When Nintendo first revealed the Wii’s motion-sensitive controller, every single male in the audience (do not argue with us on this. It’s not an exaggeration; it’s a proven scientific fact) turned to the guy next to him and whispered excitedly, “Lightsaber game!” Every single male in the audience then responded, “Dude, I just said that!” And one hopeless ubernerd named Arnold Kalinsky followed with “Jinx! You owe me a Coke” and was summarily beaten to death with his own uvula because really, what other choice did the mob have after a statement like that? True Story.
The point is: everyone wants a kick-ass lightsaber game. Everyone. But the wait must continue because Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels is absolutely, indisputably, unquestionably, without a doubt not that game. It has Star Wars. It has lightsabers. It does not have kick-ass. At all.
Lightsaber Duels simply has too many problems. It starts off with the most promising premise ever, but turns the wrong direction every single time it hits a T in the road and has to make a decision. It’s like that beautiful-but-snarky babe in every horror movie who takes off to have hot sex with her boyfriend but then gets up for a glass of water, somehow gets lost on her way to the next room, and ends up hanging naked from a tree ten miles away with a tire iron jammed through her neck.
For example, let’s look at the camera and controls. Swinging the remote up, down, left and right makes the lightsaber go in the same directions, and a forward thrust is indeed a stabbing motion. But for a more powerful force-fueled attack, you hold Z – located on the nunchuk, not the remote – and swing as normal. Things are starting to get silly, aren’t they?
To parry, you hold B and swing in the opposite direction of your enemy. Okaaay, that might happen. When sabers lock, you shake the remote or follow the onscreen prompts – double blech. And force-throwing objects is holding C, and then shaking the nunchuk. That’s right: the nunchuk. You’ve been using it all along to move your character around onscreen. And you’ve been using A to jump, roll, and dodge. You see, this isn’t first-person. It’s third. And even more confusing, the camera isn’t locked behind your shoulder, so you’ll watch your character flip and roll all over the place. Which makes it quite a challenge to always keep track of left and right.
See what we’re getting at? There’s no connection between you and your saber. We want to feel like we’re actually moving the thing around onscreen ourselves. We want to parry by meeting our opponent’s downward slash with an angled block and a flick of the wrist. We want to feel a direct, one-to-one connection with what we’re doing with our hands and what our onscreen character is up to. But you’ll find none of that here.
As if to further remind you that you could just as easily control this game with any dual analog controller, each of the 10 playable characters boasts five canned combos, which you can pull off by flicking your wrist in a certain sequence of directions (Grievous’ Great Jedi Purge is up, left, down, stab, for example). But you’re likely to win more easily even at higher difficulty settings by forgetting technique and instead just waving the remote around as if someone glued it to your hand and set it on fire.
Finally, we know that Clone Wars is the big, new chapter that LucasArts is pushing now. We get that. And we get that there simply weren’t that many lightsaber users in the original trilogy. But to finally give us a lightsaber game, even a crap one, and not enable us to take on the role of Luke Skywalker and battle Darth Vader? That’s just freaking cruel.
So, what’s good? Well, everything moves swiftly, and the arenas are pretty big and intricate. Plus, there’s a fascinating new character: the EG-5 Jedi Hunter Droid. It’s scarlet red, looks similar to Grievous but with glowing red eyes and only two arms, and wields two sabers. It’s badass. And we can only pray that we see more of it in a very different game than this one.
Nov 24, 2008