Lego Star Wars III Impressions

By on March 24, 2011

A more cynical man than me might suggest that TT Games’ Lego series is being rinsed. It’s easy to support this argument: the number of Uber-brands being re-created in Lego form is increasing. First there was Star Wars, then Indiana Jones and Batman. Then there was Harry Potter, and soon there will be Pirates of the Caribbean. Star Wars and Indiana Jones have both had sequels, while Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean will inevitably have sequels. Star Wars, the original and best of the brands, is also now the first to have it’s own Lego Trilogy: Lego Star Wars III – The Clone Wars will release on the 22nd of March, and there’s a demo to whet your appetite in case you are not looking to buy right away.

“But they covered all the films in the first two games,” you may have just cried. Lego Star Wars III is based on the currently running Clone Wars animated series, set, funnily enough, during the Clone Wars (between Episodes II and II), so there are still plenty of stories to be told. As it happens, the simplified designs of the series are ideally suited to Lego-fication, making this entry far and away the best looking Lego game to date.

The demo comes with two missions from the “General Grievous” campaign: “Destroy Malevolence” and “Shadow of Malevolence.” These missions are based on a storyline from early in the first series of The Clone Wars. Grievous has a secret weapon, a powerful warship named Malevolence, which is systematically tearing apart Republic Battlegroups that are being lured into traps. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi (no introductions needed) are dispatched to find and destroy it.

The first mission, Chapter 3, is a trawl through Malevolence to find a way to destroy it from within. Experienced Lego players will instantly be at home with the set-up and controls. Moving objects with the force, destroying droids with lightsabers and switching to R2-D2 to hover to hidden control panels are all present and correct. These simple concepts are kept from becoming too stale by increasingly complex level design: an interesting section here involves traversing a series of platforms with trains in between. Unfortunately, TT Games have not learned their lesson regarding mission lengths. The levels in the original Lego Star Wars were much shorter, which kept the game fresh and made it easier to dip in and out of. Having longer and more complex levels is better in theory, but in practice it shows up the repetition inherent in the game system. It won’t be game breaking at all, but here’s hoping there will be shorter levels. I’d much rather play a number of excellent 10-minute levels than the same number of dragged out 25-minute levels.

The level does showcase one of the new gameplay mechanics though – splitting the group of characters in two, so that they work simultaneously in different areas. It works OK, and is fairly well implemented, though it strikes me as undermining the point of puzzle- and action-based group play.

The second mission which, confusingly, is Chapter 2 in the General Grievous campaign, is actually a vehicle set mission. This level highlights the benefits of using The Clone Wars as a setting: there are all kinds of battles and adventures to participate in. This particular mission casts the player as Jedi Master Plo Koon as he attempts to board Malevolence during a space battle. Vehicle control is pretty tight – as good as it has been, at least – though Lego vehicle levels have a reputation for being a little frustrating. The second half of the mission has him on foot, and is pretty similar to the previous level.

The demo for Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is pretty much exactly as expected. It’s more of the same game that many of us fell in love with before. Will it survive the lack of a film behind it as an emotional anchor? Well, the original game was based on the prequel trilogy, so we’ll assume that’s not going to be a problem. This is the best looking Lego game to date, helped greatly by the neat designs of the TV show. The levels on display are good, but not great, though there’s plenty of potential. The game doesn’t have me hooked based on these two levels, but I imagine, come March 22nd when I have a full copy, I’ll lose a few days collecting studs before I even realise it.

The game is currently available on XBOX 360, PS3 & Wii.

About David Scarpitta

I am a critical guy, and love to review and give my professional opinion on just about anything. Though have a love for tech/gaming and music alongside the cinema. You can catch me consulting and developing the net any day of the week.