Having chronicled the two trilogies of live-action Star Wars movies, Lego Star Wars is setting its sights on the animated Clone Wars series for its next installment. Lego Star Wars III will follow the entire arc of the Clone Wars series. We visited LucasArts at E3 to check out a gameplay demo and saw Yoda and a few clone soldiers team up to vanquish a good number of Lego foes. Aside from new abilities and new enemies, we were impressed by the graphical overhaul that lends the environments a more realistic look while highlighting the Lego characters and making them look crisp and vibrant. Add in the possibility of large-scale battles featuring hundreds of clone soldiers, and Lego Star Wars III appears to be on track to upholding the series' good name.
The marquee character in our demo was Yoda, who was boasting a different look based on the new set of actual Legos. He also showed off some new Force moves, like throwing his lightsaber as a projectile and taking out a few enemies. Force grab made an appearance as well, and at one point Yoda picked up an enemy robot and held him aloft, causing him to fire down on his own allies. But Yoda wasn't the only one with new moves, because the different clone soldiers each carried different weapons with different applications. The rocket launcher has obvious destructive capabilities, and the Z-6 rotary blaster cannon (read: laser chaingun) was not only handy for dispatching groups of enemies, but was also the weapon of choice for heating up a growth of black Lego pieces. Under sustained fire, these pieces glowed red and eventually exploded, showering the ground with those oh-so-collectible Lego studs.
The growth of black Legos in this case looked like a tall growth of coral. This resemblance was reinforced by the environment surrounding it, which featured tall, colorful stalks of near-lifelike coral. While there was a stark difference between the Lego elements and the realistic elements, the overall visual aesthetic was cohesive. Getting the two different styles to complement each other doesn’t seem like an easy task, but LucasArts and Traveller's Tales appear to have managed it quite well. The lighting seems to play a large part in achieving this effect, unifying the at-odds visuals with consistent, attractive sunlight and shadows.
Once the baddies on the planet were vanquished and we were treated to a taste of the series' signature humor (a soldier using his own severed arm to shield himself from attack and subsequently beat enemies down), our demo headed off-planet for a taste of Lego Star War III's space battles. The sequence began in what appeared to be an A-wing as the player fought off enemies, dodged lasers, and blasted targets of opportunity on the General Grievous' massive flagship, Malevolence. We saw the fighter land inside an open hangar and commandeer a missile battery, and then blast open a whole new side of the ship and destroy the enemies hidden within. It seemed easy to move seamlessly between flight and ground combat in this section, and again, the realistic ship siding and twinkling stars contrasted nicely with the Lego ships and soldiers scurrying about.
The final segment of the demo took place near the end of a hunt for General Grievous. Instead of encountering the multi-limbed fiend, our heroes ran afoul of his pet roggwart, Gor. This nasty beast epitomized the graphic duality of Lego Star Wars III; scaly brown lizard skin hugged its substantial musculature, while Lego appendages and armor provided menacing targets. By tethering the beast down using ropes, the clone soldiers were able to open up a window for Yoda to slash off the threatening limbs. Though our demoer performed these feats by rapidly switching between characters, Lego Star Wars III will once again feature a fully cooperative campaign. If taking down a hideous space monster is satisfying by yourself, it's bound to be even more enjoyable with two players.
Though there wasn't much more in the way of action in our demo, we did get a few good tidbits of information to tide us over until the next showing. In addition to 20 story missions, Lego Star Wars III will allow you to explore 16 different systems in Anakin Skywalker's flagship, the Resolute. Furthermore, it will also feature some of the large-scale battles from the Clone Wars series, putting you in the role of a Jedi general in charge of legions of clones in conflicts that involve hundreds of soldiers. With the game already looking sharp, we're eager to see how it scales up to portray these massive conflicts. Be sure to keep an eye on GameSpot for more information on those massive battles in the coming months.