Star Wars: The Clone War (Gamecube Version)
Reviewed by Joshua Griffin
There’s a whole parallel movie going on simultaneously to the end of Attack of the Clones. Just how did the Jedi land on Geonosis undetected for the big climax to Episode II? The Clone War released today from LucasArts will give you the answer. From taking out orbital guns for landing to shuttling Jedi to the execution arena for the big rescue, you’ll see the behind the scenes action that made the dramatic pinnacle of Star Wars Episode II possible.
As soon as I saw Attack of the Clones, I immediately wanted to put myself in the action. By far, the best part of the movie was the last 45 minutes, and now we get the chance to be front and center for the beginning of the end - and then some. You’ll be in control of Republic vehicles from the movie and others created just for this game set in diverse locations from all over the galaxy to complete a balanced combination setting up the scenarios for intense action.
The premise for the game is unquestionably faultless. The movie in essence sets up the game, introducing the Clone War concept to the audience, leaving gamers to take the cue and run with it. But the game overall has some minor nuances that left me wondering if a few more weeks of refinement would have been in order. Don’t get me wrong, this game is nothing short of brilliant in concept, it just falls behind in execution.
The gameplay is passionate; the control is right on and intuitive especially if you’ve played previous Star Wars titles like Shadows of the Empire and Battle for Naboo. Each vehicle controls significantly differently, each with plenty of weapons and secondary firing capabilities. You’ll scramble a bit when you play it initially simply because the action is so intense, but after a few missions you’ll be tossing missiles around like candy, nuking Separatists forces with ease, and sending wingmen fearlessly into combat with reckless abandon.
Graphically, the game is exactly what you should expect. While there is some “fade-in” on levels with distances to be viewed and even some slow down in some of the most extreme instances, these minor problems can be forgiven with the overall experience. Even the plain 30 frames per second can be exonerated simply because the idea for the game is so unspoiled. The game really shines in the graphic department on particular levels, considering the “in the middle of the action” direction of the game. There are literally hundreds of friendly and enemy units in each battle, stationary targets and background elements at each encounter. Aggressive artificial intelligence will test you on the most difficult setting only, the word you have to use to describe it is overwhelmed. You always feel just slightly out of control, just about to be defeated when your backup arrives or they drop supplies to repair your ship.
But these grand scale graphics don’t hold up well when you come in close. The first person views from the vehicles look amazing, but when cutting to the cinemas it just isn’t as detailed as I expected and they feel pirated somehow from the film counterpart. In the big picture though, the graphics are out of control, up close they are diminished. Again, totally forgivable for the inclusive experience.
As for sound, the title has signature Star Wars music and all of the familiar sights and sounds of Star Wars. I love the Dolby Pro Logic II (since DD 5.1 EX isn’t an option) and the rear channels were active and the bass rumbling. The voice acting is weak because Lucas can never get the real actors to do voiceovers, but you can fake your mind into completing the experience. I would have preferred Obi-Wan to never say “I’m not sure” ever again (after the Xbox experience) – though he mentions to squeeze it in twice here. And may I suggest a sound cue as opposed to a voice actor when you kill the target you wanted to send your wingman toward. But all in all though, the game delivers the dependable experience you’ve come to expect from LucaArts within the limitations of the system.
The movie cinemas are sweet, though the people look a bit plastic. The in game ones are also fine, though again lack polish and the resolution changes are too obvious. As for the multiplayer, think Cyber Sled on steroids. I used to love the classic action title from the arcade days, and that is exactly what it feels like here with unlimited arenas and weapons. Honestly, this is one aspect of the game I want to play more of with friends before I review it, so let me just say it is fun for my limited experience there so far.
Overall, this title is a solid offering – exactly what I was hoping it would be. Is it flawed? Perhaps, but not enough for me to complain. I absolutely love it, and recommend it to fans of Episode II unreservedly. I would give this the highest rating if the game simply had a bit more polish over the entire project. A bit more enhancement on every level, and everyone would have had this title preordered. Lacking that, however, The Clone Wars for Nintendo’s Gamecube gives you a front row seat of the legendary conflict where you control the outcome. Hold on to your controller, this is one intense ride.
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