The swashbuckling adventure of the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated TV series is headed to a console near you in Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes, a new action adventure game that will let you play as either a lightsaber-wielding Jedi or a heavy-duty clone soldier. As a clone soldier, you'll be able to lay down heavy fire and toss thermal detonator grenades. As a Jedi, you'll be able to use force powers and even commandeer combat droids to ride them around the battlefield. We sat down with assistant producer Xavier Rodriguez for more details.
GameSpot: We understand that the game will offer two different sets of playable characters that essentially offer differing play experiences. First, let's cover the Jedi characters--give us an overview of the action that players will experience as a Jedi.
Xavier Rodriguez: Well from the start, we really wanted an experience where almost anyone could jump right in and start playing the game quickly. And you'll definitely see a lot of the trademark Jedi acrobatic action you'd expect from an episode of the show.
The Jedi, of course, focus on lightsaber combat with a few special moves thrown in. In addition, we've made sure to include the lightsaber throw, charge-up attacks, Force use, some acrobatic moves, and puzzle-specific Force moves.
In addition, the Jedi have the ability to "droidjack" any droid by physically jumping on any droid they can hijack. From that point, you can use one of the larger super battle droids as a mobile weapons platform against other droids, lay mines with the chameleon droid, or use each droid's special abilities to solve environmental puzzles, among many other things.
GS: We understand that we'll also be able to play as clone soldiers. What kinds of things will they be doing in the game? How will what they do be different from what a Jedi does? And how can guys in clunky body armor possibly be as interesting and cool as a Jedi who can use lightsabers and Force powers?
XR: Let's put this in perspective for a second. A Jedi goes into battle with the Force as their primary weapon. A grizzled veteran like Rex goes into battle with a couple of pistols and his wits alone. And yet, after all is said and done, they've both survived numerous battles and left a trail of droids parts behind them. And Rex does it all without the Force.
For the game, we've given Rex, Cody, and their pals plenty of firepower (think grenades, rockets, and chainguns). They have tech skills the Jedi don't have, melee attacks, and most importantly, clones fight as a well-oiled combat unit. The 501st is renowned throughout the galaxy, and it's not for their "clunky" armor.
GS: We understand that Jedi will do battle with only a single combat button. How does this work in practice? How many fancy Jedi moves will players be able to pull off?
XR: The Jedi only use their basic lightsaber attack off of one button. This is so we could include all the other moves that we mentioned above. They all have a signature move, a charging attack, several powerful jumping attacks, and as mentioned above, Force use, lightsaber throw, and the droidjack, which is different for every droid.
GS: What sort of foes will players face throughout the game? How will these encounters be different when played as clone soldiers rather than Jedi?
XR: We've got a variety of droids in the game that we've pulled from different sources. Some will be familiar, such as the super battle droids and droideka, while others we've created specifically for the game, such as the sabotage and chameleon droids. We've included some larger foes, such as the vulture droid and octuptarra for you to test your mettle against. On top of all this, expect some of the classic Clone Wars villains (as well as some new ones) to give the Republic Forces a hard time.
GS: We understand that in addition to combat, the game will have various puzzle elements. Tell us about these. Will there be more to solving puzzles than looking for the red keycard to open the red door? Give us an example.
XR: The clones are proficient at hacking the various control panels throughout the game. Much like R2-D2 was needed to open the various locks in the movies, we've given the player the ability to try their hands at this. The Jedi have a wide variety of puzzle-solving to do. There are puzzles that can only be solved with judicious use of the Force, boss battles that will take a bit of thinking, and environmental obstacles that can only be bypassed by using the droidjack ability in clever ways.
GS: We understand that the game is being developed with more or less full access to the art assets used for the original TV series. What does this access let you do with the game?
XR: From the beginning, we really wanted to accurately capture the look and atmosphere from the show, so we got our hands on the actual models from Lucas Animation, recorded with the same voice actors, and worked in tandem with the producers of the show. I think the end result is a game that really looks and feels more like the source material than any Star Wars game before it, especially when you get a look at the cutscenes.
GS: We also understand that the game's story is being penned by actual writers of the show. What can you tell us about the events in the game and how they tie together with the TV series?
XR: This story for Republic Heroes picks up where the last three episodes of season one left off. We join the Jedi during the resolution of the occupation of Ryloth. Mace Windu, Anakin, and Ahsoka have just broken a blockade set by the Techno Union, and they've managed to capture Dooku's henchman, Wat Tambor. As we reveal in the game, though, the battle is far from over. The Separatists have decided to make an example out of Ryloth, and even though they've lost the biggest battle, a battle droid isn't programmed to surrender. Players start out as Anakin and Ahsoka, but as the story progresses, you'll be able to take on the roles of over eight Jedi knights and 10 clone troopers in a race against the Separatist army. The clock is ticking as the Jedi, the Separatists, and Cad Bane (the recently showcased bounty hunter from the season finale) chase down a doomsday weapon. Along the way, we'll see familiar faces, such as Count Dooku and Assaj Ventress, and a few characters that you'll meet for the first time.
GS: It's pretty incredible that the team is shooting for a simultaneous October 6 release on six different game platforms (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii, PSP, and DS). Tell us about how you've been able to plan for six different game versions? What about some of the significant differences across platforms--how did the team account for things like controlling the game with a Wii Remote as opposed to a traditional Xbox 360 controller?
XR: Actually it's seven platforms as we're releasing [the] PS2 in North America! Producing Republic Heroes has definitely been a herculean task, and it's all about maintaining excellent communication between the different departments. One would think because we're all under one roof, it's easier, but with this title alone, we're managing communication across six development studios [and] quality assurance teams around the world. We have people in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, and Europe. We've got lots of people working on different plans simultaneously, and you've got to keep an eye on it all. When it comes to large tasks like that, getting a handle on the Wii Remote design was pretty easy. The Wii Remote naturally acts like a lightsaber, as well as a pointer for the clone rifle. So no problems there.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the game?
XR: I think, overall, we really succeeded in translating the animated show feel to the game, and I'm really excited to see how the public reacts. We've definitely seen a positive reaction from people when we show them the game and especially when we let them play it. I think for our older audience...they haven't really been paying a lot of attention to the show and so they don't feel this recent round of Star Wars is for them. I would say give the show (and the game!) a chance to win you over. There's a reason that the animated show is the highest ranked and watched show on the Cartoon Network right now.
GS: Thank you for your time!