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Game Review

No summer blockbuster is complete these days without its video game complement. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is no exception.

The centerpiece scenes of this game closely match the movie: lightsaber duels between those on the light and dark sides of The Force: Anakin and Obi-Wan vs. Count Dooku, Obi-Wan vs. the half-droid/half-alien General Grievous, etc. You end up fighting through 17 levels of enemy combatants on various spaceships and planets, alternately playing both of the film's main characters, Anakin and Obi-Wan. In the most un-closely guarded secret in movie history, the climactic battle pits a fallen Anakin against his mentor on the molten lava rivers of the volcanic planet Mustafar.

A Friend Indeed
Who could ever forget Obi-Wan's description of a Jedi Knight's best friend in the original Star Wars. "Your father’s lightsaber," Ben tells Luke, who ignites its blazing blue blade. "This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age."

In the Revenge of the Sith game, your lightsaber truly is your constant companion. And the game's action is initially very satisfying as you learn the basics of lightsaber combat, honing your skills against a legion of Gen. Grievous' droids bent on impeding your progress. Sith's makers have outdone themselves with regard to the physical realism of these melées—it's particularly gratifying to hurl your saber into a huddle of transistor-driven lackies and watch them fall as scrap metal, then have your blade return to you as a deadly efficient sci-fi boomerang.

Along for the ride are various Force powers that include pushing, pulling and grabbing capabilities. Progression through the levels results in strengthening your Force prowess, as well as unlocking new abilities to unleash on unsuspecting foes.

Droids First, Then Humans
Each lightsaber battle includes new wrinkles to learn on your path to victory—or the dark side. But gameplay soon feels as robotic as the enemies you carve up in the early levels. Once you've nailed Sith's basic attacks, you'll cruise through successive challenges, and any real sense of danger disappears like the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace.

More significant is that droids give way to human combatants—including young Padawan learners (children in their first years of Jedi training) whom Anakin must dispatch in one of his biggest leaps toward the dark side. Attacking other humans—especially the youngest would-be Jedi—is certainly more disconcerting than simply mowing down mindless droning droids. Thankfully, victories over the different Jedi are not as graphic as several scenes in the movie (where various characters lose limbs that they probably would have chosen to keep). But the game's violence is enough to earn its T (for teen) rating.

Mixing Up the Movie and the Game
Watching Revenge of the Sith on the big screen before playing it on my TV at home deflated the game's dramatic tension for me. If you've seen the film, you know where the game is headed. And if you're playing the game first, long and frequent cut scenes from the movie give a lot away. Either way, I thought each storytelling medium actually detracted from the other more than they enhanced the overall Sith experience. Some levels, such as Kenobi's dramatic battle with Gen. Grievous, are a blast (literally) to play through. And some of the advanced Force powers, such as Anakin's ability to wield lightning after he falls to the dark side look amazing onscreen—but to truly enjoy it you'll have to ignore the fact that it is only as a villain that you are able to unleash such potent firepower. (And it almost goes without saying that Lucas' spiritual worldview, inspired by Eastern religions, is Force-fully present in the game as well.)

So unless you're on a lifelong quest to become the master of all things lightsaber, you won't miss much if you decide to take a pass on this disposable marketing ploy by Lucas Arts. As Obi-Wan might have said, "This isn't the game you're looking for."

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Xbox, PlayStation 2, DS, PSP




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Adam R. Holz Steve Reiter

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