Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Review
So? Is the game worth it? I could answer that question right now, but then there'd be no reason for you to read the rest of the review. Patience is a virtue, young Padawan.
The good news regarding Revenge of the Sith is that there are actual clips from the film in the game, many of which set up each level. The game does pretty much follow the action flow of the film, from the opening on General Grievous' ship to Obi-Wan's pursuit of Grievous to Anakin's transition and betrayal of the Jedi Order on Coruscant to the final sequences on the volcanic planet of Mustafar.
It's all action, though. There's no love story here. The relationship between Palpatine and Anakin is merely touched on. And, in an unexplainable change of events, Anakin takes the place of Palpatine when battling Mace Windu. There are also sequences added to the game that have understood connections to the film but were never seen, in order to lengthen the game. In one such sequence, Anakin is seen rampaging the Jedi Temple, rather than just leaving it to your imagination, like the film largely does.
The Collective, the game's development team, seems to use previous hack-and-slash games from Stormfront Studios—such as The Two Towers and Demon Stone-- as major influences. As you control either Anakin or Obi-Wan, you'll notice a meter that tends to grow as you log successive kills without taking damage yourself. As the meter fills, your character gains more experience per kill. When totally full, you'll get maximum experience. This experience is used in-between levels to learn (or improve) Force Powers or new moves for each character. (Hint: Max out Force Heal as quickly as possible. Trust me.)
While the idea is very good, since at least The Two Towers was remarkably good to begin with, the execution falls a little short. There's a lot of tedium involved in playing Revenge of the Sith. Wave upon wave of droids or clones will attack you, many of which will use the same predictable patterns. Sure, there's an occasional boss fight (which ramps up the difficulty significantly, but only temporarily in most cases) or a shooting sequence (these are just filler and aren't very much fun at all)... but a good 90% of this game is mindless hack-and-slash action, which even bored me after a couple of hours... and considering my affinity towards these kinds of games, that's a definite negative.
The saber duel-based boss battles against the likes of Count Dooku, Mace Windu, General Grievous, and others are probably the highlight of the game. Simple hack-and-slash or button-mashing tactics will get you killed in a hurry, so building up your Force Powers (such as Force Push) and learning to mix saber strikes and Force Power usage is key to succeeding in these sequences. There does seem to be a little too much blocking and parrying by the bosses, but this forces players to change their strategy and mix up their tactics. It's also worth noting that there's a decent Duel mode here that allows two players to stage their own lightsaber battle, and it's good for a diversion from the standard saber-hacking fare.
There's not a lot of motivation to play through the game a second time, either. Yes, there are secrets hidden in most levels, and finding them all is required to open up the game's juiciest unlockables; however some of the secrets are borderline ridiculous to find. In fact, a few of the secrets actually require you stand in the right spot for a few seconds without moving in order for it to appear. The unlockables are largely forgettable, too. The concept art isn't bad, but the "challenge stages" that allow you to play as other characters feel rushed and don't have their own rewards for finishing them. I mean, yeah, it's cool to kick butt as Yoda, but you feel more empty than fulfilled when the stage is over.
Usually LucasArts does a respectable job when it comes to voice work in their games, but the abominations in Revenge of the Sith are inexcusable. As if it isn't bad enough to hear actual movie dialogue during the film sequences degrade to character wannabes once you get into playing the game... the voice clips are so repetitive that you'll want to take a lightsaber to your own head. The humor is forced in some exchanges between Obi-Wan and Anakin, and the jokes get old faster than Greedo got fried by Han Solo's blaster in A New Hope. At least we can fall back on John Williams' familiar musical score in the game, and if you've seen the movie, you'll notice the same thing with the game's score—a lot of throwback to earlier movies in the series. The sound effects are solid, too, easily recognizable by any Star Wars fan.
The good news is that the visuals are pretty impressive. Each world depicted in the game feels like it was lifted directly from the film, despite a few licenses being taken now and again. Some of the character designs are sweet, including a clone assassin which I personally would have loved to have seen Obi-Wan have to battle in the film. Each character animates pretty smoothly, and lightsaber battles look particularly stunning. You might notice a spot or two of slowdown on occasion, but it really doesn't hurt the game, which generally runs at a consistent 30 frames per second. The FMV quality is a little grainy, but that's more of a nitpick than anything else.
Unless you're a completist who simply has to own everything Star Wars, I cannot recommend Revenge of the Sith for a full purchase. The game can be completed in about 4 -5 hours, and replaying it really has little value. On the other hand, on a rainy weekend or during some down time, Revenge of the Sith might make for a great rental. There's certainly a lot of action, and the lightsaber duels can be rather exciting—especially the final Anakin/Obi-Wan fight. In truth, the game is just like the movie. It's got blockbuster action, but after it's over, you talk about it briefly and then go on with your life. If you're looking to make a Star Wars game purchase, you'd fare better with Star Wars Battlefront or maybe even LEGO Star Wars, which was more fun and had more to offer than this game did.
Now, return this game to Gamefly, I must.
5/26/2005 Peter J. Skerritt, Jr.