The Clone Wars (GC)

Review (Gamecube) - by Andrew "telarium" Langley

The goal for Star Wars: The Clone Wars is to put you in the middle of the battles we’ve heard so much about in the Star Wars saga, but when it actually comes down to it, I think the experience really wasn’t worth the wait. This new title is essentially a vehicle combat game in which you drive around and shoot a bunch of things. While some may find a lot of entertainment here, I found The Clone Wars to be a mildly interesting but ultimately forgettable game.

Well at least LucasArts and Pandemic attempted to cram a story into this game, but that’s about the only positive thing I can say. Count Dooku has reassembled an ancient machine called The Dark Reaper that was used a long time ago in a war between the Jedi and the Sith. This machine has the ability to harness the living force and use its power to kill anyone who comes near it. During an ancient battle, one fallen Jedi was able to figure out how to survive the Dark Reaper’s power and defeat it. Anakin is ordered to travel to a remote planet and find the tomb of this Jedi, which is guarded by spirits that shoot things at you. Yes, that’s right. Spirits that shoot things. In the tomb, Anakin uncovers a hologram of the dead Jedi, and for reasons I don’t quite understand, has a long conversation with the hologram about how to overpower the big bad machine. Oh, and you have to blow up a lot of stuff in the process.

I have no problems with the controls here. They’re very effective and simple to use. The learning curve here is smaller than a game like Starfighter, so you should be able to just jump in this game and start blasting away.

The graphics here are adequate, yet disappointing when you compare them to the high standards set by Rogue Leader and Galaxies. Similarly, the cutscenes seem inferior when you look at games like Jedi Starfighter or Bounty Hunter. What little character animation there is in this game is very stiff and lifeless. Watching the Jedi run on a battlefield seemed particularly awkward and laughable. I thought the Jedi were supposed to be graceful warriors? On top of that, the frequent dips in frame rate certainly didn’t help things.

The sound effects and music are mostly borrowed from the previous Star Wars films, which isn’t a bad thing. The audio helps to reinforce the chaotic nature of the battlefields. I’ve been told that the Dolby technology sounds really impressive for this game, but since I don’t have all that expensive equipment, I’ll just have to take their word on that one.

The voice acting is pretty decent. Count Dooku, Mace Windu, Yoda, and Obi-Wan are voiced quite well by their respective actors. Anakin is portrayed by Matt Lucas (any relation?) and actually does sound like Hayden Christensen. His delivery, however, is very flat and unemotional. Perhaps Matt did a perfect job of mimicking previous Star Wars performances in that respect.

There were quite a few cases of the dialogue stuttering and repeating itself in the game. I would be in the middle of a battle and Obi-Wan would say, “Our forces are outnumbered. I’m ordering a – Our forces are outnumbered. I’m ordering a – Our forced are outnumbered. I’m ordering a full evacuation – full evacuation.” This would result in loud clicking sounds coming from my Gamecube’s CD tray. I wonder if I just got a defective disc or something.

LucasArts promised that this game would place you in the middle of many hectic Clone Wars battles, and that’s more or less what you get. The gameplay was fairly entertaining, but only in small doses. My interest seemed to fade after about 30 minutes of shooting things. After an hour or two, I could pick up the game again and enjoy myself for another short period of time.

While the vehicle battles can be fun, the few third-person parts of the game just seem unnecessary. Your moves are very limited and just not fun at all. Again, I think we may have been spoiled from superior games like Jedi Outcast, which showed us just how much fun lightsaber-wielding action can be.

I didn’t get a chance to try out the multiplayer features of this game, as no one I know is interested in playing Star Wars games.

In Conclusion:
At E3, LucasArts President Simon Jeffery told us many gamers felt that the Star Wars titles released a few years ago didn’t feel special. I can’t help but wonder how this game fits into the new direction for the company. The Clone Wars feels very uninspired and more like a chore that was assigned to fill an Episode II requirement. This especially rings true as we have so many things on the horizon to look forward to. Games like RTX Red Rock and even Bounty Hunter seem to have more promise of a concentrated effort by creative people who really care about their product. This title felt more like the corporate commercial I had to sit through before I could watch the feature presentation.

Useless Bit o' Trivia:
El Pollo Diablo is thanked in the ending credits for the game. Draw your own conclusions.

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