Did you know LucasArts initially offered the video game adaptation of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith to BioWare? They declined, busy at work on Jade Empire, so LucasArts turned to The Collective. The Collective is probably best known for their sleeper hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They’ve also collaborated with LucasArts in the past on both Wrath Unleashed and Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb. Suffice to say, The Collective is no stranger to the third-person action adventure genre, which is exactly the blueprint they chose for Revenge of the Sith. Unfortunately, the Force wasn't with The Collective on this one. Let's take a look at what's cool and not so cool about Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith the video game.
Cool: Revenge of the Sith offers a single-player campaign in which you alternate between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi as you progress through 16 levels inspired by the film. Cutscenes featuring footage from the movie help set up each of the levels and ensuing lightsaber duels.
Not So Cool: The story loses its context mid-campaign. Anakin’s turn to the dark side feels forced. There’s no explanation for his motives. It’s as if someone turned his evil switch on and there was nothing he could do about it. This is obviously due to the absence of key dialogue scenes in the film between Anakin and Chancellor Palpatine, among other missing plot points. The end result is a game that spoils key moments of the movie without much background information.
Cool: The combat system is very intricate, featuring Lightsaber skills, Force powers and combo moves. And with two playable characters, you’ll have the opportunity to experience both sides of the Force.
Not So Cool: The block button is king. Once you learn that almost nothing can hurt you while you’re in a defensive position, you’ll walk around at all times with your finger on the left trigger. It’ll be your saving grace, especially against the game’s tougher foes and boss characters. Let them make the first move and once they’ve left themselves open for that split second, you can unleash the least drawn-out of your combos before returning to your defensive posture. Rinse, repeat and you’ll finish the game in no time (more on that later).
Cool: Upgradeable attacks. At the completion of each level, you’ll be awarded experience points based on how well you used your Lightsaber combos and Force powers. You’ll then get to spend those experience points to unlock new combo moves and increase the strength of your Force powers, a welcome role-playing addition to the game.
Not So Cool: Why do Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker begin the game at the same skill level? Shouldn’t Master Kenobi be a little more advanced than his young Padawan? And even if Obi-Wan and Anakin are equal in skill at this point in the story, why are they essentially rookie Jedi? They start the game with very few skills, making the first Lightsaber duel the toughest, when it should be the other way around (the last duel winds up being the easiest).
Cool: The environments are nicely detailed. You can use Force powers (ie. Force Grasp) to interact with objects in the environment, hurling them at enemies, and your Lightsaber can cause damage to various structures. There's also tons of action occuring in the background of several levels, adding to the immersion of the game.
Not So Cool: The camera is a little too close-in on the action and it’s fixed, causing awkward moments where you’re being attacked by an enemy you can’t see. The AI seems to take breaks during the action. This is very noticeable at the start of the game when Obi-Wan and Anakin fight alongside each other. I don’t know how many times my AI-controlled partner would just stand there and watch me take out the entire droid army. The same can be said for the enemy AI on occasion. Collision detection is another issue. Need a moment to Force heal? Just make sure there’s an object between you and the enemy and you’ll be safe from harm’s way.
Cool: The audio features the Star Wars soundtrack as well as authetic sound effects.
Not So Cool: The voice-overs are terrible, in particular Anakin Skywalker and Mace Windu. And then there’s Obi-Wan and Anakin, constantly trading verbal jabs throughout the game. During combat, Obi-Wan can be heard telling Anakin, “You don’t want to lose another arm, do you?” No wonder Anakin wants to kill Obi-Wan in the end.
Cool: As you battle through the single-player campaign, you’ll unlock Star Wars artwork, multiplayer levels and extra duelists, including the likes of Yoda and General Grievous.
Not So Cool: The single-player campaign can be completed in around 6 hours with little replay incentive other than to find a few hidden secrets. The multiplayer levels support only split-screen and consist of mowing through an endless army of droids or clones.
The box claims Revenge of the Sith is the “ultimate Jedi action experience”. I would have thought that crown belonged to Knights of the Old Republic. I guess the keyword here is “action.” In any case, diehard Star Wars fans are sure to flock to this title just on the name alone. If you're in this group, know this: Revenge of the Sith is a very short game. You're best off making it a weekend rental and saving the rest of your money to go see Episode III in the theatre, if you haven't already.