Over the past six years, few game series have become as ubiquitous as the LEGO series. By adapting powerhouse film franchises such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, and Harry Potter into brick-based adventures, developer Traveller’s Tales has amassed a devoted and sweeping audience. Across this prolific span, the studio has also cultivated a pleasing formula, training players to bash every suspicious on-screen object in an effort to amass a mountain of in-game currency.
Predictably, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars doesn’t deviate far from series norms. Bouncing bricks still await assembly into contraptions which permit forward progress, while sporadic teams of foes require vanquishing. Yet, a handful on additions ensure that LEGO loyalists won’t denounce the title as a half-hearted reskin. Space fighting segments add variety while proficiently exhibiting the hardware’s three-dimensional capabilities- while new characters such as the Clone Trooper, bring along enough firepower to fuel shmup-inspired interludes. Regrettably, one franchise fundamental is absent- the 3DS version of Clone Wars omits the ability to enjoy the game as a co-op experience.
As long as players aren’t bothered by directing a solitary block-breaker, Clone Wars delivers an admirably LEGO experience. Between the Jedi’s lightsaber-led melee strikes and the clone combatant’s satisfying blasting, the title’s rarely succumbs to either tedium or an energy-sapping enigma. If fact, whenever the specific abilities of a hero are required, the game telegraphs the solution by highlighting the correct character. As such, players move through the game’s thirteen lengthy levels with the rapidity of an X-Wing; a beneficial pace, as the cartridge doesn’t allow mid-level saves.
As enjoyable as Clone Wars is, there are a couple of baffling design decision. Although most of the game’s actions can be initiated by the analog nub and face button, circular stylus swirls to slice through doorways happen infrequently enough to vex players averse to holding an idle instrument. Same goes for R2D2′s hacking segments, which fail to introduce any excitement. While the game’s unlockables are a nice touch, finding the red brick required to open the supplements may be a bit too challenging for younger players.
Visually, Clone Wars‘ three-dimensional effects are admirable, which acquired studs jumping off the screen, before settling on the top part of the display. With the portable’s depth slider cranked up, many environmental cliffs divulge a bit more clarity in 3D, although the designers’ tendency to place collectables near edges will inevitably lead to a few errant deaths. Since saber-swing animations push characters forward, its best to steer clear of the game’s precipices entirely. While the game’s framerate is usually steady, the occasional waver occurs when playing in 3D. Sonically, the game’s commendably recreates Star Wars‘ unmistakable ship reverberations, blaster squeals, and droid squawks, over snippets of John William’s famous score.
By adhering fairly close to formula, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a moderate success- offering a solid interpretation of the polystyrene-brick busting action. Although a co-op component would have been appreciated with the 3DS’s Wi-Fi and ad-hoc capabilities- for single players, the game delivers enough polystyrene-brick breaking to warrant a purchase by software-starved hardware owners.