Sunday, September 13, 2009

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes (Xbox 360) Demo Impressions

Honestly, I expected better. Much of my experience with the demo smacked of sloppy. The writing style is in the tradition of the show, which is a plus seeing as how the game bridges the gap between seasons 1 and 2 of the series, and the voice acting was also consistent, but the rest of the package leaves a lot to be desired.

The demo features a level played from the Clone's perspective, and a level played from the Jedi's perspective. The Clone level sees you taking on the role of a technician clone who's name I can't recall, traveling with Commander Cody while trying to get everyone off a space station before it blows. The Jedi level sees you taking charge of Anakin Skywalker while Ashoka accompanies you in taking on Battle Droids of various sorts on a Separatist occupied world. There's also a Databank detailing the characters, weapons, and vehicles in the game, as well as a Store in which you can buy upgrades and bonus items, with the currency being the points you earn by progressing through the levels. I had Anakin running around with Leia's hair buns, for example.

Graphically, I found the game lacking. The current generation of consoles, most notably the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, are capable of pulling off some really great visuals, but the demo for Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes (Xbox 360) really looked last-gen to me. While it's clear the developers were working on capturing the look of the animated series, honestly, they fell short; the character models look far too clunky, lower polygons I suppose, and to make matters worse the camera angles almost always work against you. You also can _not_ control the camera.

Control wise, the game just feels sloppy and something as simple as aiming is a chore. In brief, the left stick moves you around like most games, and as a Clone, Right Trigger fires, but you can also use the Right Stick to aim and Fire at the same time. Any direction you push that stick, your Clone will Fire his weapon. Left Trigger Crouches, "X" Melees or interacts with consoles, "A" Rolls or Vaults, and "Y" is an Alternate Fire, Detonators in the case of the Demo, which are also hard to aim correctly. Again, you can't control the camera, but thankfully the enemies are not that challenging, and you can't even die. If you do run out of life, you just respawn at a pre-determined point while the game carries on, no having to redo anything.

I also found it a step backward in game design that many areas are blocked off by invisible walls. I'm not talking about out-of-the-way locations, I mean a door opens up right beside you and a Super Battle Droid walks through. You dispatch the Droid and the door is completely ajar, but you can't enter.

For the Jedi Controls, the Right Trigger Blocks, "X" Attacks with your Lightsabre, "Y" uses Force Push or allows Jedi to interact with highlighted objects, and "A" Jumps. Very simple. You can double jump onto Spider Droids and Super Battle Droids and jam your Lightsabre into them, allowing you to control the Droid, moving it and using it's primary weapon. You can also use the Force to push rockets back at enemies, but good luck doing that, as aiming is a nightmare. For those of you who thought the aiming was poor in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, this Demo will make you re-evaluate that opinion! Even with a enemy Rocket clearly highlighted, you'll often miss and take the impact. Really, really sloppy.

From one perspective, I can see the game being designed more for kids, but even then, I can see lots of kids screaming at mommy and daddy over the frustrating controls. While I am a fan of the series, personally, based on this Demo, I'd recommend a rental at best. Realistically though, I'm going to completely pass on Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes and simply read a synopsis of the plot before watching season 2 of the show.

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