Game Review: 'LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars'

Filed under: Video Games

Rated IFFY for Ages 10 to 12

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that "LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars" is a toy-based, movie-licensed action game, but with a better pedigree than that description generally implies. The LEGO video games have a big following because they have been consistently high-quality games, and this one is no exception. However, this one is more violent than previous games. There are massive chaotic battles with scores of weapon-wielding warriors onscreen at once; the sheer intensity of it all may be overwhelming for some younger children. In a way, the violence here mimics the darker, more intense fighting and action sequences of the "Star Wars: Clone Wars" cartoon series, on which it is based.

The good stuff

  • Ease of play: The ease of play here may depend on which console you're using. We had no trouble on an Xbox 360 version, but a test of the Wii version showed some confusing discrepancies between onscreen instructions and the buttons you really need to press for some actions.
  • Educational value: There is a bit of puzzle-solving in the game, though not as much as in some previous Lego video games. Still some logic and brainwork is required here.
  • Role models: The amount of loyalty and teamwork on display from the heroic characters here is impressive. The good guys constantly put themselves in harm's way in order to help out or rescue a friend. And they often try to capture a villain, rather than destroy him or her outright.

What to watch out for

  • Messages: While there are clear distinctions between good and evil in the Star Wars universe, this particular game can send a somewhat mixed message in that there are a whole series of missions that allow players to take on the role of villains. In these missions, you will have to shoot and destroy many of the heroic characters you've just been playing as.
  • Violence: The game's characters are all depicted as plastic Lego toys, which mitigates the severity of the violence, but the fighting here is much more intense than in previous Lego video games. There are massive battle scenes, during which there appear to be hundreds of combatants onscreen. Laser blasts and fiery explosions are everywhere you look. And it gets loud. Lego characters break apart when killed. During one movie sequence, a hero character loses an arm (he replaces it, but it hangs down, floppy and useless). In another, a good guy is shot in the chest and appears to die, but a Jedi character "heals" him by removing the bullet hole (which turns out to be a decal).
  • Sex: You see a droid on the toilet as a visual joke.
  • Language: Not an issue.
  • Consumerism: The game is awash in licensed images from both the Star Wars and Lego brands. Drinking, drugs, & smoking: Not an issue.

What's the Story?

"LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars" presents the plot-lines of many of the episodes from the first two seasons of the "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" animated TV series. The Galactic Republic, led by the mystical Jedi Knights, is defending the galaxy from an insurrection by the evil Separatist Army (most of which is made up of robotic droids). Missions occur on varied planets -- deserts, jungles, very urban cities, etc. And some are spaceship battles that take place among the stars. In between missions, there are two huge motherships (one belonging to each side of the war) that can be explored -- along with the battle-filled space in between those two ships.

Is It Any Good?

"Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars" has a whole lot of good things going for it, and a few flaws that tend to stand out. On the positive side, it has the same witty sense of humor (especially in the cinematic scenes) as its predecessors, along with the same surprise-filled exploration aspect and incredibly enjoyable character-collecting aspect. The hub world (from which you can enter into different episodic missions) is astoundingly vast, with new areas opening up constantly. And the non-linear mission set-up is a nice change of pace for the LEGO games -- you can jump around the story, always having at least three new mission options open to you. While the massive battle scenes are technologically impressive, it sometimes feels too chaotic. You will frequently lose track of your character. And the mission levels are sometimes incredibly long, requiring a half-hour or more to finish. That wouldn't be a bad thing if you were able to save along the way -- but you're not. On the whole, this is still a great game, though, and should please most fans.

Play it on: Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox 360

This review of "LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars" was written by Christopher Healy.

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