It doesn’t seem too long ago that I was reminiscing about the LEGO Star Wars game which birthed a legacy in 2005; a series that’s still going strong to this day. As of right now however, it’s time to celebrate a later instalment from 2011, while also taking a look at how it went slightly off-piste in terms of the gameplay and the source of its narrative. I am of course referring to LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, which is full of innovation and probably doesn’t get enough credit for the things it attempted. So, let’s delve a little deeper into the fourth iteration of the LEGO Star Wars saga.
With developers Traveller’s Tales having already covered the original trilogy and the prequels in two separate offerings, as well as milking the Star Wars franchise for a complete collection featuring their take on all six films, you’d be forgiven for thinking the ideas had run dry. Fortunately, there was a new hope courtesy of the animated Cartoon Network series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. As such, the accompanying adaptation, titled LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, got a release on 25th March 2011 in Europe for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC and a selection of handheld devices. And what a welcome addition it turned out to be.
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LEGO Star Wars III is heavily influenced by the Clone Wars animation, sourcing the majority of its narrative from the first two seasons. Hence, we were treated to storytelling involving the ongoing conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which sees Anakin, Ahsoka, Padme, Yoda and more familiar faces (yes, even Jar Jar) heading out to foil the treacherous plans of any evildoers. Expect to venture onto infamous planets like Tatooine and Naboo, as well as the lesser known Geonosis and Christophsis, with a trip to the third moon of Vassek thrown in for good measure.
The three main arcs, spanning six levels each, focus on Sith Lord Count Dooku, his apprentice Asajj Ventress, and the ruthless droid commander General Grievous. Unlike many LEGO games, it provides the choice to dip in and out of these different narrative threads as you please. This means you can enjoy the tales from the animation in any order and get a few giggles from the associated cutscenes, which tend to be filled with goofy visual comedy. Sure, it would be nice to have voiceovers, but the slapstick humour makes up for it and if you want the whole story, just check out the animated series alongside a playthrough.
In regards to the gameplay, anyone who’s ever spent a gaming session playing the LEGO games will know it mostly centres on bashing up baddies, destroying structures made up of bricks, and building useful devices to progress. That seldom changes here. There are however some excellent uses of the Force, leading to projectiles being returned to sender, the knocking back of multiple enemies at once, and holding droids afloat as they unwillingly fire at their allies. The Clone Troopers have a neat trick up their sleeve too, enabling them to command fellow Clones to orchestrate a squad attack.
Arguably the most innovative inclusion in LEGO Star Wars III though is that of the strategic skirmishes playing out across a sprawling battlefield. The aim is to capture bases by commandeering tanks and speeders before launching assaults on energy towers as well as the enemy cannons protecting them. Upon claiming an area for the Republic, it then allows you to spend Studs (the main currency) on constructing barracks and vehicle facilities to aid in capturing the rest. It’s fresh and ensures a real variety is added to proceedings in tandem with the other level designs seeing you flying battle cruisers and slogging it out on foot. Bizarrely, the idea never really took off and such grand scale assaults haven’t been implemented in the LEGO games since.
Nevertheless, LEGO Star Wars III has more than enough to offer as a total package; it even features characters on it’s 100+ strong playable roster from much further along the timeline such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. In the aftermath, everything went quiet on the LEGO front, until LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived in 2015. With TT Fusion at the helm, it boasted a massive roster, actual voiceovers, cover-based shooting and the chance to sit in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. If nothing else, it reignited my love for the LEGO series after a few of the other licensed games had begun to cause real deterioration to my interest levels.
That left many wanting more and the wait is still ongoing, but the light at the end of the tunnel is drawing ever-closer. The next instalment LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, slated for a Spring launch, is almost upon us and will somehow cram in the happenings of all nine Star Wars films. What’s more, it’ll let you play out the story in any order you wish, which means you can happily avoid the films you’re not particularly fond of.
Anyway, I found great enjoyment back in 2011 thanks to LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, but what about you? Feel free to get in touch and share fond memories of your experience with it, or even if you didn’t like it, I’d love to hear why via the comments section below!