It is no secret that we are quite enamored with most of the LEGO games that Traveller’s Tales has put out.
We own almost the whole set, and have played them all. Our current household ranking of the games, from most to least favorite, is:
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy – Maybe our most-played game on the Wii, this was TT’s second LEGO game, and they nailed what makes the games fun. Lots of puzzles, hidden surprises that make you want to replay levels, and breaking things… lots of smashing things into their little LEGO parts.
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 – We call this one LEGO Harry Potter: Movies 1-4, since the game follows the movies and not the books. But it does follow the movies very closely. We found that we could watch the movie for a given year, then could play through that year in the game without ever needing a hint. The spell system was fun. My daughter could not wait and played through the game without me, which was a first.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Combines the Original Trilogy with a reworked and more fun version of the original game. We played it through, though replay value was tainted a bit by the fact that we had already played episodes IV through VI to death.
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures – Lots of fun, though light on content. Made us go watch the movies again. The Temple of Doom segment, like its movie counterpart, was our least favorite.
- LEGO Batman: The Video Game – Fun, though we are not as into super heroes around here as we might be. Introduced the split screen concept, so my daughter and I would stop playing tug of war, but the flicker and playing on a partial section of screen was more annoying that the tug of war. Also, the controls on the driving levels needed some improvement.
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues – Like The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, proof that more is not always better. Split screen flicker got worse, the cut scenes were too frequent, and they tried to make the lobby area part of the game with its own requirements, which turned it into a confusing mess. My daughter played with the level creator more than we played the game, but the level creator didn’t seem to have a lot of real purpose in life.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game – The first game in the series, and TT was still figuring out what was going to be fun. This game is hard… that lava jumping level was a royal pain and there were a few levels we could barely start, much less finish. All the levels were reworked in the spirit of “puzzles and breaking stuff” in The Complete Saga. Fortunately, TT quickly figured out what made the games fun and hit the mark squarely with LEGO Star Wars II.
So we had to get LEGO Star Wars II: The Clone Wars.
We received it in the mail about two weeks ago and it is currently vying for the second or third spot on our list above.
It follows the story, or at least the first two seasons, of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series which we have been watching every Friday night at our house. And while I have not been paying the closest attention to the series, I recognize situations that have come up over the course of the series.
The game introducing a new engine for the LEGO series which seems to help the Wii along as it tries to render things on screen. The downside of the last few games, including Harry Potter, is that the Wii seemed to be quite taxed to keep up with what it was being asked to do. That goes away, to a certain degree, with LEGO Star Wars III.
The flicker that bothered me seems to have been reduced. Of course, those of you who grew up in the age of LCD monitors might not know to what I am referring, but flicker used to be a serious annoyance on CRT based monitors and tube TVs used as monitors. The reduction in flicker might, of course, be attributed to the fact that we no longer have a tube TV, but a nice big LCD screen.
This bigger screen, since the game expands out to play on the full 16:9 screen, and the reduction in flicker makes split screen play more bearable. I still am not fond of it, and neither is my daughter, and I wish it was an option that you could turn off, but it is not. In fact, there are sections of play where two players work on separate parts of a level on a divided screen.
So my daughter and I make do by using the “drop out” option that lets one player leave the game so the other player can have the full screen to perform some task that really needs the whole screen to accomplish. This is something of a weakness of the game, in my opinion. Any number of times you have to take over some huge laser cannon and blow up an objective in the distance, only to have your screen cut diagonally across your view by you partner who is trying to knock off some droid troopers who have just shown up.
The game itself has all the things we have become used to in TT’s LEGO games, unlocks, hidden items, fun puzzles, and lots and lots of LEGO objects waiting to be smashed to pieces, an aspect of the game that is more satisfying in some visceral than it probably should be. And it never gets old! Never!
There are some new features. You can now command a platoon sized group of clones, using them to target specific structures that need rapid fire to destroy. There are a number of battlefield scenarios where you have to destroy separatist structures and capture their power sources to build Republic structure. This includes a mini-map at the top of the screen which the Wii, its output limited to 480p, is unable to display clearly. I would like to see the whole thing on 1080p output.
And then there is that clone troop with the Gatling blaster in the Ryloth missions. I could just run around shooting that thing all day long.
Reviews of the game have come up in the “mediocre” range of 6.0-7.5 on a lot of sites. The DS and 3DS versions, which lack a number of the new features, score at the low end, while the home console versions rank a little higher. The main complaints, paraphrased by me, seem to be “not much new, and what is new gets over used.”
I cannot really argue with that.
We are only 30% into the game, but it still seems like a lot of fun us. If you wanted more LEGO Star Wars, you’ll probably like it. That is where we stand. We wanted more and we got it.
If you did not like the past versions, you probably won’t like this any better.
And I am looking forward to the next installment from TT, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.
[Keen and Graev have a nice review of LEGO Star Wars III posted.]