There have been dozens of Lego-themed games in the past, but when Traveller's Tales took over and developed a Star Wars-themed Lego game, the series that starred yellow blocky-headed characters took off and has now spread across other popular franchises. Beginning with the prequel trilogy, Lego Star Wars was released in 2005 and made it in the top 10 best-selling games of the year. Five years later, TT games has decided to revisit the Star Wars universe and focus in on the Clone Wars series. We spoke to Andrew Bell, the co-project lead on Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars to find out what's new and what's familiar in this upcoming title.
GameSpot: What made you guys decide to approach the Star Wars franchise in this particular order?
Andrew Bell: Star Wars is a franchise that is constantly evolving, and the most current evolution of the brand is the Clone Wars series. What's great here is that the show wraps up a lot of action in shorter story arcs and is a natural step to gameplay. For example, the very first episode of the series, "Ambush," has Yoda and a group of clones using their weapons, as well as their wits, to defeat Ventress. You couldn't make an easier step to a Lego Star Wars level if you tried (and we did).
GS: The other Lego Star Wars games have been incredibly fun. Will there be any new features added or are you sticking with the same formula?
AB: There are a ton of new features that all build from what the fans are familiar with and more. For example, you still can use the Force, build Lego objects, solve puzzles, and laugh at the cutscenes that turn the Star Wars franchise on its head. But beyond that, we have added scene swap, the ability to control two teams in different areas to achieve a single goal; all sorts of new Force abilities, such as turning super battle droids into weapons and lightsaber throwing; and even an all-new mode where you are the general commanding the armies of the Republic or the CIS in single-player, two-player co-op, and even player versus player!
GS: What can Star Wars fans look for in this version?
AB: Star Wars fans will be pleased to know that we are encompassing the entire Clone Wars era. We start the story at the end of Attack of the Clones and include content from the Clone Wars movie and the first two seasons of the animated series. Beyond the story retold in a hilarious Lego world, Star Wars fans can expect to find many classic characters and tons of bonus content to keep them searching, collecting, and replaying the game for days.
GS: What is the process when it comes to breaking down the story and telling it in the silly Lego way?
AB: Right off the bat, we choose the stories from the Star Wars saga that work best with gameplay. From here, we find a way to connect these stories. In LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, we've gone chronological, so you'll be able to play the story levels in order of when they occur in the Star Wars canon. Once we have our story to tell, it's a matter of collecting the best scenes from the franchise and twisting them in a way that people don't expect. For example, when Mace Windu confronts Count Dooku in the Geonosian Arena, we start the massive battle in a very tongue-in-cheek and humorous way.
GS: What were the challenges to approaching this game?
AB: The biggest challenge was how to stay fresh while keying back in to what made the game fun in the first place. Fortunately, our partners at Traveller's Tales have been working diligently for the past few years on the technology that takes the visual fidelity and gameplay to a new level. Not only is this the best-looking and most action-packed LSW yet, but we also have massive battles with hundreds of enemies onscreen at once, and you can even explore the Lego Star Wars galaxy in 16 different systems.
GS: Are you able to use mostly original music? Or is the soundtrack redone?
AB: Because we're playing within the world of the Clone Wars television series, we wanted to make sure that the music matches what the fans have come to expect from the show. Toward that end, we've made sure to incorporate Kevin Kiner's original score from the Clone Wars episodes into the game wherever the stories and gameplay match up. We've also hired Academy Award-winning composer Chance Thomas to write additional comedic music for us to help give Anakin and Asoka's soundtrack the levity it needs in a Lego game.
GS: Can you reveal any characters that fans would be excited to know about at this point?
AB: We can't reveal everything quite yet, but you can be assured that many of your favorite characters will be making appearances, including Darth Vader.
GS: Thank you for your time!