The LEGO Star Wars franchise boils down to three things, more or less. One, a geyser of riotously hued objects to plough through, smash, scoop up and exchange for characters, modes and vehicles. Two, a consequence-free mix of thrashy combat and wafer-thin puzzles, too bloodless by half for solo players but pitch perfect for same-sofa co-op. And three, a refreshingly irreverent take on the overbearing Star Wars fiction, trading Anakin's wooden scowl for a delightful plasticky grimace. The Clone Wars is true to its predecessors in all these respects, but it adds something else: a taste for the epic.
Firing up the first area, you're confronted with hundreds of trudging Separatist robots, laser blades glinting in the heart of the mob as the Jedi do their thing. Later, shenanigans erupt near a monstrous star cruiser, lumps of ship peeling away to reveal new play areas as you sniff out and blast purple weak points (the sense of scale is especially appreciable when you spot your co-op partner trotting over the hull far below).
Battlefront-ish skirmishes on terra firma see players zipping around aboard trikes, walkers and alien wildebeest, disabling shield generators and siege cannons. Besides vastly increased numbers of animated models, the threequel is conspicuous for its glorious new lighting system, which lends a gothic feel to those tin-foil interiors.
The Battlefront comparisons carry over into multiplayer, where Traveller's Tales has taken a few cues from the action-RTS. Whether the objective is to escape a planet by constructing a rocket pod, batter statues or simply wipe each other off the map, the formula is the same: capture bases by moving near them, conjure up facilities with your studs, and hope the other player doesn't mincemeat the troopers they spawn before his own bases succumb.
It's far from compelling but the main campaign takes up the slack, though there are rough bits here too - not enough guidance from the level designers at intervals, and sticky controls when switching characters.
The Clone Wars is no bold new chapter for the evergreen franchise, but give it five minutes and you'll be clashing sabers with merry abandon. The Force is sort of all right with this one.
A clone, but a good one
- Family-friendly basics remain fun
- Packs cinematic punch
- Stuffed with content and lore
- Multiplayer misfires