LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars isn't as light-hearted and it doesn't appeal to as broad of an audience as the first two games in this series. That is because this game is very combat-heavy and its story retells episodes from the TV show "Star Wars: Clone Wars," a series that is not as well known as the iconic "Star Wars" movies.
However, fans of the "Star Wars: Clone Wars" television show will find hours of in-depth gameplay and frantic action, featuring some of the favorite Star Wars characters, including Yoda, Jar Jar Binks, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padmé Amidala, Count Dooku and General Grievous. In all, there are 115 characters in the game.
Set during a civil war, this action adventure game is mostly about fighting your way through more than 20 levels which are filled with hordes of enemy droids and ships, ferocious beasts, bad guys and even some harder boss battles. Its pace is fast and furious, and has screens filled with relentless waves of enemies. There are both ground assault battles for you to control, as well as space combat.
Unlike the first two LEGO Star Wars games, the combat here is bigger and more frenetic than before, which ages this game up. Instead of being playable for ages 8 and up, this game is best played by kids 11 and older.
How to Play
Kids will use melee weapons, blasters, explosive weapons (such as grenades and rocket launchers) as well as rapid-fire and sniper guns. And, of course, lightsabers. However, since this is a Lego game, characters simply break apart into the Lego pieces when hit.
In addition to combat, kids will run around numerous Star Wars worlds, whacking things to break them apart so that they can collect Lego studs and bricks -- the currency within this world. You collect Legos so that you can purchase new playable characters and over 40 vehicles and space ships.
Some of the gameplay involves solving environmental puzzles where you need to switch between on-screen characters so as to use their unique skills. There are also puzzles which require you to be a Jedi so that you can use the force to manipulate your environment.
Two Modes of Play
There are two main modes of play in the game: Story Mode and Free Play. You must play through a level in the Story Mode before it is unlocked for Free Play. In the Story Mode, you are provided with the characters you need to win the level. In the Free Play, you can choose one main character, and the rest will be filled in. With new characters exploring a level in Free Play, you will find novel things to do and collect.
After the first training level, the Story Mode breaks into three separate story tracks, each with six levels. One involves the Sith enemy Count Dooku, one chases Sith Asajj Ventress and one tracks General Grievous.
The Bottom Line
If you are OK with the level of violence presented in this game, there are a lot of things that make it kid-friendly. First of all, you have unlimited lives and unlimited ammunition. While you may be fighting for your life, you never stay dead. Rather, you just break apart into Lego pieces and then reassemble right away. The game also adjusts on the fly to your ability to play, making the level easier if you are struggling.
The game also provides on-screen hints and instructions to help you navigate through the levels. They don't always make sense at first; but if you keep watching and trying things, eventually you'll get better. For example, when playing as a Jedi, you will see things with a blue glow. That means you can do something with that object or enemy -- but you'll have to experiment to figure out what. The game rewards you for trying new things. However, there are times when the relentless hordes of enemies can feel overwhelming.
This game offers some unique game play. At times, your party of characters will split up. You can then jump between two different scenes. As you play within one, the other will appear in a small inset up in the corner of your screen.
LEGO Star Wars III provides an adrenaline rush for kids who love the TV show on which it is based. It is filled with cheeky videos reenacting episodes from the television series, with added Lego humor. And it has the option to add a second controller at any time, so that two friends can play it together.
But it isn't a good fit for kids not familiar with the TV show or for ones who want to take their time to explore and puzzle through the colorful alien worlds. This is high octane gameplay focused on mowing down enemy droids and ships.
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