Star Wars The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance Updated Hands-On

Control your lightsaber and just about everything else with the swipe of a stylus.

The tail end of 2008 has been unusually flush with Star Wars games, both in terms of releases and announcements. We've already seen The Force Unleashed hit stores and the big unveiling of BioWare's The Old Republic, but soon a pair of Wii and DS games based on the Clone Wars will be released as well. We just spent some time with the DS game, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance, which might be described as a cinematic action game that's heavy on polished visuals and light on complex controls.

Strong with the graphics, this one is.

Jedi Alliance fits neatly into the Clone Wars canon established by the recently released animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The story begins when some mysterious space pirates nab a shipment of lightsaber crystals intended for Jedi use and Jedi use only. To prevent these powerful gems from falling into the wrong hands, members of the Jedi Council take it upon themselves to seek out this lost cargo. One thing that makes the game unique is your ability to choose a pair of Jedi Council buddies to play as prior to the beginning of each level. Certain hidden areas require specific Jedi tandems to unlock, so their individual strengths--such as Ahsoka Tano's environmental Force powers or Obi-Wan Kenobi's sweet beard--need to be heavily weighed before each stage.

The typical Star Wars flair for theatrics is present all throughout Jedi Alliance. Mission-briefing cutscenes are detailed and drawn-out affairs, with voice acting and character models done to match the cartoonish look of the Clone Wars. In fact, Jedi Alliance is easily one of the best-looking 3D games on the DS, with detailed levels rich in lighting and explosive effects.

Those complex visuals might be the polar opposite of the control scheme, which relies almost exclusively on simple stylus commands. This system encompasses a wide variety of techniques. You'll be using the touch screen to swing your lightsaber in combat (tap on the enemies), deflect laser blasts aimed at you (tap yourself at the moment of impact), and open locked doors (generally a shape-tracing or -matching minigame). The variety of commands that you perform with the touch screen aren't always very intuitive, so it's a good thing that the game keeps an easy record of them available to view any time you hit the select button.

One way the cinematic presentation and simplified controls intertwine is during the occasional "Jedi Action Sequence." These are moments when your character will need to perform feats of athletic daring such as swinging over impossible gaps and evading falling objects. Instead of a traditional quick-time event, you'll see a swooping movement on the screen and you'll need to mimic that motion with the stylus, keeping in mind the precise angle and speed of said swoop. You'll need to do these very carefully because the game can and will force you to start a lengthy cutscene over again--dialogue and all--if you fail a single one. But that's not always so bad, given that these action sequences look really slick.

This droid is as good as dead.

One of the few moments when you'll be pressing buttons is when you want to activate certain Force attacks. Doing a Force push is a simple matter of holding down either the L or R button and tapping an enemy to knock it off its feet (and presumably into a wall). The same button combination is used to activate various interactive objects in the game that you need to press to progress through the various star ships, palaces, and vivid alien landscapes that make up the Star Wars universe.

If you're itching to slay droids with an easy swipe of the stylus, you'll be pleased to know that Jedi Alliance isn't far off. The game is scheduled for release on November 11. You can look forward to seeing our review right around then.

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9 comments
darthslim108
darthslim108

Come on, this things been out for like 2 weeks now. Where's the review?!

jorgeurantia
jorgeurantia

I was not mistaken. This is the best game I have played in the DS since Phantom Hourglass and many other titles. The stylus flies around the exquisite 3d environment designed with good taste. The minigames (?) are not easy not hard, so they are well-balanced. The game is fast paced. Fast paced. I was afraid abouth the battles cos they seemed to be (in the videos) a little fast, but hey they are fast because it is the regular pace they have, nothing intended , it is a natural speed, and that's great. The game flows naturally and takes you with it...at its own rythim. Gamplay is superb, everybody can play this game, whether you have experience or not (my gf is super new to videogames, and she's loving it and in "level 3"..so far. she (and I) love games with full stylus) That's related to the playability, everybody can play this game thanks to the stylus. the gameplay is simple, but not childish at all. it is not easy, but not hard either. it is well balanced. The "action sequences" are just eye amazing, cos the points of view are so cinematic (thanks to the production team that worked in the movie and series) that you are like "wow" when the action parts appear (those that you use the stylus to move the characters in certain crucial moments.) the jumps work great and the companion character the supporter, has a nice AI. The music is nice, so nice that sometimes you can sit there just to listen to the music and let it get you in the mood. If you stay a minute in one particular environment and start moving around "searching" or "looking" the "stage" in which you are in, you are certainly going to find something hidden (just like those "hidden" paths in classic mario games). Sometimes when you make a mistake and can't pass a sector in a level you dont have to start all over again, you begin in the same point you made the mistake, so you dont "die" which is something innovative. Well, this game is all about innovation but in the good sense of the word. innovation that really works. The stylus flows so well. do you want to move, just touch there and the character will be there. Simple and hard puzzles at the same time, well balanced puzzlez I mean. You can choose the character that u want to use, more than 5 to choose from, and yes you can unlock more and more things in the game, clothing, sketchs! drawings, etc. Though that's not the most important thing it is a very nice reward. The 3d models are certainly between the best of the DS, sometimes a face looks so great. The close up with the movemet of the lips in the cinematics look great (just rememeber the face of the red lady villain at the beginning) . Yes you can use c3p0 and r2d2. Oh, i'm playing the spanish game so the voices, yes! are in spanish! and with subtittles in spanish too. so you can listen and read if u dont get something they say.- The ingame tutorial is not oppresive , it is very simple, and the lady speaking explains things ins asimple way and SHORT. which is something good, cos you want to play the game and not sit in the tutorial. in terms of the SW universe nothing negative to say. Everything is there. The game is easy to play, relatively easy, it is fast paced. you can play with diferent characters, it is not always the same , you have variety. In certain moments the characters may look a bit "little". so you need a good eye . but that's not always. it is in some..minor times. The enviroment grows in those moments though. Music is good. The jumps are easy to control, that's a great accomplishment. you have to follow a sequence. Definitley this game is one of the best in the DS and you should buy it. and it deserves a good score and review. Thanks for the space and for reading. As a closure statement: The DS is all about the Stylus. A good game that uses stylus flawless get good credits. It is a must for game developers nowadays to focus on moving characters using the stylus. Please game developers, focus on full stylus use as this guys just did in this game. I'm not a SW die hard fan, but I can see a good game when I play it.

billybobbarvis
billybobbarvis

LastPRmarine: If you don't like them, then don't play them!

jorgeurantia
jorgeurantia

Finally a Star wars Games that I'm I'm really looking forward to play. Full Stylus, great 3d, voices, a great plot, and star wars. In your pocket! The most I like is the touch screen capacity of the Game, touch and move in the environment. great jumps, great scenery. Really looking forward to it. A great game for everybody in the Nintendo DS. So far it looks promising.

LastPRmarine
LastPRmarine

Please no more 3D DS games unless Nintendo makes it or not

AAwiidog
AAwiidog

meh, might not be too bad