, which is worth the asking price on its own. The only slight disappointment is the lack of a level editor, which hasn’t been seen since Lego Indiana Jones 2.

If you’re remotely into Star Wars, even if you have no interest in The Clone Wars, you should get this game. If you enjoyed previous Lego games by Traveller’s Tales, you should get this game. If you just plain like enjoyable, funny games, which Mojo is frankly built on, you should be getting this game.

Traveller’s Tales may lose their knack for making entertaining Lego games one day, but it is not this day! (Sorry, wrong film – but they should totally do a Lego version of that next)

PROS: A wide variety of entertaining gameplay, fun for absolutely all ages, action strategy battles!
CONS: It’s based on The Clone Wars, no level editor, not enough evil missions.

Chris ‘The Tingler’ Capel, April 2011