Friday, February 05, 2010

Video game number thirty five: Star Wars the Clone Wars: Republic Heroes

Game review number thirty five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes".

I love Star Wars.

I wait in opening night lines at theaters for the movies. I own just about every type of collectible you can possibly buy from the saga. I've played most of the Star Wars video games they've made. I even dress up in Star Wars costumes and go to conventions sometimes.

All that being said, I can't give this game a positive review. First of all, it's based on the Clone Wars TV show. I didn't like the Clone Wars movie much (Anakin calling his Padawan "Snips", and her calling him "Skyguy" pretty much made me hate the two of them instantly). The baby Hutt called "Stinky", the way the Battle Droids are even more of a joke than the prequels and the corny announcer guy pretty much made me hate that movie. I never bought the DVD, and I've only watched one or two episodes of the TV show that it spawned. I'm not impressed.

Still, this is a Star Wars game, you control Jedi with lightsabers and in some levels, you can be a Clone Trooper. Sounds like it could be a combination of the Episode 3 video game (which I thought was a lot of fun) and Battlefront, which is also good. It's not. I really wanted to like this game. I'm probably genetically predisposed to like it....but I just couldn't.

This game is a terrible platformer, with terrible controls, terrible graphics and a stupid story. It's not like I played a few levels and gave up, either. I have a HIGH tolerance for all things Star Wars, so I played through the entire first Act (21 levels) of this game. There are two difficulty levels, and I played it on the Master difficulty, and I kept playing it...despite the fact it wasn't very fun. I kept hoping it would get better, but it never did.

This game is a mix of lightsaber hacking (always fun) and terrible jumping puzzles. Yoda pops up to give you "tips" every five seconds, whether you want them or not. One of the tips he gives you is that a Jedi can land any jump he begins. Bullshit, Yoda. Maybe in the movies...but not in this craptacular game. Played this piece of shit, you must have little green friend.

All too often in this game, you have to jump from one place to another, and it's always some kind of bottomless pit that will kill you if you miss the jump. This isn't a matter of skill, it's a matter of luck. If the camera decides to cooperate (or maybe, if the Force is with you)'ll land the jump. Other times, you'll fall and die, for no reason. Dying costs you points, but nothing else. Like Lego Star Wars, you spawn right back onto the screen, and the furthest back you'll ever go is a few feet to the previous checkpoint.

As dying is no wonders why they made these jumps so damn deadly. Most of the levels I went through as a Jedi caused me to die a dozen or so times on missed jumps, and the only penalty that there seemed to be was doing things over and over again. I got frustrated with the game, and the story rewards at the end of each level became less and less worth it. It was a slow grind, with no payoff.

I haven't watched the cartoon enough to know whether or not this is based on the series, but the plot basically involves you moving from level to level, hunting various bad guys. I didn't care who...or why. There wasn't enough dialog to let me know what was going on, just enough to let me know I was hunting a bad guy because of feelings my Padawan had. In a Star Wars game, this is rare...usually there's an interesting story, but this one might as well have been a Crash Bandicoot game for all I cared.

Aside from the jumping and dying, the game is all about killing bad guys. When you're a Jedi, you use your saber, or the force. The force push is pretty cool....and powerful. Your saber has no combos or "moves", you mash the attack button and it kills everything on the screen. I actually didn't mind that, it's always fun to kill things with your saber. You can "Droid Jak" the robots in the game by jumping on their head. Once on their head, you can either take control of them and make them shoot down the other droids, you can kill them....or...if you spend your points on the upgrade, you can make them dance.

In Lego Star Wars, the dancing made sense. It's a silly game, set in a Lego world, and every once in awhile you would find a disco ball that would make the characters dance to Star Wars music. It was cute and infrequent enough that you would actually have fun every time you saw it.

In the Clone Wars, the "B" button activates "Dance mode". All droids on the screen start dancing. I don't remember this part from any of the movies, and I don't assume the cartoons include it. It seems almost as if some jackhole executive was sitting in a conference room with the designers telling them that this game had to have dancing, because he really liked the dancing in Lego Star Wars. The implementation in this game is stupid and over the top, and has absolutely nothing to do with the game itself. It would be like playing Halo and suddenly finding a smiling star from Mario brothers that made you "super" for a few minutes. Having dance power makes you pretty much invincible, and you can pretty much walk around and hack the droids up when they're least until the song stops. You can use this at any time, on any level. It was fun about the first 3 times I encountered it....then it was just stupid.

When you're not a dance-inducing Jedi, you play as a clone. The clone levels are more of a third person shooter than the Jedi levels. You can shoot with the right trigger or use both sticks...a la' Smash TV. The clones have grenades, blasters and every once in awhile, a rocket launcher. One thing the Clones don't have? Impossible jumps. This makes their levels a nice breather from the Jedi levels.....but because a random jump doesn't kill you every few minutes, they feel a little easy by comparison.

There were a couple of small things I enjoyed in the game. Sometimes you have to take down a force field, and you do this by "hacking consoles". This is fun little mini-game, where you align grids on a circle with other similarly colored grids, taking care not to align red grids (they reset the hack). Some of these puzzles are actually difficult, and I wonder how little kids are at these.

I like flying the STAPS (the vertical standing speeder bikes the battle droids ride in Star Wars: Episode 1). I enjoyed force pushing droids off cliffs (although I never got the achievement for doing it 50 times). Driving the AT-RT as a clone was mildly amusing...for a minute or two.

Overall, this game sucks. The only reason anyone should ever buy it is if they REALLY love the Clone Wars or if their kid does. Parents could also buy this one if they hate their kid...and want to punish them. Perhaps you've got a fat child and you want them to go outside and play? No problem. Buy them this game and tell them it's the only game they can play until Christmas. I guarantee it will work better than Wii Fit.

Seriously, there are 100 other Star Wars games out there, and just about all of them are better than this one. I tried hard to think of a Star Wars game I liked less than this one....and so far the only one I can come up with is Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. I even liked Super Bombad Racing better than this one. :-)

Overall score: 3/10. Purely ass.
Achievements? Yeah...they're easy...but really not worth the grind. The gamerscore isn't worth letting people know I was silly enough to play this passed the first level or two.


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