Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars Preview 3DS Hands-On

We ready our lightsabers and do battle with Danish building blocks in the three-dimensional version of Traveller's Tales' latest Lego outing.

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With the release of the Nintendo 3DS fast approaching, the publisher has been keen to show off the diverse range of titles planned for the stereoscopic handheld. From first-party favourites and classic reimaginings, to third-party first outings, the current 3DS lineup is nothing if not impressive: Street Fighter IV, Super Monkey Ball 3D, Resident Evil Revelations, Dead or Alive, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wards, Samurai Warriors, Driver, Paper Mario, Starfox 64, Ocarina of Time, Splinter Cell 3D, The Sims 3D, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, Animal Crossing, and Kid Icarus. Of course, no new platform would be complete without a Lego adventure in its repertoire, so it's little surprise that the latest entry in the blocky franchise, Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, will be making its way to the 3DS (just not sure when). We recently sat down with the first playable demo of the title on the 3DS to see just how good Obi-Wan and Anakin look in three dimensions.

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Judging by our demo's opening cutscene, which shows Padme Amidala and C-3PO exchanging worried looks in a small room, we can assume the action is taking place just after the pair are taken hostage by General Grievous, an event that leads Obi-Wan, R2-D2, and Anakin (or Ani, as he will be affectionately known from now on) to board Grievous' warship--the Malevolence--to try to save the senator. The cutscene itself appeared quite blurry in parts and did not feel three-dimensional--more like a badly tuned television set. However, the 3D effect greatly improved once the gameplay kicked off.

We began in a chamber, and while waiting for the battle droids to get close enough for us to show them who's boss, we did the Lego thing and destroyed as much of the environment as possible for maximum stud spillage. You can move through the game using either the console's D pad or the nifty new 3DS circle pad, which gives you full analog control. No prizes for guessing that the latter provides a much smoother and precise way to control. For combat, it was a mix of the usual button configurations: Y to strike, B to jump, A to use the force (or is that, "the Force?").

All the 3D action takes place on the console's top widescreen, while the bottom LCD touch screen serves as a gameplay guide, with a map of the current area showing your position and an R2-D2 helper button that pops up every time the game wants to explain something (although, you don't have to click it if you're some sort of Lego Star Wars expert). During our demo we had to use the bottom touch screen a few times to follow the in-game prompts and draw circular shapes with the 3DS stylus to open particular doors.

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We could pick between three characters in the demo: Obi, Ani, and R2. As is the Lego way, each playable character has his or her (or its) own benefits. For example, Ani is young and cool, but he doesn't yet know how to use the Force; Obi is old and wise, but he's kind of slow; and R2 is neither young nor wise, but he can fly. We needed a combination of all three characters to complete the demo, although we mostly stuck with Obi because most of the demo was full of areas that required Force powers to solve puzzles (as opposed to being combat-heavy). These areas were denoted by a green glow and included things like walls that could be moved, a bridge that could be extended, and springy platforms that would allow Obi to do neat backflips and move up a wall.

The 3D effect maintained its own level of coolness throughout the demo, particularly in the parts when Obi uses the Force on particular objects and you can see them coming out of the wall towards you (which happens a lot). We did switch the 3D depth slider down to 2D throughout some parts of the demo, just to compare, and we found that although 2D was not as immersive, the colours were brighter and everything appeared crisper.

Our short demo definitely left us wanting more, and we look forward to playing the game again on the 3DS ahead of its release.

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