Few brands are as instantly recognizable as LEGO. From the giant collection of minifigs to the simple, eight-stud brick, LEGO has remained one of the best-selling brands of collectables and (dare I say) toys for decades. In recent years, LEGO has extended its reach to computer games. Of these games, the Star Wars series has catapulted in popularity as players experience the world of Star Wars through the humor and simplicity of LEGO.
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars recently came out on OS X, and has been made available through the Mac App Store. So, how does Star Wars III: The Clone Wars play out on the Mac?
The default player controls for LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars are a mess. Not only is there seemingly no mouse support, but getting accustomed to the default key layout is like breaking and resetting bones. Before I was able to play with any semblance of skill, I had to reconfigure nearly all of the key controls. Once that was out of the way, things flowed a little better.
I use a small keyboard, and because of this I found controlling the game to be a bit of a pain. Unless I’m typing or doing some other short-term task, I hate having both hands on the keyboard. During gaming, the position of having one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse becomes second nature, and for a 3D game that plays in third person, I found this lack of support somewhat irritating. Still, the game is made to cater to a very young audience, and that means simplicity is key.
If you have a console-style controller that you can plug in to your Mac, do so. This game is built for that control style, and it is leaps and bounds better than using a keyboard.
Other than that, your character’s abilities are pretty easy to pick up and remember. Jedi can use the force, a lightsaber, and jump. Each character you can control (and switch between using the U key while facing the other character) has their own somewhat simple abilities. For example, a Clone Trooper has both a blaster and a pretty interesting grenade weapon that takes forever to set off, but is worth it when it does.
There are various doors and latches that can only be accessed by certain characters. Your R2 unit is needed in various places, but so is your Jedi character. You can build minifig droids using the Force that either obey or attack you once completed. The ones that obey may help you unlock the key to solving a zone.
Over all, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars plays like a series of simple puzzles with occasional combat sprinkled in to keep things interesting. This series is designed with young kids in mind, and it’s for this reason that many of the simplistic decisions were made in its development over a richer and more challenging gaming experience.
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars takes the player through two seasons of the animated series, not the second movie in the prequel. If you only watched the movies and are confused by the familiar opening scene followed by completely unfamiliar storyline following afterwords, this is why.
You don’t hear a lot of dialogue beyond grumbles and groaning from the cast, which is true to LEGO style. There are also plenty of silly side-notes taking place through the cutscenes. For example, the Trade Federation is eating ice cream as prisoners are being escorted to their execution. Anakin and Padme share a romantic dance as they fend off attacks from all sides in an area filled with battle droids. If you’re searching for a serious Star Wars game, this isn’t it.
The plot is generously enriched by an abundance of side quests and other activities that you can take part in as a player. Even if the plot itself bores you, the game is about having fun as a LEGO character in the Star Wars Universe. Still, the game itself comes off as a bit dull based on plot alone.
The graphics of this and any LEGO game should be graded on a curve. LEGO is intended to be comprised of simple shapes and patterns, but there are areas where corners appear to have clearly been cut. The B2 Super Battle Droid is one example of a cut corner. The figure itself looks passable as a minifig, but there’s little to no texturing at all. After a while, you’re left wondering if the game creators intended to make this otherwise intimidating and awesome droid appear like little more than a grey blob.
This game caters to the young crowd, first and foremost. Simple characters and silly LEGO creations are intended to appeal to that audience, and it does so fairly well.
If you’re playing on a 1080p screen, you’re going to want to turn on Anti-Aliasing immediately after loading. Otherwise, the pixelation is almost unbearable to look at.
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is fun. While the controls are difficult for older players to become accustomed to, it has a fun flair to it that is hard not to enjoy. The plot may be stale, and the graphics somewhat lackluster, but the fun of this game is in experiencing the world of Star Wars in a way that only LEGO can present. In this, Clone Wars certainly doesn’t disappoint.
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars can be purchased for US$29.99 at the Mac App Store.