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Q4 2002



- Some great Star Wars battles

- Snappy control

- Power-ups for beginners

- Mid-mission save points

- Moving the action outside the vehicles is a nice touch (but see below)



- 3rd person fighting outside vehicle is barely mediocre



Review: Star Wars: Clone Wars (Gamecube)

Review: Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (Playstation 2)

Review: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (XBox)



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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Score: 7.5 / 10


Some of the best scenes of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones come in the closing 20 minutes with the massive battle scenes on Geonosis.  First with the Jedi surprise attack then the titanic battle outside the arena.  If you don’t recall the scenes (unlikely) or haven’t seen the film (go see it at IMAX!), playing through the opening levels of The Clone Wars (TCW) is like going through those last 20 minutes.  Although, TCW has its weaknesses, its biggest strength is that it simulates some extremely intense and action-packed Star Wars battles.


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Most Star Wars vehicle combat games (SWVCG), put you in the seat of the latest winged contraptions hurtling through space.  TCW instead concentrates on surface battles – most of your time is spent steering a highly maneuverable Republic Fighter Tank or the handles-like-a-whale-in-molasses Republic Gunship (armed with some of the most awesome weaponry ever).


You also get a chance to run around outside the vehicles but these sections are thankfully short.  Thankfully, because they handle like you’re still in a vehicle and you have to manage with only a minimum of Jedi powers: Force Push and Saber Throw.  I have to admit I liked this touch as it rounds out the experience somewhat, but its implementation is half-hearted, mediocre at best, even when it could have clearly added much to TCW.  As it is, it only really heightens one mission.  The real strength is the vehicle combat.





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In the single-player campaign, you assume the role of a few different Jedi – Mace Windu, Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker – as you track down Count Dooku after the Battle of Geonosis as he seeks out a powerful Sith artifact.  The search takes you all over the galaxy and even to Kashyyk – Wookie territory – where you get to race Endor-style with potential trunkification at every turn.  Many of the locales and levels prove to be a blast to play through, even ones that continually smuck you over the head.



The basics of SWVCG are also present.  Like Rogue Squadron (GC) and the Starfighter series, there are bonus objectives during each mission needed to be completed in order to unlock all the extras, and a smattering of wingman commands.


There are three difficulty settings: Padawan, Jedi Knight, and Jedi Master.  The challenge of each should be enough to keep you playing for quite a while; however, with a little practice or experience with other SWVCG some levels can be walked through.  This is thanks to the power-ups littered about like confetti at a wedding.  Taking heavy damage in an encounter?  Don’t sweat it because it’s almost certain there’s a health restore around the corner.  Needless to say, if you’re into the more sim-like Star Wars experiences (like X-Wing or TIE-Fighter) or even the more forgiving games (like Starfighter), you’re reaction might be quite mixed.  Some are sure to be annoyed by the power-ups rather than thankful for them.  (Remember, picking them up is optional.)  Most of the challenge doesn’t come from trying to avoid death but from meeting time limits and actually supplying cover fire and escort for your forces so they survive.


The problem with many Star Wars games has been their inability to replicate large-scale battles.  TCW doesn’t suffer from that problem at all.  It moves at a very even pace with only a few instances of pop-in or graphical stuttering.  But these never seem to happen at critical moments. (Normally, I wouldn’t even mention it but as a reviewer I have to pick nits and be as anal retentive as possible.)  TCW captures the manic intensity of the large-scale encounters easily.


clone-wars-3.jpg (46395 bytes)          clone-wars-5.jpg (36737 bytes)


Just for the heck of it a few multiplayer games have been included. Duel and Control Zone are variations on the basic Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, respectively.  Conquest and Jedi Academy offer a bit more variation, Conquest more so as it plays out like a RTS, which can be a lot of fun and surprisingly addictive.  But a two-player campaign might have been a better route as you ride with a buddy for nearly the entire game anyway.  Still, credit where credit is due...


Star Wars: The Clone Wars offers fans of SWVCG another welcome foray into the mythology surrounding the Star Wars universe.  The half-hearted addition of the vehicle-less battles should have either been dropped altogether or made more integral to gameplay (like being able to exit the vehicle when you want) subtracts from the overall score.  However, it succeeds enough in what it does with the massive battles that it still ranks as a good addition to the pantheon of SWVCG.


- Omni

(February 9, 2003)

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