Ever since Nintendo debuted the Wii and its motion-sensing controller, a certain segment of the gaming population has been waiting with one simple question: “When will I get to use it like a lightsaber?” That day has finally arrived with LucasArts “Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels.” It’s the closest a videogame has come to giving players mastery of the ultimate sci-fi weapon, though the controls are so simple, and the story and multiplayer options so lacking, that it will likely appeal only to the same young boys as the film, which hits homevideo this week.
The greatest, and only, achievement of “Lightsaber Duels” is nailing the visceral feeling of taking on an enemy with energy sword in hand. Though the Wii isn’t powerful enough to track precise movement — at least until the MotionPlus attachment comes out next year — it can pick up one of four positions in which players move the lightsaber. Players can also use buttons to parry attacks or tap into the Force to shoot bolts of lightning or fling enemies across the screen. Combined with decent visual quality for a Wii title, it’s enough to let kids at least feel like they’re fighting as a Jedi. Anyone over the age of 12, however, will find the game too simple, especially compared with September’s “The Force Unleashed.”
The game attempts to take players through the story by inserting snippets from the movie and Cartoon Network series, but these brief cutscenes are so irrelevant to the fights they’re wrapped around that most players won’t bother paying attention. The campaign mode is basically just a useful introduction to the fighting mechanics and the 11 characters players can control, including Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Count Dooku.
The biggest potential for “Lightsaber Duels” lies in multiplayer — which is also were the game is at it’s worst. Fighting a friend in the same room is fun enough, but there are no options besides one-on-one combat until one person gets knocked down for the count. The lack of different competitive modes, as well as any options for online play, keeps “Lightsaber Duels” from becoming the awesome sci-fi fighting game it has the potential to be.
There’s also a tie-in DS game titled “Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance,” though it’s a straight-up action title that bears little resemblance to the Wii game.
In “Jedi Alliance,” players control different pairs of Jedi. The duos, who change on different levels, affect what abilities gamers can access. Unfortunately, the game suffers from stuttering graphics and poorly implemented gameplay that leave it as little more than another bland tap-and-drag DS action game.