Star Wars: Episode III Xbox Review

Out of all the platformers and space shooters over the years with the Star Wars license, there has only been one beat-em-up. It's a shame too, considering that Jedi Power Battles was abysmal, and the film series lends itself to the genre so well. Enter Episode III, a solid, repetitive, old-style movie licensed title with enough basic combat to carry it through about six hours of game time. A little variety would have helped make it an easier ride, but this is an enjoyable way to play through the film.

Players control either Obi-Wan or a slowly sliding downward Anakin Skywalker through 16 levels of lightsaber combat. At times, they will fight together, the opposite Jedi being controlled by weak AI. As they split and take their own paths, you'll be alone.

Experience is earned by slicing through countless droids. The faster you pick them off without being hit, the more experience you earn. It's a slightly flawed system for a few reasons. Laser blasts can come from anywhere, and there's little chance at moving around shots from off screen. There are times when you'll take down countless enemies, and seemingly gain nothing. It seems random.

You can upgrade force powers or skills in an attempt to weaken the obvious repetitiveness. Even with all the force aspects available, it's still perfectly fine to wail away on a single button to achieve results. With the exception of the overly long boss fights, you'll beat each stage in no time by working over the X button.

The game guides the player every step of the way. When you need to draw on the force, it tells you where you need to be. There's little difference between Obi-Wan and Skywalker, aside from some of their force powers. You have no advantage with either of them, and there's nothing in their respective stages to make use of their minor specifics.

One thing breaks up the ever-growing monotony of slashing away, and these few brief turret segments are hardly enjoyable. The first one presented to the player merely requires you to aim and then hold down the fire button. There's nothing to dodge, and it takes an exceedingly long time to bring the opposing ship down. Other sequences like this do offer a little more action, just not enough to make it seem like an entirely different game or distract you from the fight.

Once the story is completed, there's some decent replay value available. Extra missions with other Jedi (like Yoda) become playable, and there are few that allow for co-operative gameplay (that would have helped the main game tremendously). There's an arena mode for one-on-one brawling. Sketches show off sequences cut from the film, but realized here to extend this games length.

While it seems to be copying EA's Lord of the Rings series, the budget was obviously not as high. The cinemas blend from actual film footage to in game graphics, which hardly using the hardware. Facial textures are flat and blurry, as are the rest of the character models. It looks like a first generation title, not one coming out near the launch of a new console.

Film clips use the audio from the films and once into the game, the jarring switch to the Clone Wars actors from the Cartoon Network. The acting is fine (except for the repetitive voice samples); the voice change is not. The rest of the audio is the usual spectacular Star Wars package, complete with John Williams's always unforgettable soundtrack and Lucasfilm sound effects. Those with decent sound equipment will benefit the most with excellent use of the 5.1 audio the console is capable of producing.

Whether or not you want to believe it, the Nintendo DS provides the best Star Wars game from this film. It's the same game, shrunk down with an excellent 2-D presentation and flight levels that do a fine job of linking those stages together. That's what would have helped this Xbox version of the story, though it's still enjoyable if you're familiar with this style of gameplay. Whether or not you can go through six hours of it depends on how much variety you require.

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