Perhaps realising that the majority of older Star Wars fans were no longer going to mindlessly splash their cash on all things Star Wars, Lucasarts decided to focus on a largely untapped and far less discerning audience for their follow-up projects kids. And thus the Clone Wars TV series was born, and now to the immense joy of very few, a video-game of the TV series has been released. Can Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes restore some of the former glory to the Star Wars name, or will it be another Phantom Menace sized nail in the coffin instead?
For those familiar with the Clone Wars TV series, Republic Heroes is set in the time between the first and second seasons. Throughout the course of the game, players play as many different Jedi (Anakin, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan and Mace Windu among others) and multiple clone troopers including Clone Captain Rex, as the story plays out from many different viewpoints. The adventure takes players to four different worlds; Ryloth, Juma-9, Alzoc III and Behpour as the Jedi attempt to hunt down and stop the evil Seperatists and restore peace to the galaxy. This will be no easy task as a seemingly endless droid army along with the likes of Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress, bounty-hunter Cad Bane and an evil Skakoan newcomer - Kul Teska all stand in the way.
There is no online play in Republic Heroes, though the game is designed for local two-player drop-in/drop-out gameplay, meaning a friend can join you at any time. If you're playing on your own then the second character will be AI-controlled throughout the game. Often during levels players will come across mini-games where they will compete against each other to score most points by destroying droids in a particular way or by acquiring the most points orbs in the time provided. These minigames provide an entertaining distraction from the main quest.
Unfortunately for fans, Republic Heroes is a game with many flaws. The most obvious of these is the immovable camera and strange angles it defaults to. The camera moves in and out on the action, panning back to offer players a better view of the surrounds, but a large majority of the game is played at such long-range that your character is often indistinct amongst the droid armies you're fighting. Your only option then, is to try to pull off a distinctive move in the hopes of locating your hero. Enemy characters almost seem aware of the camera's limitations and will occasionally hover right at the edge of the camera's reach. Not only are these enemies hard to locate, but they are difficult to dispatch as the game struggles to register hits to almost off-camera enemies.
Another problem with the platforming sections is the varying level of precision required. Often when the character performs a jump they are gently guided in the correct direction for a safe and easy landing. However there are times, seemingly at random, when the game withdraws this help. At these times the game arbitrarily decides that a single jump will no longer cut it, and you must double-jump in order to be guided to the next platform. This is often independent of the distance between jumps, and will also vary mid-section double-jumping each time is just as likely to lead to your death as single-jumping was. It turns out you may need to double-jump twice in a row, then single jump once, before double-jumping to safety. There doesn't appear to be any logic to it, you just have to jump and hope. Luckily there is next to no penalty for death you don't lose any points and re-spawn points are plentiful. Which is just as well because there are other little glitches that will lead to other deaths beyond your control like the one where your Jedi decides to to run a few steps after landing a jump, often straight off a cliff, or the one where they refuse to grab the ledge you're jumping towards, or the most comical one where your character is re-spawned off-screen and over a cliff. The latter only happened once, but it still meant the game had to be quit and the level restarted. Speaking of restarting, on two other occasions I reached a point where the game failed to register that an area was complete and thus would not load the next cut-scene to progress the action. In both instances I had to quit to the main menu and restart the level. Although most levels are short, this reeks of a game rushed through testing.
The voice-acting in Republic Heroes is done very well, and much of the banter, particularly between Anakin and Ahsoka is entertaining if not exactly humorous. All of the voices are done by their TV series counterparts which will please fans of the show. The sound effects and much of the music is lifted straight from the movies meaning light-sabres sound as you'd expect, and the John Williams theme-music remains intact. Overall the sound is definitely Republic Heroes' strongest point, though it must be said that Yoda, with his ever-present tutorial assistance, is annoying throughout.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes is, for the most part, a poor game. The immovable camera is annoying throughout and often provides a viewpoint as far away from the action as any game I've ever played. The fact that seemingly innocuous jumps can cause multiple deaths courtesy of the camera, as well as the lack of consistency in help the game provides for jumping between platforms are further frustrations. The action gets repetitive quickly and puzzles are often repeated ad nauseum; jumping onto and commandeering droids to open up the next pathway being the most apparent of these. There's nothing here that is new or innovative, and unless you're a huge fan of the TV series there's no reason to consider purchasing this game.
Review By: Mike Allison