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Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes (PlayStation 3) artwork

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes (PlayStation 3) review


"I'm a big fan of games that refrain from forcing the player to re-play lengthy segments that he's already conquered just to tackle a challenging bit at the end, but Republic Heroes accommodates amateur gamers to a crippling extreme. There are maybe two or three segments in the whole game where you'll have to make more than three or four jumps without passing another checkpoint. Not only that, but anything that you've accomplished remains in place. So if you pass a checkpoint just ahead of a shootout with a bunch of enemies, the most you lose if you die is 2 or 3 seconds of play before you can return to the fray to mop up any of the remaining enemies who didn't fall on your first attempt."



If you're reading this review and you're thinking that maybe you'll buy Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes, I surely don't need to tell you that "Star Wars" can be absolutely thrilling. With lightsaber duels, space shootouts and fantastic alien planets, the universe that George Lucas created has all of the elements that writers will ever need to craft a science fiction fan's wet dream. Likewise, the video games often bring many of the most obvious elements to the forefront, with varying degrees of success but almost always with a huge helping of excitement.

Republic Heroes is one of the rare exceptions. Despite featuring what had the potential to be a suitably thrilling plot that spans four sprawling planet environments and tracks the adventures of several heroic Jedi warriors and their padawans, the game stumbles at several critical points.

The first problem is the difficulty level. Since this is based on an animated series, I'll assume that the audience for which Krome Studios (the game's developer) was aiming comes closer to age 12 than 30. However, gamers of all ages are up for a challenge and they won't find one here. There are some moments where you'll have to battle hordes of droid troops, leap across dangerous ledges over a gaping abyss and even hop onto a hover bike to speed down corridors where a crash could wait around every corner. Those moments had the potential to be difficult, but they're not because you can hardly take a step without stumbling across another checkpoint.

I'm a big fan of games that refrain from forcing the player to re-play lengthy segments that he's already conquered just to tackle a challenging bit at the end, but Republic Heroes accommodates amateur gamers to a crippling extreme. There are maybe two or three segments in the whole game where you'll have to make more than three or four jumps without passing another checkpoint. Not only that, but anything that you've accomplished remains in place. So if you pass a checkpoint just ahead of a shootout with a bunch of enemies, the most you lose if you die is 2 or 3 seconds of play before you can return to the fray to mop up any of the remaining enemies who didn't fall on your first attempt.

A second issue that I have with the game is the frequency with which you must make leaps that are difficult only because you can't be sure that you'll land on the next ledge. Most games of this sort force you to actually watch for your shadow to judge jumps, but Republic Heroes does things a bit differently. When you make a leap, you move so quickly between narrow ledges that you can't really judge where you'll land. Instead, you have to aim for the ledge ahead of time, hope that you're facing where you should (something that often isn't obvious), then go flying and cross your fingers for the best. Double jumps have been implemented, but they don't actually make you jump further. Instead, tapping the 'X' button a second time while airborne often pulls you to the next ledge like a magnet. This means that jumping is more about luck than skill. Couple that with the frequent checkpoints and any tension that a gauntlet of jumps could have held is completely removed.

Combat had the opportunity to beef things up a bit, but also suffers from the afore-mentioned checkpoint issue and thus serves as a third strike against the game. After all, your only reason to even bother fighting properly is that you don't want to have to wait a second every now and then as your Jedi or clone reappears after falling in battle. Temporary death isn't likely, anyway, because for the most part you have all the power that you need to sweep aside your enemies with Force waves or bullets before they can even attack. Even the more challenging foes can often be killed in a hit or two if you jump onto their backs and press the 'Triangle' button, or if you rush in and swing your lightsaber like a man possessed. Boss battles even lose their tension once you realize that you can't lose. There literally is no "Game Over" screen.

The flaws that I've pointed to could perhaps have been overlooked if the game beefed things up with some real variety, but it does not. There are 40 missions from beginning to end, each requiring anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of play to clear, but only around half of those bring anything new to the experience. You'll be facing the same basic enemies in the last hours of play as you will the first few. Nearly every time something new is added, you can count on seeing it repeated either within the same stage or in one to follow. The plot for the most part doesn't require such repetition, so I can only assume that the developers were trying to pad the total play time required to clear the game. That attempt was successful, but it also ensured that almost every minute of play turned out half as good as it could have been if a little bit more restraint had been exercised.

