lauantai 23. huhtikuuta 2011

REVIEW - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

GENRE(S): Action / Fighting
RELEASED: May 2005
DEVELOPER(S): Ubisoft (DS, GBA), The Collective, Double Helix Games (PS2, PSP, Xbox)
PUBLISHER(S): Ubisoft (DS, GBA), LucasArts (PS2, PSP, Xbox)

Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II - The Arcade Game was one of my favourite video games as a child, and it remained one of the truly finest games ever released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. A side-scrolling beat 'em up with familiar characters, colourful and detailed graphics, some of the coolest cutscenes of the time, and simple, addictive arcade-style gameplay; the game was a winner. 16 years after the game's release, Ubisoft stepped forward with a Game Boy Advance game that just might've been conceived with an arcade TMNT of the new generation in mind. This game was based on the final chapter of the Star Wars saga, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which I easily consider the best movie of the prequel trilogy. With the horror of the previous Game Boy Advance game, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones still plaguing my mind, I carefully tread into Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, to find a visually unsatisfying, but physically decent beat 'em up.

Do what must be done. Do not hesitate. Show no mercy.

When Padme's pregnancy becomes known to Anakin, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine - a.k.a. Darth Sidious - seizes the opportunity to finally manipulate the young Skywalker into turning to the Dark Side of the Force, making him believe it is the only way he could protect his family from harm. He uses his new apprentice Darth Vader to execute his orderly plan to completely wipe out his fellow Jedi. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles for survival and prepares to face his former apprentice in a battle to the death.

Since my opinion on the final Star Wars movie is already out and there's really nothing to add, let's get into the graphics without further due, I think we're in for a fairly lengthy review here as it is. The visual design of the game sucks, there's no way around it. The graphics are not bad from a technical standpoint, but I really don't understand the very concept behind pseudo-anime characters in a Star Wars game. It isn't even a Japanese game. As a matter of fact, it's French... which always explains a lot, and not in the most flattering fashion. Especially the portraits look horrible, and there are some errors in details which really bother me, for example Obi-Wan and Anakin's battle stances. I've rarely seen a Jedi swing his lightsaber with one hand. The sound bank's comprised of extremely familiar, but still good music, grunts stolen from some random beat 'em up, and quite sufficient sound effects.

How could I not doubt it?
My initial impression of the game was not very flattering. The graphics made me gulp in horror. The dialogue is somewhat similar to that of the movie, I just don't remember Obi-Wan and Anakin making those faces straight out of any anime flick to express their emotions. Anakin says "This is where the fun begins", I doubted it so much that I had to take that one screenshot over there. All of the missions have taglines which are memorable quotes from all the Star Wars movies, and the line to accompany the first mission is "I have a bad feeling about this"; it really reflected on my emotions at the moment. But, I was in for a surprise - the strength of the gameplay managed to put a smile on my face.

The first game to come to mind was indeed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, and it took a couple of minutes for me to realize that hey, it's probably no coincidence, as Ubisoft was responsible for each TMNT game of the 21st century, including the remake of TMNT IV, a game which I've not yet had a chance to experience properly, while TMNT II was one of my Top 5 played games as a kid. There is far more to Revenge of the Sith than just moving forward and kicking ass, though. The combat is far more tactical, and the more sufficient style you have, the more you can assign skill points after each mission, to improve your attributes and Force spells as you wish. It's pretty cool. I dig this game to some extent already.

You can choose to play as either Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker. In other words, you can do this the good or evil way. At first, it seems like both characters are exactly the same, but it's actually surprisingly far from the truth. Obi-Wan is faster than Anakin, but his speed makes him somewhat more vulnerable to ranged attacks and it's harder to deflect blaster shots with the lightsaber. Both characters have a set of special moves dependent of a meter, which are executable once they destroy or kill enough enemies. Obi-Wan's special moves are collectively known as Focus, while Anakin's are known as Fury. As long as both characters are assigned to the same missions, they have similar but notably different monologues which mirror each other. For example, Obi-Wan says something like "This is why I hate droids, they never know when to quit", while Anakin claims to love them for the same reason - he just loves to pick a fight. Even if the presentation's far out most of the time, I think it's cool how Ubisoft made the characters such mirror images of each other in every way they could.

