Believe it or not, but there were happier times for the Star Wars brand. Going back 14 years ago there was no Jar-Jar Binks. It’s hard to imagine the world without him, ha? It’s not that the bombardment of Star Wars content we’ve seen over the past decade is bad in quality, but it doesn’t do much justice for the franchise. Truth is, the Star Wars universe isn’t so deep that we actually care what happened a few hundred years before Anakin turned emo. Or what happened between any of the six main episodes. Yet we still get spin-off after spin-off, be it in the form of a game, book or television series. Thankfully, The Clone Wars animated series is actually pretty decent, as was its predecessor in Star Wars: Clone Wars from about six years ago. Unfortunately, the game based on the latest series in Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes is anything but decent. It’s actually probably one of the worst platformers this generation.
Republic Heroes is quite obviously aimed at a younger crowd and not the older, more dedicated Star Wars fanbase. The look of the game is pretty spot-on with the animated series, replicating each character and their appearance in the show almost perfectly. The graphics themselves are terrible, but in terms of capturing the look of the source material it does a wonderful job. Still, the 360/PS3 version looks like a Playstation 2 game. That’s not an exaggeration.
If something has a strong, dedicated fanbase, chances are it’s going to sell like hotcakes, no matter how crap the actual experience is. It’s disappointing to see in this day and age a title so blatantly aimed at a specific audience; one we know isn’t going to take notice of everything that’s wrong with this title. The five-year-old kid that’s going to play this won’t give a hoot about the crappy camera angles because they’re playing as friggin’ Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars! Yet that doesn’t justify releasing such a poor quality product. We see it so often with licensed games being rushed out the door to take advantage of market trends, and very rarely do we see those products being of any high quality.
The controls are inconsistent and frustrating, even though the game tries (important word there being “tries”) to hold your hand throughout. Because the camera angles are terrible, it’s often difficult to stick a landing on a specific area. If you’re on a ledge and you have to jump to a small pillar, you’ll automatically land on the pillar without a problem. But unless you jump precisely in the direction of the pillar, you’ll fall to your death. This won’t just happen once. You’ll come across points where you’re trying for 5-10 minutes on end trying to stick a simple landing. You’ll think you’re lined up with the pillar, but you’re just a tad too far to the left or right. Furthermore, because character movement is far too lose and overly responsive, moving the analog stick just slightly will see your character move further than you want. This will become an issue when you’re on a small ledge and all you want to do is move slightly to one side so you can make a jump.
It’s really difficult to comprehend how a game can be so assisting on one hand, but then be so frustrating on the other. Unless you’re absolutely precise with your movement you’ll just keep falling. It just feels stupid to have the game automatically make you stick a landing if you jump in the right direction; yet let you fall to your death over an edge. If the developer wanted it to be so simple, why not make it impossible to fall over an edge, forcing you to jump only at the correct spot? It has nothing to do with difficulty, but rather the developer’s ineptness to create an accessible control scheme.
Furthermore, you’ll have Yoda popping up literally every three minutes to give you tips. There’s no way to turn him off and he’ll blabber on and on right throughout the duration of the game. The funny thing is that if you miss what he says and you have no idea what to do, he doesn’t pop back up to give you a hint. Normally when tips like this are in a game, they pop back up if you’re taking too long to complete a certain area. You have to wait far too long for him to come back up, which kind of defeats the purpose of having him there to help you in the first place.
The combat is smooth initially, with the lightsabre controlling actually a lot less clunky than it was in The Force Unleashed. Yet because you’ll be coming up against the same enemies over and over again with little to no changes in the moves you can perform, the action gets old and boring very quickly. The production values clearly weren’t that high and even the puzzles you come across throughout the experience are repeated over and over again. You’ll occasionally have to jump on to a droid and use them to shoot down large pieces of rock and the like, but that’s pretty much as complex as the combat gets.
As for the story, you could play this whole game without watching any of the cutscenes, because they do a terrible job of telling you what’s going on and who’s who. That’s a shame because the television show has some pretty cool story arcs, yet the game completely fails to take advantage of what the show has on offer. It does a terrible job of making you want to play through the adventure and care about the characters and after an hour or so (if you even last that long), you’ll probably want to switch the game off.
The only good thing this game has going for it is its successful representation of the show through its visual presentation. The graphics suck though, so that kind of cancels itself out. The gameplay can be quite horrendous at times, especially the platforming elements, and while the lightsabre action can be fun initially, it gets old very quickly. The game was clearly meant to be easy and accessible for a younger crowd, but its problems make it far too frustrating to finish, therefore voiding any attempt to make it a simple and fun experience.
A complete and utter failure. The lightsabre is great, but the enemies are repetitive and the things you actually have to do get old after a few minutes. The camera angles and overly responsive movement make it difficult to stick landings, leading to countless restarts.
Playstation 2 graphics at best.
The Star Wars soundtrack gives the title a bit of class on the presentation front. Voice-actors do a decent job.
Looking at around 8-9 hours for the single-player, depending on your dedication.