Star Wars games have always had a very mixed degree of quality. On the one hand, there are some great ones out there like Knights of the Old Republic and Republic Commando. On the other hand, there are games like this one. I came to own this game through Steam when they did a massive sale on their Star Wars bundle. I'm not entirely sure why I decided to install, let alone play this game. I was probably extremely bored at the time. I'm quite a big fan of Star Wars. I love the original trilogy, have seen the prequel trilogy, and have a basic understanding of the 3D animated Clone Wars show that this game based on. I heard from a friend that the show is pretty good, so I figured that this game might be worth a go. I was wrong.
The first sin that this game commits happens right as you start it up: Games For Windows Live. Thankfully, I already had an account from when I played Red Faction Guerilla, so I didn't have to deal with that again. After waiting about an eternity and a half to get signed in and set up, the game takes you to the main menu. It's pretty basic with a splash image of the main characters in the background and the familiar Star Wars theme playing. Fair enough, it's nice and recognizable, and the interface is pretty nice and looks appropriate to a Star Wars game. Upon starting up a new game, you are shown a brief cutscene and thrown into the tutorial level of the game. This is where the game's first major flaw becomes apparent.
There are three completely different styles of gameplay that this game offers. The first is a basic hack&slash game with some platforming when playing as a Jedi. The second is a third-person shooter when playing as one of the Clone Troopers, and the third is a vertical scrolling space shooter when piloting some kind of flying vehicle. Here's the main problem though: none of them are any good. The lightsaber combat is dull and repetitive, with the only strategy being "mash the X button until the mans fall down." You have access to the Force Push, but its only use is for stunning enemies or pushing them off cliffs. One thing I take great issue with is the jumping. I have no idea how they could mess up jumping so badly. It's supposed to have been made easier by sort of snapping your character to where they're supposed to land, but it only works sometimes. I would frequently find my character falling to their death from a jump they should have easily made. The shooting bits as the Clone Troopers aren't much better. I'm not entirely sure why, but they decided to make these sections a twin-stick shooter with a cover system. It's completely bizarre. It also barely works. Most of the time the cover doesn't actually prevent you from taking damage, and the shooting is so unsatisfying and imprecise that it just isn't very fun. The flying sections are surprisingly adequate. They suffer from some floaty controls, but they're far from awful, especially considering the other two sections.
The story is abysmal, but what do you expect from a Star Wars game based on a TV show?It's pretty much a given that Lucas is a terrible writer without someone there to reign in his terrible ideas. So it makes sense that the writing in this game is on the level of the prequels *shudders*. The plot is set between the first and second seasons of the TV show. It follows the Jedi as they try to stop the destructive plan of the Seperatists to use a superweapon called the “Gravitic Polarization Beam” to destroy Naboo. A bounty hunter named Cad Bane gets involved at some point as well. I admit, I lost track of the plot because it gave me absolutely no reason to care about any of it. The dialogue is laughable too. I actually found myself wondering whether or not I was actually playing as the good guys or not. I remember a specific cutscene where Anakin Skywalker, who at this point is still very much on the Light side, and his padawan Ahsoka (who I'll get to in a bit) discussing how they're going to free a planet from the droids. Strangely enough, they kept using phrases like "eliminate the resistance" and "destroy them all." Look, I know they're robots and all, but it has been established in the Star Wars universe that droids can have at least some kind of personality. Just look at C-3PO. Anakin should especially know this considering HE BUILT C-3PO IN A CAVE, WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS! I thought Jedi were supposed to be the paladins of the Star Wars universe, and not casually talk about killing things like this.
I promised I'd get to Ahsoka and so here I go. She suffers from the same problem as the female companions in the new Doctor Who series under Steven Moffat. Her entire personality is "sassy". She's sarcastic, reckless, rebellious and talks back to her master. This does not make her a good character. She does it all the time, to the point where it becomes annoying. It's also extremely uncharacteristic for a Jedi padawan. Pupils of the Jedi Order are supposed to have deep respect for their elders, not constantly sass-talk to them. She's not the only terrible character in the game of course. Pretty much every character has no discernible motivations or ever personality traits that can't be summed up in one word. Common traits include “stoic” and “annoying”.
In the interest of fairness I feel like I should mention that this game isn't completely awful. It has a few redeemable qualities. For example, the presentation is very good. The graphics are very good and animations are pretty decent. It makes it look a lot like the show.The music, as with pretty much every Star Wars property ever, is great. It's got a great feeling of the classic tunes with a hint of modern. Sound effects are very appropriate, with blaster fire and lightsaber slashes sounding like they should. Even the interface is nicely done.
But at the end of the day, the game isn't fun to play. Sure, the graphics and music are nice, but if it's a frustrating gameplay experience, then you're better off watching the TV show. I'm willing to forgive a game for a lot of flaws, but this game is beyond forgiveness. The story is a mess, the characters are as interesting and likeable as sandpaper, and the gameplay is completely broken. While it has a few small redeeming qualities, I can safely call this game bantha poodoo.