Tell me, droid, what makes you tick?
It's a bit disappointing that the first scenario in the game, which spans about three different levels, is pretty much the climax of the game when it comes to gameplay, since it features both characters on active duty. Regardless of who you choose, your mission is the same and your agenda is to free Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of Count Dooku. Yeah, we all know that Palpatine's his boss and this is all a scam, but so what? We get to kill at least one bastard. Mostly, you just walk forward and tear everything that moves into shit. Occasionally, you can also make your way to some background props and destroy them to gain some power-ups. There's are several tutorials in the beginning of the game that show you how to use advanced combat techniques, such as Force Push / Pull and the age-old lightsaber trick. It works a bit differently this time around, though. Just standing there and shielding yourself with the lightsaber doesn't really work as an offensive method - the saber just vaporizes the shots - but if you shield yourself at the exact right time, you can deflect them back at enemies as per usual. You can also use the Force to pick up parts of fallen droids and hurl them at enemies to deal some surprisingly devastating damage. One early boss fight is even wholly based on this ability. Lastly, using the D-Pad while attacking results in different lightsaber attacks. For example, pushing down and attacking while standing near a grounded enemy allows you to stab 'em while they're on the ground. This is quite a physically advanced game, a huge overhaul from the last Star Wars game that came out on the Advance... hell, any other Star Wars game on the Advance. It has some notable quirks, though, and I'll get to them very soon.

The boss fight against Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus looks stupid, but it's quite unique. He has a certain attack pattern he changes to another one once his health hits a certain low. The key to winning this fight is to figure out the pattern and follow up with a suitable counterattack each time he fails to deliver. Each time he manages to hit your character, you change to either Obi-Wan or Anakin. It's a constantly changing tag team duel with great tempo, I really enjoyed it although all that counterattack business can really mutilate one's hands. It ends dreadfully, though. Instead of decapitating Dooku like he did in the movie, Anakin just quickly swings at him with the lightsaber and he drops dead. Just about the lamest fatality I've seen in a while. It's also funny that I won the fight using Obi-Wan, suddenly he's inexplicably passed out in the background while Anakin takes the credit.

Whoa, dude. You've gotta show me some
Many quirks can be picked up throughout the game; some recurring ones, some which jump in your face one time only. Obstacles you need to jump over have the tendency of sticking to the edge of the screen, in other words you don't know where you'll land, and secondly, you can't be certain you'll make the jump because of the slow transition into the next screen; your jump might be cut off with no reasonable explanation. They might've went for some really advanced controls, but collision detection - that's another thing; it's incredibly hard to hit large enemies because it's never too obvious what their weak points are. Getting caught in a crossfire or just failing to counter to the sights of one droid enemy that has the privilege of rapid fire, spells certain death, or at least damage heavy enough to potentially fuck up your whole trip. An essential pain in the ass when playing as Obi-Wan. Lastly, both characters are slower in every way than any enemy's A.I. is to react. You can't break your own combo, so you need to watch your surroundings at all times if you're going for one, or an advanced technique. There just might be someone right behind you aiming to put a few bullet holes in your back, you just can't see 'em on the screen yet.

Let's recap: the presentation is downright awful, the plot is very faithful to the movie but having two playable characters around alone makes it very inconsistent. It feels like we're speeding through the storyline, missing some important plot points like all the stuff that makes Anakin one angry camper. He just turns by himself. At least the game doesn't feel as forced like its kind usually do, the movie was so packed to the brim with action that the atmosphere of the missions is authentic most of the time, even if the presentation isn't. The controls are pretty good, but most of the other elements of gameplay tend to piss on your shoes from time to time. All in all, what we have here is a game that cannot stand up to the ones that paved the way for it - but, also one of the better movie licenses of the decade, an entertaining beat 'em up game, and first and foremost, arguably the best game to be released in promotion of the whole Star Wars prequel trilogy.

SOUND : 8.7


GameRankings: 71.85% (DS), 73.38% (GBA), 64.63% (PS2), 80.00% (PSP), 65.97% (Xbox)

Most of the events that don't take place in the movie, but are depicted in the PS2 and Xbox versions of the game, are actually taken from the original draft for the movie.

2 kommenttia:

  1. Visually this game looks so ... Japanese. In fact it reminds me of Sword of Mana (which is currently in my GBA). I'm not quite sure how I feel about that lol.

  2. Yeah, I know. It was a shock. *ggh*