Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels Hands-On

We get an updated look at LucasArts' upcoming Wii action game based on the CG Star Wars movie.

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LucasArts' upcoming Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels for the Wii is one step closer to the fan-requested lightsaber-dueling game that seems like a perfect fit for the motion-controlled console. The game is based on the film of the same name, which is part of a lengthy daisy chain of content that includes a forthcoming CG television show. The core of the multimedia blitz is a story that follows Obi-Wan Kenobi and pre-Padme-freak-out Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, as they fight against the evil Sith and the separatist forces. For those keeping your timelines in order at home, the movie, television series, and game all take place between Episodes II and III. We recently had the chance to get an updated look at the game at LucasArts' offices.

Lightsabers and the Wii Remote--together at last.
Lightsabers and the Wii Remote--together at last.

As we mentioned in our last look at the game, the core of the action in The Clone Wars is fighting. The game's structure is a linear run through a variety of locales taken from the movie, in which you'll fight familiar faces from the Star Wars universe. The fighting is wrapped in a storyline penned by writers from the film and upcoming television series, and it follows the basic plot of the film. In a nutshell, Anakin and company are on the hunt for Jabba the Hutt's son, who has been kidnapped. Besides looking for the mini-Hutt, the Jedi are obviously keen to bring his abductors to justice. But, like everything about the Clone Wars, there are more sinister forces in play than anyone realizes.

The fighting in the game benefits from the Wii's motion-control support and an intuitive spread of control responsibilities between the remote and the Nunchuk. The remote is your lightsaber and responds pretty reliably to your actions. The Nunchuk handles movement and lets you access your Force powers. By using both in tandem, you can create a modest array of combos. A modifier to the control and handling in the game is the character that you wind up selecting for battle. All of the game's fighters have their own attributes and handling, which gives them a unique feel. You'll unlock 10 characters as you go through the game, three of which should offer some nice surprises for fans.

The visuals in the game get a lot of mileage out of the motion picture's stylized look. The fighters look spot-on when compared to their movie counterparts, as do the environments. One thing to note is that each of the main environments is made up of three different sections that you fight in during the course of the fight. Although most are what you'd expect--Rancor-infested dungeons, spaceship interiors, and the like--we were pretty taken with a skytop base. The lofty arena is set on a floating platform that, in the latter part of the fight, is falling toward the planet's surface while you battle. Best of all is the game's frame rate, which is smooth and fast, key factors for a fighter. We should also call out the introductory cinematics that set up the battles and tell the story, given that they're done in retro World War II-style news bulletins complete with an emphatic announcer. The cinematics make use of CG from the film to set up the action, and they work well with the game's style.

The audio in the game covers all of the expected bases. You'll hear a good chunk of familiar Star Wars themes along with some of the new stuff that is being done for the film. You'll also hear all of the characters voiced by their movie counterparts. There are apparently 4,000 lines of character-specific dialogue to ensure that everyone gets a proper callout. As far as sound effects go, all of the classic lightsaber effects can be heard in the game, and they're even piped through the Wii Remote's speaker, so won't have to supply your own.

Based on what we saw, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels should be almost exactly what fans are looking for. There's a good mix of content from the film, the upcoming series, and the expanded universe to sate any burning cravings that the Star Wars faithful are having. Aside from the characters, there is also a decent array of unlockable content to open up, such as concept art, alternate costumes, and play modes. The game may not be the first-person lightsaber stabfest that the fans have been craving on the Wii, but it's a good step in that direction. Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels is slated to ship November 11 for the Nintendo Wii, and you can look for more on the game in the coming months.

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