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May 5, 2005
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
5/5/2005EA GamesThe Collective1-2M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
70KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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One of the General's guards.
Just as night follows day there was no doubt that LucasArts would develop plenty of Star Wars games ready to be unleashed as George Lucas finally releases his last Star Wars movie into cinemas around the world. Actually that's a little incorrect. You see in a rather surprising move LucasArts handed development of this years biggest movie tie-in to The Collective - the same company that developed Indiana Jones & The Emperor's Tomb and Wrath Unleashed on the PS2.

But my oh my how hard it was for me to review a game knowing that it gives away almost every major plot sequence from the upcoming movie. Still, thatís the nature of the business and the price of running a gaming web site I guess. I'll try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible - but there will be some small details so if you want to remain absolutely spoiler free your best off reading this review after seeing the movie.

Let's start with the storyline (this is the paragraph some of you may wish to skip). Episode III: Revenge of the Sith takes place at the conclusion of the Clone Wars which began at the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and were detailed in the Clone Wars cartoon series. The third movie is dominated by Anakin's turn to the dark side and transformation into Darth Vader. Along the way friends become enemies, and a hell of a lot of characters - including many Jedi - won't make it through unscathed. What makes this game even more interesting is that it doesn't just show the events in the movie but in many cases either expands on them, or includes sections removed from the final edit. A prime example of this is Obi-Wan needing to battle his way off the planet Utapau while in the movie he simply stealths himself away after encountering General Grievous.

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Fighting side by side.
As expected the Episode III game is primarily a third person action title split across 16 levels. The control scheme is fairly intuitive - X to jump, square for fast attack, triangle for strong attack, circle to perform a critical attack or specialised actions such as force jumps, cutting through doors and so on. The L1 button is used to block - and believe me you'll have to use this a bit - L2 allows you to throw your light saber, R1 is Force Push and Grasp and finally the R2 is the Force Stun and Lightning. It may see a bit daunting but it's pretty easy and soon enough you'll be combining buttons to form some stunning combos. During the main story mode you play as either Anakin Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi depending on the mission. As in the movie the two Jedi use a light saber as their primary weapon, but can also use kicks or force powers to disable enemies. One neat addition is the ability to upgrade each characters powers as the game progresses by assigning experience points earned during battles. It's up to you. Do you upgrade a characters ability with the light saber, or the force powers? Is being able to heal yourself during battle more important. It's your choice.

The developers have also included 2-player support in Episode III to keep your friends occupied. The first of these modes is the Versus mode which allows you to compete one-on-one in a dual to the end. It's possible to select the character (which includes pretty much all the main enemies in the game), the arena and the number of rounds. Perhaps even more exciting is the cooperative mode in which two people (or one and a CPU controlled character) must complete the missions together.

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This is a classic moment...
The Collective have also included quite a few extras in the game. As you complete sections of the main story mode side missions open up which are missions played with characters other then Anakin and Obi-Wan. The developers have also includes a wonderful artwork gallery which brief descriptions on what you are looking at, and if it was in the final movie. A video gallery is also accessible so you can look at all the clips from the movie.

Unfortunately my biggest issue with Episode III is the constantly respawning enemies. It's so annoying to defeat some battle droids only to have a couple more instantly appear from a tunnel which you can't travel down. The game is also fairly easy until you come to some of the bosses which will have you ripping your hair out. The main story mode can be completed in about 8 hours or so which is a little on the short side - there are certainly other parts which could have been included - how about some space battle sequences for the opening? Fortunately the previously mentioned extras such as 2-player mode and side missions add longevity to the title.

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Using the force powers.
Now we reach the graphics which is an area of such opposites. To tell the story the developers have used 12 minutes of footage from the final film, and have also included at least that again in cut-scenes rendered just for the game. It fair to say that the film footage is superb - not quite DVD quality mind you - but it really gives you an sense of how awesome the final movie will look. Sadly, the rendered cuts scenes aren't nearly as exciting with very average character models and some fairly rough animation in places.

Episode III's in-game graphics are also a bit of a mixed bag. The developers, with access to the movie sets and production art have re-created the locations in the movie perfectly with some stunning backdrops to the action - some of the views outside the capital ships early in the game are very impressive and often distracted me from the on- screen action. Another big positive is the character animation. Anakin and Obi-Wan both deserve special attention with the development team even spending time with Nick Gillard, the stunt coordinator, and Hayden Christianson to perfect the moves. The one-on-one light saber battles really are as spectacular as in the movies with bits of scenery being destructable and unrelenting enemies. Then we come to the negatives for in-game graphics. At times the camera angle lets you down with enemies attacking you from off-screen and angle changes resulting in your character heading in the wrong direction as you adjust to the new controller angles. This was particularly noticeable in one scene on Utaptu where you are trying to avoid fire from gun turrents as you run around the outside of a building. Also some of the texturing is pretty horrible. The textures when droids get cut in half are quite poorly done.

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Roger, roger.
Fortuately, and as expected, the sound in Episode III is nothing short of superb. The music and effects are taken straight from the movie with the assistance from Skywalker Sound. The Dolby Pro Logic II surround use is fairly good. If there is one small niggle it's the speech which includes some very corny lines which seem to be a part of the Star Wars universe but even more annoying is the repetitive speech during the levels. There's some points where you just want them to shut up so you can concentrate on the action on screen. Overall though the sound in this game, as with most Star Wars games, is very solid indeed.

Truth be told I wasn't expecting a great title in Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith, and as expected the game fall short of being brilliant. Having said that as a movie tie-in this game is one of the better ones with entertaining gameplay and most importantly new missions and locations not seen in the final movie. Certainy a game which all Star Wars fans should check out.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSGraphics aren't fantastic, but capture the Star Wars universe well.
SOUNDSkywalker Sound strikes again with rousing music and effects.
GAMEPLAYA little bit to much droid killing kills some fun, but overall good.
VALUEIt's not a long game but will take some time to find everything.
OVERALLStar Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a good movie tie-in, certainly one of the better ones in recent years. Some more variety would have been nice and graphics could be better but overall a solid game which fans will enjoy.

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