By LucasArts and Traveler’s Tales Games
Genre: Third-person Lego-crossover action
Star Wars has long been great fodder for video games, from the epic RPG Knights of the Old Republic (taking place 4,000 years before the first-released movie), to the RTS Empire at War (exploring rebel-versus-Empire skirmishes in detail from the movies and beyond), to the FPS Republic Commando (putting us in the armor of a Clone Commando and his unit, during the infamous Clone Wars).
The latter game is actually similar in time-frame to the latest Lego Crossover game with Star Wars, which previously saw all six of its movies fully Lego-fied (first in separate editions by trilogy set, then combined into the Complete Saga). This latest installment covers the events of the CG movie and first two seasons of the series which aired on Cartoon Network in 2009, The Clone Wars. The series starts parallel to the end of Episode II and continues to air; logically, it will end during the last third of Episode III.
While pretty much everyone knows what happened in the movies, it may a bit hard to follow a lot of the story of the action (or indeed, appreciate much of the now-famous Lego-based humor) if you haven’t kept up with the (decidedly less popular) series or seen the (somewhat critically panned) movie. But as with previous games (and in a departure from the war-newsreel presentation of the series), a short text scroll-up of the establishing events of the current chapter is run upon its selection.
As with the actual movie and series, the main heroic characters, Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi, are the most familiar from the live-action movies, but three main villain characters are (in one case) introduced and (in the others) given new facets, and indeed the game’s episodes are built around them. The Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress seeks to pervert Anakin into whom he will eventually become, Darth Vader; the Separatist Leader Count Dooku reels from his loss at Geonosis but continues his Sith training under the mysterious Darth Sidious, and robot army General Grievous continues the campaigns of the Clone Wars in other systems, striving to take them for the Separatists.
While it may indeed be a bit obscure for those who haven’t thoroughly seen the series, the slapstick nature of the previous games shows through quite strongly in the cutscenes here, and even if you don’t know why something is happening, you’re likely to laugh at it. The graphics have received a major overhaul, resulting in everything looking much more realistic, organic, metallic, what have you – except, of course, for the minifigures you’ll control, who are, as always, really just dressed-up Lego people with extra abilities. And there are over a hundred of them to unlock!
For added replay value, bring along a friend for co-op! And, when you want to take a break from the story, you can explore the massive Republic and Separatist capital ships for more bonuses and the invaluable Red Power Bricks.
For fast action, epic battles and more of that Lego-based humor, you can’t go wrong with Lego Star Wars III. I give it five out of five stars!