Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – Review
The Star Wars franchise has spawned numerous games over the years and this latest one is a free to play browser MMO targeted at the “tween” market. From veteran MMO publishers Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures is based around the animated offshoot movie of the same name. The game is obviously designed for kids and family fun so I’ll write my review from that perspective.
Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures is basically a wide collection of mini-games tied around an avatar system. You only get two class choices for your character, Human or Twi’lek Jedi and a Clone Trooper, character customization is also as paltry with just 3 pre-set looks for your character. After this you are given a brief cinematic in which members of the Jedi Council teach you the basics of what to do before being let loose into the game. The game world that all player characters inhabits consists entirely of the Jedi Temple and your own private house. Here you can talk to other players and interact with NPCs. But the main purpose of it, is as a graphically fancy way to play the mini games, which serves as the main content.
The mini-games are surprisingly well made; a cut above your average flash game. Each different enough that they didn’t feel like clones of one another. The first one I tried was Lightsaber Duel, as the name suggests your character faces off against another Jedi in a best of three duel. To fight you get given a 4 sequence code of arrow directions and have to enter it before the opposing player or AI does, their progress being shown in a bar below. If you enter your code first your character does a few fancy lightsaber moves and you score a point, first one to 8 points wins that round. It also features two “combo” moves per round, which earn extra points. This is where arrow directions flash up one by one and like a rhythm game, you have to enter it correctly and on time before your opponent does. A flashy looking game with nice fight animations but otherwise a bit too simple, unless against a human player.
Second game I tried was Space Fighter. A mini-game where you control a Jedi star fighter and get to shoot down various droid fighters in big set piece space battles. The mechanics used are the shooter on rails variety reminiscent of the SNES legend Star Fox. You are armed with blasters and torpedoes, which you aim and shoot using the mouse, all the while dodging incoming fire by performing barrel rolls using Z and X keys. I actually really enjoyed this one as not only was it a nice way to pass the time but it reminded me of my childhood memories of playing these type of games on the SNES and Megadrive.
The other mini-games were variations of arcade and flash classics and all played pretty well and provided some mindless fun for a few hours. They all featured global scoreboards and achievements and some had a multi-player aspect where you could compete with other Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures players. One of the rewards of doing well in these mini games is the earning of credits for the use in the in-game store. The store let you buy items for your character such as new outfits, droid pets, improved lightsabers, star fighters and other various items. These are meant as much for showing off to other players out and about in the Jedi temple and furnishing your player housing as they are for using within the mini-games themselves.
Now this leads on to the payment side of the game. While Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures is free to play, a lot of the content is restricted to “Jedi Members”. For $5.99 a month you get Jedi Member status. This gives you access to the officer’s club part of the Jedi Temple as well as lifting the restrictions on the items you can buy in store and allowing you to play all the stages of the mini-games. There is also real money transactions for some special items in the store, which there is quite a few of. I’m not too sure if together they offer value for money. The mini-games are great, but a monthly subscription that high seems a bit much considering an adult could exhaust most of them within a week. But then children can be entertained a lot longer by what could become repetitive for us adults rather quickly and I’ll admit the multi-player side of some of the mini-games would definitely extend their life.
As you will be aware by now this Sci-Fi MMO is mainly aimed at children, so it’s important that the game provides protection from abuse as well give parents control over the child’s game experience. Fortunately SOE understands this and has implemented various protection features. The game has randomly generated Star Wars themed names for characters, with the ability to only use custom names at SOE’s approval. This is tied in with Safe Chat, a system that uses white list filtering of words and phrases for all communication between players in the game. To really gives parents peace of mind there is also an active referee system that monitors all in-game activity.
Parents can control an account in various ways, such as being able to deposit money for in-game purchases in their child’s in-game wallet and ultimately the power to disable the account. SOE also plan to implement game scheduling where the parents can decide when and for how long their child can play Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures. I was glad SOE had given a lot of thought to child protection since although the internet is a wonderful thing it can have hidden dangers for its most vulnerable of users.
All in all not a bad browser based MMO, the cartoon style graphics look nice and the mini-games are genuinely fun. SOE has also tried to make it a safe but fun place for kids and families to interact with others and it has an overall wholesome appeal about it. But I really don’t think it’s all worth spending a lot of money on, especially for the special items in the store since I don’t feel the game world is big enough to warrant their purchase. That said SOE have plans to greatly extend the content and scope of the game and having recently hit 1million registered users it’s certainly proving a popular MMO, which should push further investment. So in closing I would definitely recommend this for children new to online gaming or gaming in general. But also to bored adults who want some simple and quick flash style games to play, but keep the wallet closed.
By Zac Dai