Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes
The last few years has seen a plethora of Lego titles, tackling such high profile properties as the original and new Star Wars trilogies, the Indiana Jones movies and even the Batman universe. It’s difficult for a kid-friendly 3D platformer not to take inspiration and borrow a few ideas from the popular series in some way. Sadly, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes – based on the recent Clone Wars animated-cartoon series – is a far cry from the comical fun experienced with those little yellow blocks.
Fans of the TV series are sure to be drawn in by Republic Heroes’ faithful aesthetics. It captures the look and feel of the show, with the over-exaggerated character designs and original cast lending their voice work to the game. The story feels like a bunch of lost episodes, and fans will be pleased to find a multitude of different characters, from fan favourites Anakin and Obi-Wan, to villains Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress, and even some of the lesser known characters, including the many Clone Troopers. Fans will definitely get a kick out of this stuff, but that’s where the fun begins to fade away.
The first thing you’ll notice is how bad it looks. Republic Heroes looks better suited to the PS2 with plenty of ugly low-res textures; jerky, lifeless animation and a lack of any eye-pleasing effects. It’s all extremely bland and plain looking with only a few bright sparks every now and then in the shape of some of the background action.
Disappointingly this is only the start of the problems. The campaign can be played alone or on local or online co-op. It’s split up into two distinct gameplay styles, using either Jedi’s or Clone Troopers over the eight, or so, hour adventure. Surprisingly it’s the Jedis that receive the blunt end of the lightsaber, with some frustrating platforming and repetitive combat. The platforming is billed as being guided, dropping you onto platforms so you can swiftly move through each environment with little trouble. In reality it’s a mess, causing plenty of unnecessary cheap deaths as the poor level design and terrible camera angles maliciously frustrate, time and time again. Unless you jump from the exact spot at the right angle you’ll fall to your death. But the fixed camera is placed in such a way that combined with the muddy and confusing visuals, it’s needlessly difficult to work out the angle of each jump, or even where you’re supposed to be vaulting to. Republic Heroes is supposed to be a kids game but they’ll easily give up after the umpteenth cheap death just like I felt like doing.
The combat isn’t much better. One button for lightsaber – with modifiers – another for force moves. It’s simple and that’s fine, but problems arise with the unresponsive controls. Stringing together combos is harder than it should be as your character slugs behind your button presses. None of this is helped by repetitive enemies and tactics for defeating them. Almost everything revolves around jumping on droids to clear a path, and doing this over and over in each level gets old extremely quickly.
The Clone Trooper action is mildly better. It plays out like a duel analogue shooter, and you can use cover to avoid enemy fire. It can be enjoyable in short bursts, but just like the Jedi sections it eventually gets tedious as you grind through each of Republic Heroes’ bland, uninspired levels.
Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes feels like a cheap cash-in to milk the Star Wars franchise around Christmas time. Kids will no doubt want it as a gift since they love the show, but they’ll be left disappointed and frustrated with the terrible platforming and tiresome combat. It’s just poorly designed and feels rushed for no apparent reason. I encountered myriad glitches during my time, including one game breaker, so it’s difficult to recommend this to anyone. The Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars video games, if you will.