Who would have ever imagined that the new home of quality Star Wars titles is the Nintendo GameCube? Those who were loyal enough to purchase the GameCube on launch day were blessed with the excellent title that was Rogue Leader
, the next entry in the excellent Rogue Squadron
series. Now nearly a year later they receive the next entry in what looks to be a long line of excellent titles, Star Wars The Clone Wars
Focusing on the elements that transpired near the end of the major motion picture, the game thrusts you into the midst of an ongoing civil war. Throughout the course of the game you’ll assume the role of various characters from the saga as you kick some major separatist tail. The storyline spans quite a ways further than the end of Episode II
, introducing some new characters and possibly some spoilers about Episode III
. You’ll be able to step into the cockpit of quite a few vehicles including a fighter tank, a gunship, landspeeder, assault walker and even a maru. That’s right, you can step into the gunner seat of one of those gigantic pig-looking things. Certain sequences of the game will force you to hop out of the cockpit and kick some ass, lightsaber style. Those these are probably some of the weaker levels in the game; it’s still a nice deviation from the norm.
Maneuvering each vehicle is quite simple. Movement is handled with the analog stick. The shoulder buttons allow you to strafe the vehicle left and right in order to avoid oncoming fire, each vehicle has a special ability and a special weapon in addition to the primary weapon. Special abilities range from concentrated lasers to limited usage of a speed boost, all of which will prove to be vital to your success in the game. In the rare instances that you pilot the gunship, the shoulder buttons control the throttle of the ship as opposed to the strafe function, to allow you to speed up or slow down during combat.
Combat is what makes this game entertaining. While in the tanks the game plays much like a 3rd person shooter. Circle strafing is a necessity if you’re thinking about getting anywhere in this game. When a target gets into your sites the vehicle will lock on and essentially, it works like an auto aim function in order to compensate for the GC controller’s inaccuracies. Most of the time enemies will serve as mere fodder for you and your abilities. You’ll end up killing endless hordes of enemies and for the most part it’s one hell of an entertaining experience. There is plenty of variety in the missions, from breaking out of a separatist compound to defending a fleet of drop ships from an all out attack, there’s a lot of variety to be had here.
For the most part, the missions are structured quite well. The briefings are detailed and give you an idea of what objectives you’ll have to meet. Each objective is represented by a marking on the mini-map as well as a directional arrow on the top of the screen that points you towards the next objective. Often times cutscenes will occur in the middle of a mission to help break up the action and showcase what lies ahead for you. Presentation is just excellent and is some of the best too appear in a video game in years. Missions tend to run quite long and may last you upwards of 20 or more minutes. Quite a few problems arise when you discover there are no lives or checkpoints in the missions. Nothing is more frustrating than fighting for 20 minutes only to fail the mission because you couldn’t successfully destroy an obscure convoy. Including extra lives or respawn points would have easily cured this problem.
As you progress further into the game you’ll be able to give your AI squadmates command via the control pad. It works much like it did in Rogue Leader
as you’ll be able to issue commands such as attack and defend. Your squadmates aren’t exactly the brightest individuals on the planet but they’re still able to get the job done. It’s the dynamic of finding alongside a group of friendly units that really makes this game quite excellent.Clone Wars
succeeds because it gives the feeling that you’re part of a grand scale war. The atmosphere is just excellent as you rarely go at it alone and are often flanked by friendly troops who will fight alongside you. There are just plenty of memorable moments in the game that come from taking part in some huge battles. One early incident has you piloting a tank as you defend a convoy of heavy vehicles. While they rain heavy fire upon buildings and heavy units you are ordered to protect them from the more agile and quicker vehicles that prove to be a menace to their slow mobility. So you work as a team and watch the battle unfold around you. This makes you feel like you have a direct result in the mission’s success without having the mission revolve around you, it’s an immersive feeling that isn’t often produced in today’s games.
The voice acting is quite good but the impersonators are well off from what their movie counterparts have to offer. This game features a poor man’s Obi Wan who sounds like he used to do some vocal work for the TV show South Park
. He has that nasally voice about him and though his lines are delivered quite well, I found it to be kind of an annoyance. Especially since we’ve already had two competent actors portray the character, it’s just way off here.
Everything else in the game just sounds excellent. Clone Wars continues the long-standing tradition of audio excellence in LucasArts games. All of the sounds come in crystal clear and best of all; the game supports Dolby Pro Logic II. Audiophiles prepare to be engulfed in the sounds of war.
Visually the game is excellent all around. It’s not going to blow your senses away but the look gets the job done. There are some nice touches around the levels that will easily go un-noticed by the untrained eye. Especially noteworthy is the destruction of enemy vehicles, you’ll see them collapse and explode into a mass of metal and fire. A lot of effort was directed towards making the game look as true to the saga as possible and for the most part, it succeeds.
Also included are some excellent multiplayer modes that bring some excellent replay value to the table. In addition to the usual death match and team death match modes, there’s an excellent mode called Conquest where two teams fight to destroy the other’s base. You can build turrets and such to help defend your base as your enemies try to attack you. Surprisingly, multiplayer is just excellent but limiting it to only 4 players really hurts its effectiveness. I really wish that the programmers had allowed for bots to be included in the battles. That way, the gamer would able to wage grand scale wars against each other.
Clone Wars is an excellent title that will appeal to the die-hard Star Wars fan as well as the casual gamer. There is plenty of action to be had within the title and best of all; it works quite well with the clunky Game Cube controller. This is definitely one of the best surprises of the year and if you’re in the market for an excellent shooter, look no further than Clone Wars.Is the force weak in your living room? The Jedi Council recommends that you pick up Prima Games' excellent strategy guide to help you through your trials. You'll get in-depth descriptions of every mission as well as winning strategies in the multiplayer levels.