Platforms: PS2 & Xbox - PS2 Version Reviewed.
It’s not surprising that a Star Wars movie can sell out regardless of the quality of the film: most of us knew that The Phantom Menace wasn’t much cop from the first time we saw it, but it never stopped us going back to check. By the time you read this, we’ll all know whether Revenge of the Sith is the prequel we’ve all been waiting for, but whether it is or it isn’t, it’s a guaranteed hit. We all love the original trilogy so much, that George Lucas could release another six sequels of Phantom Menace quality and we’d still all be queuing up for tickets.
What’s more surprising is that games based on the prequel movies can still top the charts. Surely nobody could have played such mediocre or patchy efforts as Jedi Power Battles, Demolition, Obi-Wan, or Super Bombad Racing and think that a new game based on Revenge of the Sith would be a classic. However, judging by its chart position over the last three weeks, that’s exactly what seems to have happened.
Now some of you may sensibly have waited to buy Revenge of the Sith, perhaps because you don’t want the third film spoilt beforehand by a game that closely follows the plot and includes clips from the movie as cut-scenes. Good, there’s still hope for you yet, because while Revenge of the Sith isn’t the worst Star Wars game by any means, it simply doesn’t deserve any more success.
In the interest of balance and fairness I ought to report what’s good about the game. Well, graphically it’s pretty good for a PS2 game – Xbox owners might be slightly disappointed, but Anakin and Obi-Wan are recognisable from their movie counterparts, the animation is mostly excellent, and the levels have the Star Wars look and feel down pat. In fact, if you’re just watching someone else play Revenge of the Sith, it might look like a really exciting game. It is old-school, being more or less a 3D variant on the old Double Dragon brawler with added Jedi-skills and more spectacular light sabre moves, but the combat looks great – no question.
The audio is also quite respectable. Of course, the John Williams score adds more than its share of atmosphere, and the clash of light sabres and the sound of blaster fire can’t fail to bring back all the right feelings. With the volume turned up, it all sounds just as exciting as it looks.
The problem is the one thing that isn’t so exciting: the gameplay. As already mentioned, Revenge of the Sith is primarily combat driven, each level being essentially a rush from point to point while fighting droids, Jedi, clone-troopers or whatever enemy happens to be the special of the day. There is a certain level of sophistication to the action, with skills and Jedi powers that can be enhanced through points earned at the end of each level, and a vast array of combos that can be learnt and deployed, but you can get by pretty well using the old button-mashing approach. Revenge of the Sith mixes things up occasionally with switches to be switched and wires to be cut – often with the aid of force powers – but this is dumb gameplay for the most part. What’s worse, it’s not actually all that challenging. I’m no fighting game genius, but I hardly ever felt threatened during the standard battling portions of the game, and that lack of challenge is a problem. With no real options to explore or experiment, it’s the sort of game where it never gives you much real satisfaction.