Title  : Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Platforms  : Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube
Publisher  : LucasArts
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 7.7
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Based on only a handful of movies, LucasArts has created dozens of video games. Add to that mix Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a PlayStation 2 and GameCube game based on Episode II. (PS2 version reviewed here) 

The Clone Wars is a land-based shooting game, similar to the GameCube game Rogue Leader. The Clone Wars begins in the closing scenes of the film, and follows the various campaigns that reveal a dark movement by the Sith Lords. Though this plot discards the disjointed nature of Rogue Leader, it also offers less variety of setting, though there is still a good mix of action. 

In each of the 16 levels, gamers play as Jedi Knights such as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Mace Windu, piloting five unique craft or hoofing it. The vehicles are mostly underpowered, leaving the Jedi to more often play the role of caravan guard than they do take the offensive. Even given these objectives, Clone Wars will tax player's abilities to strafe and take damage; sometimes one's best recourse is to admit their skills are more aligned with the Padawan difficulty setting, and not Jedi Master. 

Collision detection is hit-or-miss, and needs improvement regardless. While many structures can be flown through without harm to the player's vehicle, the slightest contact with enemy craft or terrain will instantly, jerkily reorient the player in a seemingly random direction. Given the high-speed maneuverability of the vehicles, this obstacle can quickly distance the gamer from his goal, producing a frustrating failure. 

An uncommon feature of recent Star Wars games makes its return with Clone Wars' multiplayer mode. Several action- and strategy-based styles allow two (on the PlayStation) to four (GameCube) players to flex their Force. This mode is mostly simple, though the ability to unlock additional maps by achieving bonus objectives in the one-player mode provides an occasional new battlefield to test. 

Whatever the playing field, the graphics succeed in various degrees. The scenes from the movie are accurately depicted, with massive starships falling under assault and crashing into the ground. But much action occurs haltingly, as though the game is running at a low resolution, or has trouble animating so many icons at once. The characters are true to their movie counterparts, though none the film's voice actors are responsible for the game's similar-sounding voice acting. Variations on John Williams' heroic themes flesh out the soundtrack. 

To get The Clone Wars, you could take Rogue Leader, make it a prequel, remove the space battles and well-known epic settings, diminish the graphics a bit, and add multiplayer modes. If that doesn't add up to ringing endorsement, well, it's not supposed to. Clone Wars is a fun Star Wars game, and expands on, rather than re-creates, the events of the films, but lacks some fun and mysticism of the series. PlayStation 2 owners may find themselves satisfied, but GameCube gamers will find the Force stronger elsewhere.


This article is copyright (c) 2003, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 06-Jan-03