When the Sith hits the fan.
Watch out galaxy, the Sith are back. That "mysterious hooded figure" is calling the evil shots again and his newest flunky, Count Dookie, is running around the galaxy wreaking havoc on a titanic scale. Is destroying or enslaving all sentient life that important? Is the Dark side really that powerful? Do any of those Sith guys realize how badly Yoda could kick their ass? Sounds like there's one sinister organization out there that just doesn't know what kind of poodoo it stepped in. Oh well, let's just call in our Jedi heroes and undo the knot in their evil tighty whiteys!
Star Wars: The Clone Wars, LucasArts' newest Star Wars vehicular romp for the Gamecube, puts players in the boots of Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi on a quest to stop Count Dooku from resurrecting an ancient Sith weapon of mass destruction. Similar in style to the ever-popular Rogue Leader, The Clone Wars goes from the air to the ground and lets players experience the battle from the various planetary vehicles of Episode II. From Fighter Tanks to the reptile-like AT-TE Assault Walker, you'll plow through tons of enemy forces using more laser cannons and concussion missiles than you can shake a lightsaber at.
The game begins where Episode II ended. You'll start off as Mace Windu and lead the Jedi forces into the arena on Geonosis to rescue Amidala, Skywalker and Kenobi. From there you'll race off to several planets including Hoth-like Rhen Var and the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk to chase down the Separatists.
For the most part, the game plays just like Rogue Leader or really any of the other recent Star Wars shooters. You complete missions on each level, including some bonus missions that will unlock goodies in the game.
The best feature of The Clone Wars is undoubtedly the variety of vehicles. In addition to the vehicles I mentioned earlier, players will also get to swoop around in speeder bikes, pound the ground with a AT-XT Assault Walker and take to the skies in a Republic Gunship. And believe it or not, there are even more vehicles to control! You'll also occasionally run around on foot using the kinds of Jedi powers we got to see in Star Wars: Obi Wan, though it's not remotely as robust as that game.
Controlling these vehicles is simple and easy thanks to an efficient control scheme, but some problems pop up during the missions on foot. Movement is twitchy and a "jump" command seems to have been neglected. Guess the forces of gravity are stronger than the Force.
Another problem arises during the game's more intense moments. Clone Wars shows off some great battle scenes with tons of foot troops, vehicles and endless streams of laser fire, but to my disappointment, the frame rate just can't keep up. Just imagine a chaotic battle raging around you that all of the sudden comes to a screeching halt. I've seen geriatric Hutts move faster than this. The slowdown doesn't occur too often, but it does happen during some of the best battles and takes away from the frantic action.
Most of the game looks pretty good, but it still doesn't quite match the detail that knocked our socks off in Rogue Leader. The only really evil thing that stands out here is the poor graphical quality of the sentients. In-game renderings of the characters just don't match the higher quality look of the vehicles and environments and the CG versions of them have a rubbery shine.
Sound is also a mix of good and bad. The classic Star Wars score and more music from the film is here and, as usual, it all rocks. With Dolby surround and a good set of speakers, just crank this bad boy up for the some of the best music this side of Jabba's throne room. The effects are also well done and take you right into the heart of battle. But on the Dark side, we've got some surprisingly lame voice acting. Now don't get me wrong - I've heard plenty of games with worse voice acting jobs than this, but the crew that handles the voices of these well-known Star Wars characters doesn't even come close to the original sound. Cut-scenes really lose their luster when we've got to listen to stand-ins that can't play the part.
After the war is won, you'll find plenty of extras lying around on the battlefield. There's a 1-4 person multiplayer game that's very similar to Star Wars Demolition. Four different types of games are available, including Deathmatch, a King of the Hill game and a cool 2 vs. 2 Conquest game. You'll also find a 'Making Of' documentary and some art sketches among the unlockable bonuses. Not a bad way to round out the game.
The Clone Wars may have sprung from the same midichlorians as Rogue Squadron, but it fails to capture the same excitement as its classic predecessor. Filled to the brim with equally good and frustrating bits, this War turns out just like any other.