Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes was released this week amid Season 2 premiere excitement and on virtually every relevant gaming platform out there. I will admit, as I tend to scour the net for Star Wars links, articles and features, that I have read a couple reviews prior to writing my own. Unfortunately, I have not seen the most positive reviews out there, but would like to offer up a bit of a counter perspective if I may. The following is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game...
As the second season of The Clone Wars drifts into some darker material, one might wonder if some of the younger Clone Wars fans will be lost in the more mature themes. Some parents may even be considering censoring a few episodes for the youngest of youngling fans. That's where a game like Republic Heroes comes in. This one's for the kids. This one's for parents to play with their kids...or for siblings to play together...and for friends...and how about distant cousins at random boring family functions. The fun is in the co-op gameplay that is somewhat reminiscent of the co-op play of LEGO Star Wars or even Gauntlet. Now, make no mistake about it, this isn't quite up to the brilliance LEGO: SW, but younger TCW fans should love it.
Best described as a Star Wars Jedi hack and slash game with some shooting and vehicles, Republic Heroes dumps you (as a Jedi) right into the action following the events of the Season 1 Ryloth Trilogy. Yoda continually pops in with hints and directions and the gameplay is rather simple. Jumping to tiny platforms over chasms and tight-rope style walking is commonplace and the platforming aids in what would seem to be difficult maneuvers. This is necessary as the camera angles can range from far away, to rather odd angles which can not be controlled. The aid is not always perfect as in some places you have to be jumping from just the right spot to reach your intended destination. That being said, save points thoughout the levels are everywhere and your lives are unlimited. Droids are a plently and, though repetative, are quite fun to dismantle, especially when they're pouring in at you in waves. Jedi attacks range from (but are not limited to) regular lightsaber slashes, Force-push and a lightsaber throw that reminds me of the one used in Jedi Academy a few years back. The new droid-jacking feature, which allows you to take over a droid by jumping on it, offers a bit of a variety to the destruction. Some droids are more fun and easier to control than others.
Clone trooper play is fun but fleeting as most of the levels seem to be Jedi driven. It ends up being a fun surprise when trooper levels pop up and be prepared to do some computer slicing as opposed to droid-jacking on those levels. New and familiar clones appear as do some fun vehicles, but the game's bread and butter is in the Jedi gameplay.
Upgraded skills can be purchased based on points earned from enemies killed as can character masks and cheats. As you play through the levels green challenge indicators will pop up allowing you and your partner to engage in various challenges while competing against each other for the higher score. This can range from simply destroying as many droids as possible to having to dispense of enemies in specific ways. Make sure to check the specifics of the challenge before diving in as it's kind of easy to overlook the directions. It should also be noted that once beaten in story mode, levels can be replayed in more of a free mode with a variety of Jedi and Clone character choices.
Visually the game is rather average (we're really spoiled by the qulality of what we're seeing in the second season of the series) though the sound is fantastic from the music to the voice-overs. Really the only major negative to highlight is the use of the camera angles. Distant at times, frustrating at others, I just wish they could be controlled more by the player as opposed to being guided by where your character is standing on screen.
Again, I drift back to the fact that this game is for the kids. Adult gamers looking for something akin to The Force Unleahsed but with Clone Wars characters need look elsewhere. It's just not that type of game in its detail or gameplay. Think more of a linear Gauntlet feel with TCW characters and your headed in a better direction.
I give Republic Heroes a 3.5 out of 5 based on the fun family style co-op play. I must admit that I'm basing much of my review on the fun I had playing it with my 3 year old. No he isn't great at it, but on the easy setting, he can get by with a little help from Dad. Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans should have fun with Republic Heroes while hard-core non-Star Wars lovin' gamers will pick it apart; much in the same way non-Star Wars movie fans pick apart the prequels and animated series. The real question is, do we really care what the non-fans think?