Regardless of your feelings toward the movie Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars at least picks up at a point where most of the awkward moments have passed and the fun begins--although it would have been funny to see how Traveller's Tales would have interpreted the famous "I don't like sand" scene. The game's storyline encompasses the events of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and takes the Lego games to the next step. The gameplay, the unlockables, and the goofy sense of humor are all intact, and The Clone Wars looks to be doing a great job capturing the sheer size and scale of the battles that are seen in the television series.
The game begins in the battle arena on Geonosis where Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme have been sentenced to death by giant ugly creatures. You'll find a way out of this mess, however, by using the Force if you're playing as a Jedi or using Padme's blaster/grappling hook/whip combo. Mace Windu eventually shows up to help and provide lightsabers, and you'll immediately see just how chaotic these scenes can get when there are dozens of droids coming from all directions and an acklay trying to spear you with its enormous claw. Keep an eye out for blue Republic symbols on the ground when you fight as a Jedi, because they let you execute some cool moves that you normally wouldn't be able to do. There's also the ability to use the remote to aim and toss your lightsaber at an enemy from across the screen, and you can now use the Force to pick up super battle droids and use them to your advantage. Motion control is obviously limited to the Wii version of the game, but there is the option to play without the waggling. However, you will do more damage and earn more studs (Lego currency) by swinging the remote instead of mashing buttons.
Other than the grand scale and size of the areas, one new addition is the scene swap, where you'll have two characters or groups of characters playing in completely different locations. This is meant to mimic the scenes in Star Wars where the group members break off into separate missions but will eventually all meet again. By holding the C button down, you can jump to another part of the story and play it from that angle. Like in the recent Lego games, the dynamic split-screen is included, but if you're playing alone in scene swap, you can see what your other character is doing in the top right corner of the screen. In our demo, for example, we started off with Ahsoka and Rex, who have infiltrated a secret bunker, and Obi-Wan is perched on a flying LAAT (low-altitude attack transport) outside. Once Ahsoka and Rex encountered two droidekas with impenetrable shields, we switched over to Obi-Wan and used his turret to take out shield generators that were defending the base. With the shields down, the Jedi was able to make his way into the bunker but had to solve a few more puzzles before reuniting with the others.
To give us an idea of how epic some of these Clone Wars battles can be, we checked out a ground battle as well as a space battle. What's great is that anyone who played with Legos as a child must have dreamed about having intense space battles with tons of ships flying all over the place but were likely limited to a few sets to play with (or maybe this was just me). The Clone Wars does an excellent job of placing all these multicolored building blocks together into an elaborate set piece that is much too large to actually build yourself (or just way too expensive). The ground battles have multiple barracks, tanks, walkers, and other vehicles that you've seen throughout the saga, and there's so much going on at all times in the background and all around you. When you're in space, you're dodging and weaving across multiple planes to make your way to Malevolence, General Grievous' massive ship.
Throughout the game you'll come across structures that require a specific weapon type to get past. Gold barracks or fencing can be destroyed only with a rapid-fire weapon, whereas a silver structure needs something a bit more explosive. Several puzzles that you encounter will require you to figure out which weapon or vehicle or even clone to swap to in order to move on. We were told that eventually you will be able to build your own barracks and determine what kind of army to build to take out the opposition. At this point we can only imagine what kind of team we could assemble. On top of the story mode, you can complete challenges (playing from either side) that are set in the 16 systems of The Clone Wars. Other than the controls and the visuals, the Wii version of the game is identical to its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 counterparts.
For any Lego Star Wars fan, this looks to be another great addition to the series that includes enhancements that were made in previous Lego games. Now that the backgrounds are more realistic, it feels as though your characters have been transported to the Star Wars universe for you to play with, and you have the freedom to interact with or destroy any Lego pieces. We don't have a set release date for you yet, but we were told to expect Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars to be released sometime in March.