Clone Wars Adventures Impressions

Update: Although the game is in “open beta” it still has a NDA according to CM Plex.  This post was originally made yesterday but I pulled it out of respect.  The rest of the internet doesn’t care, and this isn’t a review really as much as it is my “impressions” for my “friends” (you’re all my friends, k?).

Clone Wars Adventures is the Star Wars version of Free Realms… or so we thought when we went to play yesterday.   When we heard that SoE was taking the popular Star Wars cartoon and turning it into a F2P game, pretty much everyone immediately thought of Free Realms.

While the game shares many things with Free Realms, the two are actually more different than they are alike.  Free Realms attempts to create a virtual world feeling.  Your character moves around in a standard 3d environment in a fairly traditional way.  In Clone Wars it feels more like you’re looking at your character move in more of a left to right pseudo 3d environment feel with a fixed camera angle.  The game so far, when playing your character, plays more like moving screen to screen.

Just how much is played as your character?  So far it’s just the part where you’re in a lobby area walking from mini-game to mini-game.  This is just a beta, but unless I’ve missed something (and I may have, please let me know and I can update this), it appears that the entirety of the game is mini-games.

Free Realms has a world to explore, monsters to fight, and offers more than mini-games.  In Clone Wars I look out the windows and see a city-like atmosphere that just begs to be explored or adventured in, even in a shallow way like Free Realms… but it’s all so confined in CWA.

Since the game is so much about the mini-games at this point, let’s talk about them.  They’re not bad.  There’s everything from Tower Defense to an on-rails starship shooter (lol SWTOR) to a who-can-press-the- arrow-keys-patterns- faster saber duel game.  Some of them are stupid like the one where you throw your saber or have to match the blocks or tell what’s different about a picture,  but for the most part they’re deep and at times difficult on the harder levels.

The absolute best thing that we’ve seen and can say we love about Clone Wars are the graphics.  This is absolutely one gorgeous game that has captured the look and feel of the Clone Wars cartoon.  There’s a richness to the simplicity of the stylized cartoon appearance that really comes through on the higher resolutions.  It’s easy to get started and the whole thing is polished up nicely.

What little we’ve seen of the Station Cash microtransaction implementation, it looks to be all about the costumes and furniture.  If you want the Boba Fett outfit (which every kid and adult will) then you’ll need to pull out the wallet.  If you want the cool spaceships (I assume for use in the mini-games?) or furniture then it’ll cost you.  If your character meant more than an avatar in a lobby we’d be all over the idea but right now it serves no purpose to buy any of this stuff if it’s all mini-games anyway.

Some of the features, like an inventory with slots for gear, are a bit aggrandizing.  They serve little purpose with the current direction of the game except to make it seem like there’s more going on than there really is or that the game is a MMO/RPG/whatever.

If SoE makes Clone Wars like Free Realms with places to explore, quests to complete, monsters to kill and more than just mini-games then we’re both going to be all over this game.  If it remains as-is then it’s a missed opportunity that doesn’t offer much more than a flash game site would with a Star Wars coat of paint. In other words, there’s no reason to play it.

  • I agree and was stunned about how far off the course this was compared to FreeRealms.

    It was a horrible experience. Even the mini games are not fun at all. Unless you like Duck Hunt without a “gun” controller.

    I’m really surprised Lucas Arts put their stamp of approval on this.

  • From the Massively interview with Matt Higby from June:

    “Another huge difference people will immediately notice is in our world design. Rather than having exploration and a large world as core features, we made the decision early on to go with a more hub-based approach. Areas in CWA are very close together and strongly thematically linked to the games that are launched there in order to make everything in the game as accessible and streamlined as possible.”

  • When I realized I couldn’t control the camera, and that it was just a hub with a bunch of mini games on rails I was pretty much done with it.

  • No one ever said this game was an MMO, and especially not an RPG. It’s aimed for kids, young ones who watch the cartoon. No offense, but you’re not the target market.

    Free Realms is an MMORPG. Clone Wars isn’t, and isn’t pretending to be. It’s an online minigame hub for kids who like the Clone Wars cartoons.

  • You’re right, it’s not a MMO. It is, however, an online virtual world as stated directly on the official site. My opinion is that this virtual world does not compare to the virtual world created by the same company. The opportunity was missed (or not yet taken advantage of?) for them to make it like Free Realms while maintaining their mini-games.

    As for target markets, I realize the closest I can get to being a kid is by calling myself a man-child who watches the cartoon and loved the movie. The FAQ says that the game is targeted at “everyone” and goes on to include “star wars fans” and “fans of fun”. I may not offer the perspective of a child, but I will evaluate the game based upon how I am able to perceive it.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad game. For what it is it’s mostly solid (some fun mini-games in there). It’s just a missed opportunity and disappointing to anyone who isn’t a wide-eyed Padawan.

  • “Missed opportunity” is the best way to describe it. I can’t imagine why anyone would waste money on buying outfits and such for their character.

  • Honestly, Keen. I suspect that Lucasarts share your opinion that the world of CWA does not compare to Free Realms. I also suspect that it was their intent from day one.

    I realize this is just a blog for fun, not a game reviewer blog, but come on.

  • My 6 year old daughter has been asking me to play video games for awhile now. She use to play Pixie Hollow on the Disney Website but they changed it and made it less fun for her.

    So yesterday afternoon I sat down with her and she tried out The Clone Wars. She liked the game. We only played for about 45 minutes and I was still talking her through how the mouse and keyboard work, but she enjoyed it. She did the star ship on rails, yea I ROFL at SWTOR on that one too. She did the Blaster game a few times, then she just ran around with her character.

    Most games that target little kids say they want “everyone” but in reality if you want a 6 year old to play your game most 16+ people wont find it as enjoyable. Heck even my 2 1/2 year old son managed to shoot a few droids in the Blaster game.

    I was impressed with the graphics and my kids loved that the intro to every mission had the same voice actor as the begining of all the cartoons.

    Try not to be to harsh on the game. Judge it for what it is meant to be, not what you want it to be. I think for the pre-teen crowd, which regardless of the everyone comment, is the true target market and I think they will love it.

  • @Derella

    My daughter’s favorite part about Pixie Hollow, The Clone Wars (thus far) and even when she watched me play WoW was making characters and dressing them up.

    If my daughter really got into Clone Wars and wanted to buy outfits for her character my wife and I would let her spend her allowance on it.

  • Did your son of daughter want you to spend any money? (woops, posted right after your second comment)

    I want to see a complete analysis done of these types of games (Free Realm, CWA, etc) to see which demographic spends the most money. I’m betting that people above 6 years old are responsible for the most money sinked into them. I would actually make a bet that the 20+ crowd spends most money (for themselves, not for their kids).

  • @ Keen

    Like I said to Derella. I could see my daughter wanting to play dress up with her character. I would let her spend her allowance on that.

  • I think your problem is that this game wasn’t designed for a possibly more lucrative market. My daughter just started the 1st grade this year. Most the kids in her class are already avid computer users. My wife finds it ironic that me being a huge computer nerd has been so opposed to letting her play on one yet.

    I think the reality of that is I’ve learned firsthand the positives and negatives of computers. I’m a very young parent, I’m 29 and my daughter is 6… so I was 23 when she was born. Most the parents of her class mates are in the mid to late 30’s some in their early 40s. They more or less missed the computer age while growing up, I lived it. I had a computer at DOS based computer in my room from the time I was 8 on. I’ve been addicted to EverQuest, to the point of 18 hours a day and dropping out of college. That’s why I’ve waited so long on letting my daughter play, but that isn’t normal. Most of her class mates are very computer savvy.

    Right now most of her class mates play the web based games on Nickelodeon’s website or Disney’s website. These games are free and a marketing dream, because even when the cartoon isn’t on the kids are still involved with their favorite character. These games are however limited.

    The Clone Wars is taking those games and making the next step forward. The Clone Wars is web based with a simple web addon to install, so most parents will be more inclined to install it and let their children try it rather than a full game install such as WoW. The games are simple, but advance in difficulty. Granted, we haven’t had much time to play it yet, but I can see where this Online Game is going.

    My daughter loves to play dress up. Heck even my son does. My daughters friends, who are both boys and girls, play dress up and all of them seem to love Star Wars. My daughter has played dress up on Pixie Hollow and with my WoW characters. I could see her wanting to spend money on clothes for her Clone Wars character.

    For the most part these kids parents were teenagers during the time Star Wars was released… Star Wars was a huge cultural thing back then… much like Harry Potter is today… honestly I would say Star Wars had a greater impact. This is a great IP for getting non-tech savvy parent’s sucked in. I’m sure most of the parents I know would be willing to spend some money on the game if their kids really enjoyed it. I know right now they already buy Wii games and Leapster games for their kids, how is spending $5 a month on stuff for the Clone Wars different? It’s just a small step, and I think that is what SOE plans on doing.

    I don’t know if the 2-12 age group is more lucrative than the 14+. What I do know is there isn’t much out there targeting that market. If SOE can make a viable game for this age group then they will have created NEW revenue for their company. If they are trying to market it towards the pre-existing gamer there aren’t creating new customers, just moving around the already existing ones that is greatly dominated by Blizzard.

  • I hate to say this Keen, but move along. You will not like this game. I had the good fortune to attend a presentation by one of the Producers of Free Realms, and in short the “Casual” player and the “Core” player are completely different beasts and for the most part it is foolish to make a game that caters to both types of players. And as such CWA is a Casual Online Game.

    One of the biggest lessons learned from Free Realms that they applied to SWA is that the casual player does not like to explore the world for the sake of exploring. As such there is now open world to explore in SWA since the target audience would not utilize it. Free Realms has places to explore only because they thought casual players would want to do so. Those areas have little utilization unless there is some other reason that meets the needs of the casual player.

    In short, SWA will not have features that “Core” gamers consider a game.