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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Pandemic
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Thanks to the much heralded 'power of the Xbox', Star Wars: The Clone Wars is easily the best looking of the three games. However, these enhancements come at a price, and for every enhancement there is also a drawback. Besides the greatly improved special effects, Clone Wars sports an almost complete overhaul for the game's models. Everything in the game has been reworked in order to give it a more 'used' feeling, but this is something I felt could have been pushed a little more. For example, having vehicles smoke as they take damage really would have gone a long way, as would have visible structural damage. As usual, it's the details that get to me. The new details also seem to come at a price to the game's framerate, which tends to slow down not only during times when multiple enemies are on the field, but even during a few mundane areas such as having the camera pan over a mountain during a cut scene. All problems aside, Clone Wars remains a solid looking game and does an excellent job of conveying the Star Wars universe.

As for how the game sounds, well has there ever been a Star Wars game with bad sound? Sure some of the games have been stinkers, but even coasters like Yoda Stories and Force Commander sounded great. Clone Wars features a nice mix of music from both the original trilogy and prequels - such as the oh-so-subtle interludes of the Imperial March during some levels with Anakin. I was also rather impressed with the voice work. Though none of the real actors were used, I couldn't tell much of a difference between Anakin in the movie and in the game.


For years, Star Wars fans have looked at the Clone Wars with the same sense of awe that American History fans have the Civil War or WWII. These were the battles where Obi-Wan made himself a war hero, Anakin began his descent towards the dark side, and the Empire was born. Until now, little was known about what really happened at the Clone Wars, but by the end of the game, most questions will be answered.

Surprisingly enough, the game starts right before the end of Attack of the Clones. Jar-Jar has just screwed the entire galaxy by voting to give Palpatine the powers to create an army, Yoda has set out to Kamino to inspect the Clone Army, and Mace and the Jedi are on their way to Geonosis to rescue Anakin and Obi-wan. The intention of the game is that you'll participate in the battles that will never make it to the movies, since Episode III is supposed to open up with the last battle of the war. In addition to connecting Episodes II and III, Clone Wars also serves as a link to the Expanded Universe by bringing in Exar Kun and Ulic Qel Droma from the Dark Horse comic book series.

As expected, battlefields aren't limited to Geonosis alone, but instead span across six different worlds including Raxus Prime, Rhen Var, and Kashyyyk. At its core, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a straight out vehicle shooter such as Twisted Metal combined with the layout of Rogue Leader or Starfighter. At the beginning of each mission, you will be assigned a vehicle and charged with mission objectives, usually meaning just blast the hell out of anything that isn't on your side. These are obviously some of the more intense parts of the game - especially missions that have you rescuing prisoners or refugees.

As great as these parts are, there is one major flaw that can ruin parts of the game. At certain points in the game, your Jedi leaves his ship in order to take out a power station or make it to another ship. The problem is that the engine has a very hard time handling these areas, turning what should be agile, mystical warriors into cumbersome, mystical warriors. There's really no way you can make these areas easier - just grin and bear it.

Perhaps the biggest addition to the Xbox version is the inclusion of Live support. When I first saw Clone Wars a year ago, I remember thinking how near the game would be online. Little did I know that not only would Lucasarts make my dream a reality, but that they would do it in a way that surpassed my expectations. While players can still participate in the standard Multiplayer modes that shipped with the original two versions of the game, the new Conquest mode is where all the fun is to be had. After forming teams, players are let loose on a giant battlefield littered with bases. As the two teams battle, the can capture bases and create both laser turrets to defend their bases and drones to accompany their units in battle. Players can even take control of a tower and take control of a satellite to relay troop movements to team members. It should go without saying that the online component alone makes Clone Wars worthwhile, even for players who already have the GC or PS2 version.


When historians go back and review the records of what happened during the Clone Wars, they'll find that most of the fighting was done by either Mace, Obi-Wan, or Anakin. Yes, despite all of their resources, Clone armies, and Jedi - Mace, Obi-Wan, and Anakin were the only ones who did any actual fighting. Or at least this is the impression I had while playing through the game. Most of Star Wars: The Clone Wars feels like a one-man versus the world scenario - making the game incredibly hard at points. Even when playing on the Padawan level, some missions are outright impossible because of the lack of participation by any of the other soldiers in your army. Sure you have wingmen during missions, but honestly they are about as useful as Jekk Porkins in a dogfight. For example, early in the game you are charged with transporting a convoy of Jedi to the arena on Geonosis. Despite having a wingman to help you out, the game throws way too many obstacles in your path, making for an extremely unbalanced battle.

Game Mechanics:

Players familiar with Rogue Squadron or any of the other Star Wars vehicle-based games (including Demolition), will feel right at home with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Although the schemes do vary slightly based on which vehicle you're using, they are all easy to use and shouldn't throw anyone for a loop. It is still advisable to take a few minutes at the beginning of each mission to familiarize yourself with the controls so you're not searching for the missiles or turbo button when you need it in a mission.

Even with most of its problems, Clone Wars is still a fun title - especially for Star Wars fans. Whether it's the high-impact vehicle battles, the excellent online options, or the numerous unlockable features; there's always something about Clone Wars that will have you going back to play it just one more time. Though it may not look like it, Clone Wars is a genuinely fun game and worth the purchase.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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