We love a good Lego game here at K&G. The latest addition to the growing portfolio of Lego titles is the third Star Wars release (maybe more than a month ago, but we’re just now playing it). This time it’s all about the Clone Wars cartoon that airs on Cartoon Network, not to be confused with the Clone Wars mini episodes from years ago. Easily addressed as one of the few pitfalls of the game, as with any Lego game, is the ease at which you’ll find yourself completely lost without a clue as to what’s going on if you haven’t followed the cartoon. We’ve only seen a handful of episodes, which definitely helped, but at times the best we could do was enjoy the gameplay without any real basis from which to ‘get’ the puns and sometimes subtle humor injected into these titles. Do yourself a favor and watch a few episodes, the full length movie that was in theaters, or otherwise get to know the characters in some way before playing Lego Clone Wars.
Okay, let’s jump right into our impressions of the game.
Like all Lego games, players are given a static hub from which they can launch into missions (chapters) and hang out in. What’s great about Clone Wars is that your hub is a Star Destroyer class ship so it’s enormous. Several lifts give you access to various locations like the bridge bays, brigs, medical centers, and even a hangar. The hangar is the cool part since you can purchase/unlock star ships that allow you to actually leave your ship in real time, enter space and fly around shooting bad guys, and even fly into the enemy Droid ship’s cargo hold where the evil characters have set up shop. Once on their ship you find yourself with an additional base (for the enemies) full of places to explore and evil characters to unlock.
The basic story missions of Clone Wars lasted about 8 hours for us. There were four different sectors, each having six chapters. You access these through one of many consoles that bring up a planetary map. It felt to us like the missions didn’t follow a very specific order, but they definitely lined up with certain key episodes (if not every one with an episode, just several we had not seen). Clone Wars mixes things up by giving players siege-missions where you’re actually attacking a planet. You’ll get to buy structures to produce vehicles, clone squads, all with the goal if taking over the zones controlled by the enemy. There are also the space maps where you get to fly around in various vehicles destroying enemy Droid capital ships in big space battles. Both of these are great additions to mix up the already great classic play (which we still enjoy the most).
Mission variety expands further as you explore and realize the basic story lines aren’t all. If you go to the bad guys’ capital ship you’ll find a Bounty Hunter area that you can gain access to and unlock the special Bounty Hunter mission that follows the story line from the cartoon closely. Once that is played through (it’s a fun one) you’ll get to play various quick “find them fast” style hunt missions that put you back in the maps you played through in the story and you’re timed to see how fast you can use the various bounty hunters to find characters like R2 or Yoda hidden on the level. There are also space missions, additional sieges for both good and bad guys, and other missions/challenges to play through once you’ve unlocked them.
Character variety is immense, as always. It’s fun having two different sides to get characters for and since it’s Star Wars there’s everything from Droids to Mon Calimari padawans. Some of the neater additions are the specific force power updates to some of the Jedi and the sniper rifles you’ll find on characters like Bounty Hunters that actually zoom in. This character diversity is used greatly in Clone Wars to force you to unlock characters needed to gain access to hidden or locked parts of the big ship hubs. As noted above, some of these areas actually contain more missions, and some contain secret unlocks.
Some Downsides now. We ran into a few bugs along the way. One cutscene in particular the characters were completely invisible. On one mission the objective wouldn’t trigger (the option to land in a cargo hold) so we had to restart the level. The absolute worst issue with the game is the camera. Sometimes the angles with two players can really be horrible and it’s better to just have the second player drop out. The dynamic split screen is only half to blame for this because even when statically splitting the screen there are ledges you’ll fall off without knowing they are there or entire objectives you simply can’t see. Some puzzles were also a little… frustrating. This is more than likely user error,
Overall, it captures the feeling of Clone Wars and represents the Lego property well. Many innovations to this familiar model are made in the form of flying to other ships, the types of missions you can go on like ground battles and multi-layer space battles, combat abilities, and overall polishes to the gameplay. The levels are true to the cartoon, the humor is fantastic, and it’s simply a fun game to play coop or by yourself. Watch some episodes of the cartoon and definitely the movie and you’ll be set for many hours of enjoyment.
Note: We played the Xbox 360 version, mostly Coop.