Those who listen to the podcast may have heard that my birthday was on May 4. As such, the ever oh so generous Cameron wanted to get me a gift. That gift was Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes for the PC. And that’s why we’re all here today.
Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes (try saying that five times fast) is a co-op action/platforming title developed by Krome Studios. Krome isn’t exactly a well respected developer, but they are one of the only few independent studios doing work for major publishers in Australia - so points for them I guess. That’s where the points stop though.
Krome Studios used to not be bad. They developed Ty the Tasmanian Tiger - a game that I never played, but fans swear up and down that it’s one of the best platformers of the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era. I’m gonna take their word for it because it’s all I have. Anyway, their real trouble started in 2007 when Microsoft contracted them to make Viva Pinata: Party Animals. After that, LucasArts turned them into a Star Wars workhorse.
Now, enough about Krome. Let’s get on with the game, shall we?
Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes is best described as LEGO Star Wars without the LEGO. Now, that’s not inherently a bad thing. Sure the LEGO games get by with their derivative gameplay by having buckets of charm, but surely Republic Heroes has at least a single bucket of charm in it, right? Right? Maybe a cup of charm? How about a droplet? No?
OK, look, Republic Heroes apes the style of The Clone Wars TV series. No, not that awesome Genndy Tartakovsky series. The crappy one where George Lucas threw Genndy’s work into a computer and just expected it to work. It’s much the same filmmaking style he applied to the prequels and we all know how those worked out.
Anyway, the game obviously can’t look anywhere near as clean as the TV series, and that’s even with forced MSAA. All the characters look absolutely lifeless, and some are best described as nightmare muppets. No seriously, take a look at Yoda:
Now, I don’t believe in absolute zero badness. There’s always a redeeming factor and Republic Heroes’ visuals do have one thing going for it. The outer space shots with the planets in the background look absolutely marvelous.
Unfortunately, the environments on the planets look like somebody took the airbrush, cracked it open and just let whatever came out of it to flow all over the canvas. In other words, it's a mess.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Benevolent Zach, I care not these “graphics.” I only want to hear about the gameplay. Well, I was really hoping you would stop reading by now so I wouldn’t have to get into that. But since you insist...
Remember how I said that Republic Heroes was like the LEGO games minus the LEGO? Yeah, that applies to the gameplay as well. The characters can jump, swing a lightsaber and throw the force around like a belligerent drunk throws around insults in an alley at midnight. That is to say - it’s completely ineffective and doesn’t hurt anyone.
So, you ask, the combat is bad? I wouldn’t classify it as bad. It definitely works when it wants to. I just often found myself hitting the X button next to enemies hoping to slice them in two, but only finding Anakin or Obi-Wan swinging their lightsabers at thin air in the opposite direction. This is especially annoying during boss fights where there’s only one target, but these “Jedi” seem content to swing their lightsabers at anything but the gelatinous ooze monster that’s threatening to blow up the galaxy.
Speaking of boss fights, the game lacks variety. Players are forced to fight the aforementioned gelatinous ooze monster three times throughout the game. The pattern of attack only ever changes during the final boss fight, and even then, the only difference is that you're now balancing on floating platforms while fighting.
Now that may seem hard, but trust me, it’s not. In fact, Republic Heroes is insultingly easy. Sure, you can’t die, just like in the LEGO games, but those games never feel condescending. Republic Heroes makes you feel stupid for trying too hard. For example, the very first boss fight in the game requires players to force hold a robotic leg down and then climb up said leg to slash out an eye. Now, that sounds incredibly simple, but the solution to this boss fight was frustratingly ambiguous. It didn’t help that the nightmare muppet version of Yoda kept on appearing to tell me that I was doing it wrong, but never actually explaining how I was doing it wrong. In the end, it only helped me to understand Luke’s frustration with the little green guy on Dagobah.
After all this, you might be thinking - “Great and powerful Zach, is there anything you enjoyed in this game?” Actually, yes! I thoroughly enjoyed any of the levels that allowed me to play as one of the Clone Troopers. It was an excellent change of pace from the Jedi levels, and the levels themselves were actually fun. Of course, this comes from my adoration of twin stick arcade shooters, and the Clone Trooper levels deliver that kind of arcade action in spades.
Beyond that, however, there’s little in this game that I liked. The Jedi gameplay is dull, the boss fights are terrible, the environments are bland, and the game just kind of ends with no closure whatsoever.
That being said, there is one thing about this game that is truly phenomenal - Anakin Skywalker wearing an abnormally large Indiana Jones-style fedora: