If you are to think of a series that has been over saturated with video games, Star Wars would certainly be up there at the top. After running out of ideas on how to create titles for the core series, the interest has now moved over to The Clone Wars, the little sister to the big daddy of the franchise. The Clone Wars has seen a film and TV series, and several video games, all of which follow a CGI cartoon style that is aimed more at a younger audience than usual.
For followers of the TV series, Republic Heroes takes place between Season 1 and Season 2. Not having watched the TV series myself I cannot comment on the games connection, but I expect it resembles closely as I found my feet with the story and characters quickly, helped by their familiar cartoon representations and voice acting (Anakin is still a big cry baby).
For anyone that has played Lego Star Wars (or any of the Lego games in fact) you will find a familiar gameplay experience. Keeping a younger audience in mind, Republic Heroes is a platform game that holds your hand through most of the game, has little in terms of depth and is very forgiving. Unfortunately the series loses out by not having the charming atmosphere of the Lego titles, nor the advantage of using a well established and much loved storyline.
As you plod through the levels you will be continually hitting checkpoints, as frequent as everyone 15seconds. If you die at any time you will be instantly respawned at one of these checkpoints, which removes any threat of death. This will be frequent as the game has you pinned in often to a single screen and surrounded by enemies firing from all angles. Worse than this are the constant platform elements, which have you jumping across extremely thin ledges that require pin point precision in order to land, which is a frustration to no end given that the camera positioning (which cannot be moved) can often give a poor sense of depth.
The above common complications of the platform genre would be ignorable if it wasn’t the focus of the game, which unfortunately has you repeating the same key actions over and over. From the start of the game to the end you will be jumping across thin platforms that when landed your character will become attached (removing danger of falling off), pressing the same button to slice or shoot foes to smithereens due to lack of combat options, and lastly solving the same extremely simplistic two puzzles over and over. The first puzzle is blowing up a generic object of a large size by riding an enemy into it, the second being use switches to open doors or move platforms. Even the few boss fights in the game are the exact same gameplay mechanics repeated, having no variety or complexity of any nature. Whilst this is good given the titles intended audience, even a child would become bored of repeating the same actions over time and time again.
The game attempts to add variety by having numerous challenges scattered around levels which challenge you to gain as many points as possible against your teammate. These challenges are either defeating enemies or collecting orbs, and typically house some form of requirement such as needing to use force powers only (basically push, as that and sabre throw is all that is on offer). There are also collectable artifacts hidden throughout the game, 50 in total.
Throughout the game you will take the role of several characters which identically in two categories, Jedi and Clones. You will change between these two roles through the game and each have their own control scheme. The Jedi has a normal swing which will be used most but you are also able to do some dives, sabre throws and force pushes. Platforming segments are for the Jedi only as their agile double jump nature is more fitting than the Clones that are unable to jump, apart from a short jetpack air boost. As a Clone you can shoot in all directions when running with the right analogue stick. Outside of this you can get pickup weapons, such as grenades, rocket launchers and miniguns – the last two which typically cause more trouble than help.
As you destroy countless enemies you will be rewarded with points in which you can spend for combat, graphical and bonus upgrades. One such upgrade is the ability to make droids dance, which is quite strange as it renders all droids in the area inactive dancing as you slice away. This is one option of ‘droid-jaking’, a heavily used and focused upon gameplay mechanic in which you can jump on top of any droid and either force smash them, control them for a short period (making use of their attacks) or when purchased... make them dance.
Graphically the game is rather appealing. Whilst the environments are not full of life and vibrancy, this is fitting to the games style and cartoon graphics. The characters look like their real counterparts whilst fitting the TV series and film. Audio falls on the same page with fitting audio and good voice acting that is comparable to standard you would expect from the film.
Whilst there is a lot of room for improvement, a lot, there is enjoyment to be had especially for a younger gamer in short bursts. The problem comes when the genre is saturated to its current level, with some fantastic gaming experiences to be had. Due to this reason Republic Heroes would be best left to fanatics or only those that have already done the better competitions game and are looking for that next fix. Either way, may the force be with you.