The Five: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes
The Skinny: Over the last few years, it's become clear that the best possible future for the Star Wars mythos lies away from the movie screen. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed reinvigorated those who had their faith shaken by the prequel trilogy, and BioWare's massively-multiplayer The Old Republic looks to deliver the kind of vibrant universe Star Wars fans expect. On television, the animated "The Clone Wars" has kept the Force fires burning, and LucasArts is bringing the wartime series to consoles.
1. The people who bring you the show also bring you The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes. Steven Melching, a screenwriter from the hit show, penned the game's plot. While it's not being internally developed at LucasArts, Lucasfilm Animation provided Australian game studio Krome with character models and backgrounds from the show. Republic Heroes bridges the gap between the first and second seasons of the "Clone Wars" animated series.
2. For those who love both the noble Jedi warriors and the scrappy Clone Troopers, don't worry: You'll get to play as both. Playing as Anakin, Obi-Wan or other Jedi will be more about hand-to-hand and lightsaber combat, while Clone Troopers like Commander Cody will wield a varied arsenal of ranged weapons. It's good to know you'll have different strategic options in the middle of a crazy galactic war.
3. An all-new Jedi ability makes its debut in Republic Heroes. Called droid-jacking, the new Force power lets Jedi commandeer any robot in the game. So, enemy automatons can be hijacked and turned against the opposing Separatist forces. Think of it as the in-game equivalent to "Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself."
4. Republic Heroes continues the annoying trend of action games that offer a team-up option, but limit it to offline play. LucasArts reps say the focus is on a father-and-son model, where both players will plowing through levels while sitting on a couch together. But, what if little Johnny's got a friend he wants to play with online? Looks like they're out of luck.
5. Another new mechanic comes in the form of Instant Challenge moments -- i.e., who can kill the most enemies in a short span of time. These spontaneous built-in competitions will churn out more bonuses and upgrade points to the better player. The Force may be strong in this one, but stocking up on in-game currency won't hurt either.
The Crispy Forecast: Partly sunny, with a high probability of incessant blaster fire. "Clone Wars" can be remarkably dark for a mainstream TV cartoon. Hopefully, the close creative relationships in Lucasfilm and LucasArts will deliver a rollicking Star Wars story. If Krome turns out enough action and visual sizzle to make the game fun, it might just redeem Anakin Skywalker's reputation as a whiny cranky-pants.
This preview is based on a developer-driven demo of the game at a publisher event.