Sunday, October 18, 2009's a spoon

In 2003 Genndy Tartakovsky changed the perception of a sinking Star Wars franchise.  Mixing the art style of Samurai Jack with Star Wars and then forcing the story to be compressed into three to four minutes of action showed that a good Star Wars story could be told without bad acting or worse dialogue.  In 2008 Lucas started airing on TV a CG re-imaging of the Tartakovsky stories that tells the official Clone Wars story since the movies only briefly allude the beginning and end of the fabled battles.

Star Wars Clone Wars: Republic Heroes is set in the story from the 2008 series between season one and season two.  The concept of the game is a mix between LEGO Star Wars, Little Big Planet, and Star Wars Battlefield.  It takes some of the best aspects for each but some implementations are just not fully realized.

The game switches between playing as two Jedi or two Clones.  As Jedi you have lightsabers and the force, and playing as Clones you have guns and explosives.  Game play is a cross between button mashing when playing as a Jedi and twin-stick shooter when playing as a Clone.  Jedi can also jump on top of droids to either take control of them or (after paying for an upgrade) make the droids dance.  Combat for either type of play is mostly competent and intuitive but the game developers have added a tutorial throughout in the form of Yoda instructing players how to play.  The problem with this tutorial form is that you can't turn it off (but you can skip by pressing O) and the tutorial messages are repetitive and break up the game play.  Annoying are you, yes Yoda.

By the time I played through the first Act of the game I was accepting of the fact that even though I'm a smart gamer and can figure something out on my own, I would inevitably have Yoda pop up to explain what I'd already figured out. 

In the description above I describe the game as a mixture of LEGO Star Wars and Little Big Planet.  Playing through the levels you can collect little blue orbs for points which can be spent to buy combat upgrades, droid-jak upgrades, droid dances, masks and hats, and cheats.  I liken the game to Little Big Planet because there are different depths of field that you can jump from.  This is the one of the problems that makes this game frustrating.  Yoda (in one of his annoying tutorials) says that you can jump and the Force will land the Jedi where he's supposed to go.  But Yoda lies.  There are many times where jumping is critical to move forward in the level, but the Force doesn't seem to correct the path at all.  Fortunately death is meaningless in this game.  You die, but re-spawn very close by from where you died.  There is no penalty for death, no loss of blue orbs or Jedi points, so even if you miss where you're supposed to jump to and die, you can keep trying....again and again and again.

Apparently I'm a bit more critical than my kids.  They really enjoy this game.  They like the ability to make the droids dance (it's cute but breaks the moment of battle), they like the ability to change hats and masks, and they like the ability to replay missions as different Jedi than from the first "story" play through.

Multiplayer in the game is handled by allowing both players to play on the same screen as the partner to the main character (Jedi or Clone).  The kids really enjoy that too.

Overall, the game has some very annoying quirks, but when presented to young Star Wars fans, the game is not bad.

Also, for those who want relatively easy trophies, this is worth playing too.

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