I've come down on Republic Heroes pretty hard, and it deserves it, but I don't want to leave the impression that the game has no redeeming qualities. The problem is that each positive is balanced out by a negative. For example...

The plot is quite interesting and really provides a sense of scope as it follows multiple groups of heroes attempting to save their universe from a threat they don't initially understand. You'll see and hear all of the main characters from the cartoon show and they look and sound precisely as they should. However, because the story jumps around a lot you really have to pay attention so that you don't get lost in the proceedings. By the time you get back to the adventure of Anakin and Ahsoka to see how they got out of the jam in which they found themselves, for instance, you might have forgotten just what problem they were even having.

The environments are massive, with wide ledges that are perfect for thrilling shootouts. You really get a panoramic view of wide pits that must be leaped across and there are some infrequent moments that are breathtaking in their grandeur. If you have a large, widescreen television, that really hits home. If you have an older television, though, or a small one, it's sometimes difficult to even tell what's happening on the screen. I say this from experience, as I played it both ways. A decent television is an absolute necessity.

In the end, Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes just isn't a very good game. It has an assortment of serious issues, but the most crippling one of all is that it doesn't trust the player to have a good time. That's evident in the ridiculous checkpoint system and in the repetitive combat and environments. Mostly, it's evident in the way that I don't care if I ever play it again. I'm guessing that most other gamers will feel the same way.

Rating: 4/10

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (November 01, 2009)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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randxian posted November 07, 2009:

Not sure I agree with your assessment here. While I enjoy easy games, I agree there should be enough challenge to keep the player interested.

However, I think you have to consider the other side of the coin. If they made this game too hard, people would be calling out how this game in inconsistent. You play as a Jedi Knight, of course nothing should be challenging save a duel with a Sith Lord. We can't have the galaxy's protectors turned into mashed potatoes by a bunch of tin cans.

But I do agree that more focus should be made on the actual game play itself instead of throwing in dozens of check points as a duct tape solution.

I also like how you point out you almost need a wide screen TV to play the game effectively. Way to really go the extra mile.

As an avid Star Wars fans, I would be more perturbed if this game was difficult, because I would be one of those complaining about how a Jedi shouldn't have so much trouble.
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zippdementia posted November 07, 2009:

If you don't mind me saying, Jason, I think this review has issues that are due to a meandering start that Randxian also seems to have had trouble with.

I don't mind your designation of the game as easy. I like the fact that you, as always, point out where this was coming from in the developer's mind (12 year olds may not be as good as oldern gamers). Such points make your pieces come off as more professional because you are showing that you understand the mind of a developer and are not just a rabid fan who stumbled across the ability to code a site and write reviews. So, kudos for that.

But I think your point on difficulty is a bit confusing. Shortly after complaining that the game isn't hard enough (a complaint you manage fairly well but don't really drive home until you talk about checkpoints not resetting enemies... that brings to mind Bioshock) you suddenly complain that the jumps are too hard.

You manage to explain where you are coming from with the jumps and you sort've tie it back in with the checkpoints (though that switches it back to too easy again!), but for me it was a very awkward layout. Going from "too easy" to "too hard" (and ultimately back to "too easy") made it sound like you weren't really sure where you wanted the difficulty to lie, rather than making it sound like the developers didn't understand how to design a game.

It sounds like what you're really trying to say is that the designers built a game that was too hard but compensated by using checkpoints as a lazy man's fix. Or it might be that what you mean is that the difficulty level is all over the place thanks to some poor platforming sections and that developers use checkpoints as a lazy man's fix. In either case, it sounds like you should've started with that point rather than the line "the difficulty is too easy."

The last half of the review is much easier to follow, as it's the more traditional "this was good, but..." It might've been a little bit more formulaic, but it was easy to follow and I like the points you make because they seem fair and unbiased, leading me to believe that, ultimately, your review is trustworthy (and, hell, I know from personal experience that you know what you're talking about).

However, getting to that ending is a little rough. Just my thoughts.
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randxian posted November 07, 2009:

Yeah, I too didn't particularly care for "The game is too easy", followed by "The platforming is too hard."

