Hands-on Star Wars: The Clone Wars multiplayer

We try out the multiplayer component of LucasArts' upcoming Xbox game.

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We recently had an opportunity to check out the multiplayer component of LucasArts' upcoming Xbox version of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The Xbox version of the game will feature the same content as the GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions released last year, but it will also boast enhanced graphics and new multiplayer features exclusive to the console.

The game features the same multiplayer modes found in the previous incarnations on the GameCube and PlayStation 2: duel, control zone, conquest, and Jedi academy. Duel is basically a deathmatch mode that lets you pit the game's various vehicles--and their skills--against each other. Control zone is a king-of-the-hill-style mode in which you'll gradually earn points by occupying a designated area and fending off any would-be encroachers. Conquest is a team-based game that pits the Republic's forces against the separatists' forces. You can capture outposts, which in turn build AI-controlled units that you can control using the game's simple command interface. The object is to eventually destroy the other team's base. Finally, Jedi academy is a cooperative survival mode that pits players against wave after wave of enemies.

As enjoyable as the modes in the previous versions were, LucasArts and developer Pandemic have gone the extra mile to ensure the Xbox game offers the best multiplayer experience yet, thanks to the addition of system link and Xbox Live support. Star Wars: The Clone Wars will let you play in any of the modes with up to eight players over Xbox Live or a LAN. While we weren't able to try out the Xbox Live functionality, we were able to play a system-link game that gave us a taste of what to expect.

The addition of eight-player support adds quite a bit to the game's appeal, as you'll find that the extra players add a level of unpredictability that keeps multiplayer matches fresh. We were also pleased to see that the conquest mode had been tweaked slightly to encourage team play. Essentially, you'll be able to dock at the various outposts and take command of the ground forces they create. By coordinating with your team via the Xbox Live headset, it's possible to have your team cover you while you dock and issue commands, which leaves you vulnerable to assault. We were also pleased to see the game give hosting players the option to decide whether or not voice masking will be allowed in their game.

Another impressive Xbox Live feature the game will support is downloadable content. While LucasArts reps were a bit cagey about the specifics, it sounds like Clone Wars will let players download new multiplayer maps for the game at some point in the future.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a promising game that should satisfy Xbox owners. The single-player game is fun and challenging, and the multiplayer modes are a blast to play on- or offline. For more on Star Wars: The Clone Wars on the Xbox, check out our interview with the game's producer here.

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