Into the Vault: Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
We are right on the verge of Star Wars being a huge multimedia hype machine again. Sure Bobba Fett just wound down (and arguably did not help any hype) but the Galactic Starcruiser just opened in Disney World and despite preconceived notions of it being a low-rent overpriced disaster the reviews are pretty glowing (but it’s still extremely expensive), we have a new series all about Obi-Wan with Ewan McGregor starting in May, and in-between all that we have easily the most ambitious Lego game in years, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.
I will definitely talk more about The Skywalker Saga closer to its actual launch and around the release, but seeing as I hadn’t done an “Into the Vault” column since August (!), it seemed like a good time to check out one of the few Lego entries I haven’t played, Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars III, which I have for my Xbox.
And you know, there have certainly been hills and valleys in the nearly now two-decade history of Lego games based on licensed properties, but it definitely seemed to plateau right around this time. There would be some new ideas here and there but really post Lego Harry Potter: Years 1–4 Lego games have mostly been providing diminishing returns (with the exception of Lego City Undercover, the actual best Lego game) pretty much not offering anything new in most of their games and when they do try new ideas they usually don’t execute them very well or they don’t alter the gameplay all that much along with mining material that honestly doesn’t necessarily warrant it’s own game compared to other efforts.
Lego Indiana Jones 2 was certainly the first to really go this route but Lego Star Wars III: Clone Wars is milking it in a different way as there’s certainly enough material in the Clone Wars TV show to make a game based off on, but it was also the fourth Lego game based on Star Wars in six years and the eighth licensed Lego action game in that same time span along with two other games coming out later that year (Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter Years 5–7). There’s only so much blood you can squeeze out of that Lego brick, guys.
But really, more than just being mostly the same old thing, Lego Star Wars III The Clone Wars is where the worst cracks in the Lego formula really start to show. Granted, you can get away with a lot in a game where it’s nearly impossible to actually fail, but even with that element an ostensibly being games clearly meant for the younger set they can be incredibly obtuse and frustrating and that really was not present in the early games but playing a couple hours of Clone Wars it’s in full effect here. The standard levels give surprisingly little direction and it’s pretty dull just to run around and hope something reacts to you (especially if you are playing the wrong character).
But the most frustrating aspect of Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is unfortunately its attempt at something new. The big new thing in Clone Wars is these large-scale battles usually between droids and clone troopers and you are caught in the middle as a major Star Wars character. The amount of things on-screen during these levels is fairly impressive, but it’s also super easy to get lost, nearly impossible to manage troops, a lot of stuff you don’t see off-screen and not just you, but vehicles are so fragile they are just constantly exploding which makes finishing these levels very difficult since you often need them to complete at least significant parts of these levels. And again, they are very poor about giving hints about what you are supposed to do or how to go about doing it.
I’ve played later Lego titles and some have been better than Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars for sure, but none have really matched those early years and The Clone Wars was certainly where the cracks really started to show and excels at all the worst aspects of Lego games they still haven’t really fixed over a decade later. If you want a Lego Star Wars game literally every other one is significantly better and there are many other better licensed Lego games easily available to pick up.
That’s all for today, I don’t think there will be another post this week but there will certainly be at least one next week and I should be back to regular posting on the blog, Disney game-related tweets on my Twitter account and I’ve been regularly updating the Instagram with new additions so check those out as well. See ya real soon!