Saturday, July 15, 2017

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes - 2/10 hours

Two hours in and I've not quite got an emotional handle on this game. It's clearly for kids - even leaving aside its colorful presentation and light-hearted script, its mechanics make it a game for people who don't understand video games. At times it's a platformer and your jumps will be "sticky," allowing you to make a hair-raising series of jumps while basically on autopilot. Other times it will be a shooter and the aim assist will be both dramatic and obvious. And all throughout, there is no penalty for death. If you die, you pop up at the nearest checkpoint as if nothing had happened. No limited number of lives, no resetting of the challenges, and not even a loss of score.

But the strange thing is that, despite being a kids' game, it's a not very well put together kids' game. Most of the features that make it easy for little ones to stumble their way through also have some loopholes that don't add challenge so much as they make things randomly frustrating for no reason. You can override the stickiness of the platforms by jumping in the wrong direction or double-jumping when a single jump is needed, which is fine except when the camera angle makes it hard to judge direction and distance. And the shooter controls are some kind of perverse twin-stick nonsense that barely works when it's not auto-aiming.

So, on the one hand, Republic Heroes is not a particularly interesting or challenging game for an adult, and on the other hand, it's also not very good as a mindless brawler. You might think, then, that it's nothing but a chore to play . . . and yet . . .

It's all right. I'm making forward progress. Even when the controls screw me over, it's not that big a deal because there's a checkpoint every minute or so. All told, it's just a meaningless grind where I press buttons to make lights respond. And I'm okay with that.

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