Work and a few personal things have been getting in the way of playing games, but I still managed to find a bit of time with LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.
They’ve made a few larger changes, and some more subtle ones, to the usual LEGO and LEGO Star Wars format.
The biggest immediate change is that some levels aren’t just the platform/vehicle/puzzle mix, but also have a Real Time Strategy (RTS) element. That is, you need to take over enemy territory, and use it to increase your forces so that you can remove the enemy from the level. On the other hand, they don’t have the intense resource management associated with RTS games, and might be viewed as RTS Lite. These levels are fun for a bit, but I find they are far too drawn out and eventually get tiresome. Especially when I want to go back and do the Free Play, I just have very little motivation for them.
Another larger change is that they seem to have a new graphics engine which gives two improvements:
- More realistic lighting and shadows.
- More characters on screen at once.
The new lighting gives real shadows, which is used to good effect in some levels. There are some portions that are in darkness until you use your Light-sabre to illuminate them. This can reveal anything from LEGO objects to destroy, to hidden enemies. It’s also rather pretty with reflections in some environments, so it’s also a visual improvement. On the other hand, I’ve always used the faux shadow that was always under my character to line certain jumps up with the 3-D world, and that isn’t always possible now.
Some of the character battles (like the Geonosis Arena) in the earlier games were chaotic, but with far more characters pouring onto the screen, it’s now rather insane. In a good way. This now means that many battles do feel like epic battles with platoons of droids and clone-troopers milling around and adding to the fray.
Some of the subtler changes are welcome, once you notice them.
Characters seem to no longer be able to be hit while building or using the Force. This removes the one irritation I had with earlier games, where it was difficult and frustrating to perform certain tasks because of the number or spawn rate of enemies.
Another change is that once you have a Score multiplier turned on, then you no longer lose studs when dying. I’m in two minds about this, but I’ve mostly decided it’s a good change, though I’m not sure you need to find the Invulnerable power brick anymore.
The light-sabre battles feel much better now. Not only does each character have their own style (as they used to), but when fighting they feel more like they’re blocking and parrying than before. Also against ‘special’ enemies there are unique moves that really make you feel like you’re having a proper light-sabre battles.
New Brick Types
Before you had normal bricks that just about anything could destroy, and silver ones that needed heavy fire-power like rockets to destroy. Now they’ve added gold bricks, which require sustained, fast fire-power to destroy. At times this is a single trooper with a ‘chain gun’ type weapon, at other times it’s a group of troopers all firing at once. This adds another lot of puzzles, and a few news options for solving them.
Greater Level Mix
Many of the levels are also a greater mix of the (now) three basic types:
So, for example, you might start out in a vehicle, but land and change to platformer. Or you might start with platformer, and move to a mix of vehicle and RTS. This mixes the levels up and, barring my gripe with the RTS sections, gives a nice variety to the levels.
The New Hub System
Lastly I’ll mention the new hub system. Instead of each “Episode” being a room, and each level a door off that, most levels (except the Space Mission) are accessed through a holographic display. This shows you various planets and moons that you gain access to as you progress, each one giving you a level to play. It makes it easier to select levels, rather than having to wander all over.
So am I enjoying myself? Mostly. As I’ve said, the RTS levels are becoming tedious, but I’m enjoying the rest of the game. There’s a bit more learning involved because things have changed so much at the Hub, but mostly I think the changes are good and add more interest to the game. Really, if the RTS sections were taken away, or reduced a lot, I’d have less to grumble about.