Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels
Strictly for the younger half of the fandom.
Star Wars the Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels is strictly for the younger half of the fandom, the kids who are still awed by the rise and fall of Anakin and the antics of Jar Jar Binks, God help them.
- A solid roster of fighters to choose from, good (albeit shallow) fun
- Won't appeal to older Star Wars fans, battles between experienced Jedi Masters amount to a lot of waving the Wii remote to and fro
If the Clone Wars branding wasn't enough of a clue, a quick play session quickly confirms the game's intended audience. Younglings will revel in the simple-but-engaging battle system that casts them as their favourite Jedi (or Sith) and more experienced, curmudgeonly Jedi Knights will moan about the blind slashing, the cartoon-grade dialogue and their aches and pains.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
The concept behind Star Wars the Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels is pretty obvious. Based on 2008's computer animated movie (aesthetically and plotwise), players take on the role of familiar faces like Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, each armed with a lightsaber. Or two, or four. What follows is a lot of Wii remote waggling and Force-pushing until one player is cut down.
Lightsaber Duels ticks off most of the boxes on the "Standard Fighter Features" form: single players can fight the computer or play through the campaign mode, which follows the movie's plot through cutscenes and stops for battles at all of the proper junctions. Single players also have the option of completing "challenges" ("Defeat Obi-Wan in a training session" and whatnot). Of course, multiplayer is the star of the show. Each character has his or her signature moves, combos and repertoire of, er, quips.
A tutorial walks the player through the basic controls, which work as expected. Slashing up delivers a neon-trailed uppercut, just as slashing the Wii remote side to side does what it's supposed to. Linking motions can perform special movies and combos and the trigger buttons can employ the Force if the Force Meter, which fills slowly on its own, is feeling up to it.
In the tutorial, Anakin warns his Padawan Ahsoka Tano against "just waving" her lightsaber in front of her. It's obviously a message to the player, but let's face it: have Wii remote, will waggle. It's not to say the controls are inaccurate; they're not perfect, but the on-screen character generally mimics the appropriate motions. However, going to the trouble of remembering combo-swipes and searching for rocks and boxes to Force-lob at an opponent isn't worth it for the minimal amount of damage caused. Lightsaber Duels doesn't reward strategy over wild dancing and even changing characters is inconsequential. Some fighters do demand the adoption of a different strategy (General Grievous can't use the Force) and each character has strengths and weaknesses, but it comes down to one Jedi feeling the same as another.
Which is where the age divide comes in. Kids will have a blast with this modern-day update of the "lightsaber" (dead branch) battles 20- and 30-somethings had as children. Those grownups, on the other hand, won't get much out of Lightsaber Duels regardless of the nostalgia factor. In fact, an extended session with the game gets pretty rough on the arm and wrist.
The character models in Star Wars the Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels are close to what's found in the movie. This makes them difficult to rate. As far as the transition from movie to game goes, the graphics are well done. The downside is that it's hard to praise stylistic choices that give Count Dooku a face like a basset hound's. The animation is nicely done, with individual character traits — such as Dooku's confident one-handed fighting stance — giving the otherwise vanilla-flavoured fights some style.
The music involves John Williams' standard heroic space trumpets and the voice acting is decent, even if the script is about as deep as the fighting system. The voices can be turned off in favor of subtitles, but there are no subtitles for in-game text, which often makes characters look like they're chewing gum in each others' faces.
At least the clear age divide between Episodes I through III and Episodes IV through VI makes it easy to figure out whether or not you want to pick up Lightsaber Duels. The shallow fighting system, the teenage snark and animation won't impress older fans of the series, but it's good fun for younger Jedis in training.
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