In the words of project lead Feargus Carroll, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels "is the game people have been waiting for." It is the game that will finally allow players to wield the Wii Remote as if it were an honest-to-goodness Jedi (or Sith) lightsaber. From the all-important feeling of power to the "Vroom" noises (replicated by the Wii Remote's built-in speaker, rather than the player's mouth), Lightsaber Duels has more than a generation of oft-denied but ever-present "roleplaying" to live up to. With little more than two weeks between now and the game's European launch on November 14, 2008, Cubed3 takes a look at how everything is shaping up.
While Lightsaber Duels does feature a single player campaign which recreates key battles from the Clone Wars television series, its main draw — and the focus of this hands-on article — is multiplayer. This takes the form of one-on-one battles between any two characters from the TV show, including: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Count Dooku, General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, Ashoka Tano, and so on. It's possible for two players to choose the same character, although the in-game banter can become somewhat confusing after a while. In addition to having access to a handful of combo moves, each character varies in terms of power, speed, and the like. Count Dooku, for example, is slower and harder to master than Anakin, but he's more powerful when used properly. This ensures, in theory, that experienced gamers have the opportunity to master the game's mechanics, while more casual players can simply pick up, play, and have fun.
The battles themselves can be broken down into a few core elements: lightsaber waggling, reflex contests, and force powers. The former, unsurprisingly, constitutes the bulk of each battle. Swinging the Wii Remote up, down, left, right, or forward (for lunges) causes the player's lightsaber to move accordingly. While the motion detection isn't 1:1, it is pleasantly accurate and responsive. The over-enthusiastic nature of Jedi impersonations actually helps to keep things fluid, provided you're not too concerned about looking like a bit of a plonker. The reflex contests occur when two characters swing at each other at the same time. After some in-game smack talk, players are required to swing their Wii Remote in certain directions at certain intervals. The first person to do this sufficiently well is given a brief window to pummel their opponent without fear of retaliation. It's an interesting feature that is both reminiscent of lightsaber confrontations in the Star Wars movies and useful for breaking up long periods of waggling (which can begin to take its toll on player's limbs after a while.)
The aforementioned force powers come in two flavours: the ability to pick up and throw scenery at opponents by thrusting the Nunchuk, and character-specific moves such as the force push. Both of these require a certain amount of force energy, which is built up with successful lightsaber attacks and represented by a bar alongside the usual health meter. Both help to prevent battles from becoming monotonous and serve as a particularly good way of surprising players who have become obsessed with the waggle equivalent of button bashing. Unfortunately, our time with Lightsaber Duels did include an off-putting amount of seemingly unavoidable situations involving one player forcing the other into a corner with incessant attacks. Thankfully, the problem was somewhat rectified with sufficient mastery of the parry command. While we were hardly (Jedi) masters by the end of our play test, it became clear that the parry will be key in separating the core from the casual while ensuring that both are having a good time and neither is being pummelled unduly.
Beyond solid combat mechanics, Lightsaber Duels is chock-full of Star Wars charm that should appeal to both fans of the new Clone Wars television series and movie (which are aimed at 8-12 year olds) as well as long time fans of the franchise. While the visual style may not be to everyone's tastes, it is undoubtedly a unique style that happens to look rather great in motion. With only two characters on screen at one time, developer Krome Studios has been able to ensure that everything looks highly polished and fluid. Environments — of which there are a great many, including those that will be familiar to Star Wars fans and those of that have been built exclusively for the game — look great and all include unique features, be it destructive scenery or dangerous set pieces such as fire from Stormtroopers or falling meteors that can inflict damage on the unwary player. As with most Star Wars games, Lightsaber Duels doesn't disappoint in the audio department either. From classic sound effects and music to brand new dialogue recorded by the actors who work on the TV show, your ears are in for a treat.
Even without the Wii MotionPlus-powered 1:1 interactions many have been dreaming of, Lightsaber Duels provides an enjoyable simulation of the embarrassing Jedi impersonations
we've all been secretly doing in our bedrooms since we were kids we used to do in our more impressionable years. Responsive controls and a healthy dose of Star Wars nostalgia mean that Lightsaber Duels looks to be a game worthy of your attention even if you fall outside of the 8-12 year-old target market and have no interest in the Clone Wars movie and television show upon which it is based. Whether the pick-up-and-play combat system proves to be sufficiently deep for more experienced players to enjoy in the long-term is a question that will have to be answered upon further investigation, though.
Yeah, nice preview Karn! Shame the final product seems to be getting average reviews from certain sources...Perhaps the next Wii version that uses MotionPlus will be better.
Good stuff, though I agree with Adam - shame it isn't as good as one had hoped for the remote!
There is a lot of starwars games these days.
Pfft, I'd rather get Wii Sports 2, They have that sword fighting game on there, plus lots more. >_>