But I was able to brush that aside at least to some degree for a couple of reasons: I did get the impression the check points were indeed a lazy fix. Also, you mention that the player would be at a disadvantage with a smaller TV. Okay, I'll buy that.

Again, my main problem is given the subject matter of the game, Jedi Knights, most Star Wars fans would expect them to breeze through just about anything. It's almost as if you put too much effort into addressing the average gamer and not the Star Wars fan. I mean who is really going to be interested in this game besides people who have watched the movies several dozen times and can quote all six cannon espides frontwards and backwards?
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honestgamer posted November 07, 2009:

It doesn't matter that you're playing as an all-powerful Jedi. As we know from the films, Jedi warriors die, particularly against the enemies that they're facing in this game. If the game is not difficult--and it isn't--then that's out of line with the reality that Lucas and company presented in the second and third episodes (and likely the cartoon series itself, which I've not seen).

The jumps that I mentioned aren't really difficult at all because the game ensures that you never need to make more than a few at once without a checkpoint. I fell into pits with some frequency, for the reasons mentioned in the review, but I wasn't going back and forth on difficulty in my review. Perhaps I need to make that clearly, but my intent wasn't to contrast anything. The jumps are difficult to judge but they don't make the game itself difficult because death is frequent and meaningless.

I thought about BioShock in this case, but honestly BioShock isn't really a fair comparison because BioShock was a compelling game with plenty of remaining difficult despite the vita chambers. Star Wars is not compelling and there's no difficulty, not even a real penalty for dying. If it weren't for a few puzzles throughout that require occasional ingenuity, a blindfolded chimp could probably beat this game.

I didn't want to go too deep into a lot of the points mentioned in this thread because even though I could, the review would have drug on forever. This is one of those bad games where a person could feel pages, but I was trying to keep length down to a lower number and I also didn't have much time to write it. Thanks for reading, and I'm glad that ultimately my points came across. My goal wasn't necessarily to make you agree with me or my general concept on the game's difficulty. Rather, I was trying to give the reader a feel for how the game plays so that he could make up his own mind. From what I can tell, we all three agree that I've done so.
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zippdementia posted November 08, 2009:

Well, we sort've agree. The end result is good, as a whole, but I still think that particular grouping of paragraphs is awkward.
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randxian posted November 08, 2009:

It doesn't matter that you're playing as an all-powerful Jedi. As we know from the films, Jedi warriors die, particularly against the enemies that they're facing in this game.

Yeah, but at the end of Episode 2, they were friggin outnumbered like a 1000 to 1. In Episode 3, the Clone Troopers turned on them without warning. Remember the line in Episode 4 about how Han Solo mentions the living are much more dangerous than remotes? Living Clone Troopers are far more dangerous than droids, especially when they have the element of surprise.

Given normal, usual circumstances, the Jedi kick ass. Yes, I realize I sound like a rabid Star Wars fanboy here, but I'm proud of it. :D
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zigfried posted November 08, 2009:

After reading the review, I don't see an issue with the parts about difficulty. It sounds like the game is insultingly easy, but there are some jumps that can kill you just because of bad design. Those are times when I prefer to use the word "challenge". A game can be difficult but not challenging, usually as the result of poor design.

Regarding the Jedi bit, the Jedi knights kicked ass because they were masters of their craft. If a Jedi leapt into battle with droids and failed to use any of their super-awesome abilities or attack methods, and just swung blindly, they'd most likely die. It's like the strongest of the feudal samurai; they were masters of their craft, but they had to always be on top of their game or even a lowly bandit could cut them down.

Even the more challenging foes can often be killed in a hit or two if you jump onto their backs and press the 'Triangle' button, or if you rush in and swing your lightsaber like a man possessed.

It sounds like this game doesn't expect players to fight intelligently in the style of a Jedi master; people can simply run in like a loon who got his hands on a lightsabre.

As an aside, I thought the Jedi massacre in Episode III was really lame. Even caught by surprise, some of those deaths were pathetic and made the Jedi look weak!

//Zig
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zippdementia posted November 10, 2009:

Spoiler: the new star wars movies were terrible.
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randxian posted November 10, 2009:

Episodes 1 and 2 could've been better. Episode 3 is awesome. The Clone Wars is good for what it's worth. Yeah, The Clone Wars is not a great movie, but it does have a lot of action and the Jedi kicking ass, which is all that matters in my book.

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