Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars picks up just before the main action sequence of Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The player begins as Mace Windu, working to infiltrate Geonosis ahead of the combined forces of the Jedi and the Republic.
Anyone who's familiar with prior LucasArts releases such as Rogue Squadron or Jedi Starfighter will feel right at home with Clone Wars. The controls, HUD and play style are all very similar in the singleplayer mode. When you begin the game, each mission has specific goals you must meet in order to advance. You are also given bonus goals, which unlock various goodies when met. Also, like the original Starfighter, the player will cycle through the game as various characters, such as Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
This is an all-ground based game, so don't look for fighter ships or space battles here. Instead, you'll be driving the various war machines of Episode II, including Trade Federation tanks and Republic gunships. Occasionally, you will be on foot, mowing down battle droids and Geonosians alike with your lightsaber.
The graphics are well-done, but as the game is a port from other consoles, it's not up to the Xbox's capabilities. Some of the textures have been enhanced, and this can be seen especially on the multiplayer maps.
The actors do a reasonable job of recreating the voices of Mace, Obi-Wan and Anakin. There is vocal interaction that both propels the story and clues the player in what has to be done next.
As always, LucasArts has the controls nailed down very well. The A button is primary fire, X is secondary fire, Y allows for target zooming and B is for special abilities, such as boost for when driving a tank. The triggers allow for strafing to the left and right, which also helps control the steering, which is done with the left thumbstick. The right thumbstick is used to position the camera, but I found that to be hardly used.
Even if a LucasArts game has issues, you can never find fault with the music and sound. Tracks from both trilogies are used as the background music and to great effect. Thanks to the extensive film sound library, explosions, laser fire and missile concussions all sound fantastic.
With the addition of Xbox Live capabilities, players have to finish the singleplayer mode in order to unlock maps that can be used with Live. In addition, you may want to consider replaying missions with higher difficulty levels and to complete the bonus goals.
For those players who have asked for a better interface for XBL, their call has been answered. Once you sign onto Live, you will notice a difference setting this above all others. The menus are clean, with lots of information. The Friends list gives detailed information about where the players are, as it pertains to what game, if they are playing, if the game in joinable, and if their voice is activated. It even goes so far to tell you that an invite is accepted if you have sent one to someone who is in another game. Hosting a game is easy, giving you the speed of your connection and the recommended amount of players that you should allow to join. There is one really cool feature that has not been seen yet. Take the communicator adapter out of the controller, and then listen. You will hear your friends talking through the TV. This can be especially useful when you are running to the other end of the house to grab a drink waiting for a game to start. You wouldn't want them to be talking smack while you are away.
The game modes cater to a wide range of tastes. The normal deathmatch, called Duel, is available if you just want to shoot it out. Looking for more of a challenge? Try Control Zone, pitting you against the other players to take control and hold a designated place on the map. Academy is very interesting, where players compete to score points as waves of enemies enter the gauntlet. When a fixed amount of waves are complete, the players can then duel. You are not eliminated until one of the AI units takes you out. Probably the mode you will hear most about is Conquest. Taking an entirely different path from other games you've seen on Live, you are broken into teams to play with a real time strategy bout. Players build up outposts, AI units, man various canons and missile launchers, and defend their base, with the ultimate goal to destroy their enemy's base.
Gameplay is very smooth, especially considering how much is taking place on the map at once. The only drawback to the Live experience is not being allowed to have a guest play with you. There is not option for this, nor can two accounts run on the same Xbox. If you want to play this title with your friends, sorry, they will need to have their own box.
The multiplayer local is much like it is on Live, except you will be splitting the screen with your friends. As we all know this has its pros and cons. You can play with up to four people splitscreen. Downside is that cutting the screen lessens the detail, as well as allows your enemies to see what you are doing. But this is nothing out of the ordinary since you make sacrifices with all multiplayer games.
Clone Wars is an excellent game, living up to much of the hype it was given. Especially if you are a Star Wars fan, this one is a keeper. What makes many of the games more attractive is the Live capabilities where this game does not fall short, often excelling over the competition. Not being able to have a guest log in with you, nor being able to run two XBL accounts of the same box, is a slight problem. The lobby interface is great, probably the best yet for a Live game. With downloadable content in the near future you will be given a new revival to maps and vehicles you can play with.
(Jody Reeves has discovered that her true calling in life is to be on Xbox Live every night and help David along with his big wheelin'.)
(David Ruchalski is a Star Wars fanatic, highly addicted to playing online games with Jody. Clone Wars lets him get in his big wheel & wreck havoc on Geonosis, one of his secret fantasies.)
(Screenshots from official
website used by permission of Lucasfilm.)