TT Games are fantastic. Their Lego titles have, ever since the first Lego Star Wars, given gamers of all ages terrific entertainment. It's the same quality that great Pixar films possess of being able to amuse everyone; veteran gamers can attempt to find all collectibles (brutally challenging), yet the gameplay is simple and forgiving enough so it's a perfect fit for younger gamers. And both sides will be amused at the humour and references.
It's a brilliant concept, and, with the exception of the not so inspired Lego Indiana Jones, they have all been good games. Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is my personal favourite out of the series, perhaps because it's the game that is most different form the other Lego titles. Because if there is one flaw to be found, it's that they are all very similar. You get the sense that TT Games has a blueprint they use for all these games and then they use pour on the content and that's it.
But what I really want to get across is that there is no greater license than Star Wars to base a Lego game on. Everything is in place to craft a superb game from, and this is what the original blueprint was based upon after all. It makes it easier to accept that I'm really just performing the same tasks that I've done many times before.
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is naturally based on the cartoon Clone Wars, but it also features stuff from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. There is tons and tons of material for TT Games to pull from, and for someone like me who has not been following the TV series to any great extent, it's even more exciting to follow this (relatively fresh) chapter of saga in a galaxy far, far away.
To be frank the 3D effects in Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars are nothing short of breathtaking. Sure, the effects aren't as useful for the players as say in Pilotwings Resort, but it looks wonderful. From a technical point of view it's perhaps the most proficient game on the platform so far, hinting at the power under the hood of the 3DS.
If you've played any of the previous Lego Star Wars titles you will feel right at home. There is a hub world where you can earn credits, an arcade with mini-games (Droid Volleyball is really good), a store and the option to customise your characters.
It starts out very promising. You play as Yoda, back in his freshman years when he could bound across levels like a hyperactive muppet, happily hacking at objects in the level and letting credits rain upon his bald little noggin. The promise of Lego reformation returns quickly, as the ships's stripped of parts with a wave of a hand, engines rebuilding into a large fan, gaining me access to a ledge above - and collection of the first ten secrets in the level. As always, fortune favours the curious.
And as standard for the Lego games, I stumble upon areas blocked and objects I'm unable to interact with, and rapidly file through my memory to theorise which character I need to unlock to pass through these thresholds. The setup is still welcome and adds meaningful replayability.
There is one major problem with Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars - it's not particularly built for short spurts of play - not ideal for a portable system. The levels are fairly long and can take up to 30 minutes to complete. Each level is divided into chapters, but you cannot save after these so if you have to turn off your Nintendo 3DS mid-level you're going to have to replay it.
This is a great source of irritation. For portable games, especially when threat of battery power depleting it is incredibly important that you can save almost anywhere.
It would also have been the perfect game for a co-operative mode, the experience is part of what defines the Lego titles after all, but there is neither local co-op or online co-op. It does however support Street Pass and if you happen across another player while your Nintendo 3DS is in sleep mode you'll receive some nice extras.
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a great game in many ways and one of the games I've spent the most time on so far with Nintendo 3DS. The space levels provide great variation in between slaying enemies and solving puzzles. There is seemingly an infinite amount of unlockables. Too bad about the save system and the lack of a co-operative mode - else this would have been the definite 3DS title at launch.