A long time ago in a galaxy far far away Star Wars games had gone the way of the dark side, that was until the good Knights at Travellers Tales gave us Lego Star Wars. Since then the Lego and Star Wars franchise has created some fine titles, even moving away to other blockbuster franchises, so with TT returning to their roots with the more current Star Wars shows, The Clone Wars, is this just more of the same?
Based on the first two seasons of the animated show which is set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, you can play as Jedi greats like Anakin and Obi Wan, a huge roster of Clone Troopers and even a few fan favourites like Kit Fisto and Aurra Sing. Just like every other Lego game you start with the story mode, which starts with a prologue based in the Geonosian gladiator arena in Attack of the Clones and then splits into three separate story lines with the Jedi chasing after General Grevious and his droid army, Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress, each travelling to familiar planets and also fighting in space.
The action is mainly on foot fighting interspersed with some simple puzzles using weapons and force powers as well as space fights with you arming proton torpedoes to dish out serious damage. Unlike previous games the flight and foot modes are seamlessly linked into each level, you could be running around the hanger of a Separatist ship only to jump into a recently built starfighter and then fly outside, take out a few key areas, land and then go by foot again, creating the largest levels seen in a Lego game to date.
In the Clone Wars the story is just the beginning, with you finding yourself in the command bridge of a Republic starship during a large battle you are able to wander around the ship to open up free play modes which allow you search for every hidden gem (Droidika bowling anyone?) in the game using newly purchased characters. The main hub level is so much bigger then the previous games, with it even allowing you to purchase and fly a ship over to the attacking Separatist ship and purchase evil characters. The Separatist ship also has a few extra levels snuck away that are only unlockable by collecting those gold bricks, plus a group of hostage missions that has you playing as bounty hunters on the lookout for Republic heroes on behalf of Hutt crime lord.
One of the bigger changes to the Lego Star Wars franchise are the ground battles. Some appear in the Count Dooku missions but there are also two whole game modes where you need to control all of the planets as either the Republic or Separatists. Each ground battle starts with one area in your control and the remaining under the enemies control with it being up to you to destroy all of the buildings and weaponry in each area, capture it and then move on the next area over a huge bustling battlefield with hundreds of Clones and droids battling it out.
As you take over new areas you are able to bring up a simple menu which allows you to purchase new buildings that offer you support, be it a shield generator, Clone Trooper barracks, laser cannons and even call in ground or air support. The buildings are made of various materials so some pre planning of your attack and defence is required, with silver buildings only taking damage from rockets and gold buildings only weak spot being rapid laser fire, so if playing as one of the Clone Officers you can command a Clone battalion to follow you and concentrate their firepower on some of the gold buildings.
This is easily the best looking Lego game to date with every little Lego brick looking great on the screen plus some excellent lighting effects that offer plenty of surprises, especially in the darker levels with your lightsaber being the only form of illumination.
Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars is just classic Lego, a fun storyline, great looks and so many collectibles that constantly offer more value to the game, it never feels a chore playing with those same characters over and over again and is therefore yet another fantastic addition to the Star Wars franchise.
You can purchase your copy of Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars here (PS3) and here (Xbox 360).