Support Andy, click to buy via us...
The popular TV series gets its own DS game that tries hard to recreate the look and feel of the Star Wars universe. Although I can barely stomach the new versions of my beloved childhood franchise I helped my son play through the game as he's such a fan. But not even his love for the animated series could make up for the stupidly difficult boss battles and the irritating combat mechanics of this gamethat made it so unbearable to play.
There's a huge divide in my house between father and son. Predictably, I love the older Star Wars films and a few of the last-gen, grown up games like Knight of the Old Republic RPG or the action-adventure Jedi Knight series. My son, on the hand, adores the more recent films and avidly watches the spinoff TV series - The Clone Wars - on which this game is based. Despite his devotion to the series, even he found this original DS tale a dull and difficult game to play.
I have to admit that my expectations for Jedi Alliance weren't high, but my son was convinced this would be the perfect marriage of an animated series and a videogame. Although I found the introductory cut-scene far too lengthy and camp for my liking, he lapped up the chance to get embroiled in the Clone Wars universe and play as his favourite Jedi.
Not only was I scared of breaking my system by tapping so much, but these enemies were incredibly hard and difficult to beat.
The neat trick to the gameplay was that you always had a Jedi partner, joining in with the combat or helping you out with some of the puzzles. Although it's a single-player game it gave me the feeling of co-op, even if it wasn't really there, which of course led to the feeling that the game would benefit immensely if there was some sort of real co-op between two systems. Nevertheless it felt an authentic touch to be fighting alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi or my son's favourite - the cool Mace Windu - and having that extra presence in the game and throughout the story made it much more bearable.
For the first hour we really enjoyed playing the game together. Although I detested the style of presentation and voice work the Clone Wars operates under, it has a certain distinct style that is at least individual and not some clone of the films (I'm sorry). Exploring these worlds by using the stylus and tapping the screen to fight enemies was a satisfying experience for us both. The puzzles weren't complex to get to point A to B, but there was enough of a challenge to keep my son thinking and not just mindlessly bashing on the DS screen.
Unfortunately, bashing on the DS screen is about the sum of the boss battles in this game. I remember in Jedi Outcast or Knights of the Old Republic that finally fighting against a Sith lord or apprentice was a major event - and the gameplay matched that epic encounter. But here in Jedi Alliance the battles consist of nothing more than tapping the DS screen at such a high rate that I seriously thought it was going to crack the screen. There was a little variation in the combat by learning move combo's and having high, middle or low attacks, but with such a small character on-screen it made exploring the depth of the fighting system near impossible. Not only was I scared of breaking my system by tapping so much, but these enemies were incredibly hard and difficult to beat. My son gave up very quickly and it took me three attempts to beat the very first boss of the game, hardly a fair level to set the difficulty.
My son only lasted an hour and a half before he gave the game back to me and asked if he could just do the exploration parts.
Considering this game is aimed at the younger end of the market I would have thought a little leeway would have been included in the gameplay. But its not just the boss fights that suffer from this. At various points in the level there are quicktime events to perform. These happen within cut-scenes and involved dragging the stylus in a particular direction so that my Jedi could jump, evade or do the cool stuff that Jedi do on the screen. The problem is that these sequences are also too difficult to be enjoyable. The amount of time needed to see the direction you need to drag the stylus and then perform that action is so limited I was constantly having to memorise the patterns and start from a checkpoint several times over.
I'm a fairly good gamer but expecting anyone of the demographic of this game to have the patience to get through these faults is ridiculous. My son only lasted an hour and a half before he gave the game back to me and asked if he could just do the exploration parts. It's a shame as there's a lot of content here that should keep fans of the series entertained for hours - but having such an arbitrary difficulty level, with no means of adjusting it, made it a terrible and pointless experience for both of us.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: