Is it fair to say I’m a sucker for just about any game with a Star Wars label slapped on it? Yeah, I’d say so! So when I wrote about the upcoming Clone Wars Adventures ‘freemium’ game, I signed up for info and joined as soon as it launched! Now I’ve had a week to tinker around with the service – how does it play? Read on and find out!
* Extend the Fantasy: Kids no longer have to wait until the next exciting episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV series to continue exploring and enjoying the Star Wars universe. With Clone Wars Adventures, kids can go online to experience exciting thrills as you duel iconic adversaries with your own custom lightsaber, speed through the galaxy in your starfighter, defeat enemies and take down starships. Adventure online to discover your destiny!
* Play Free or Upgrade: Clone Wars Adventures is a free-to-play game, but players who want to take the galactic action to the next level can purchase a monthly membership. Players can also buy cool Star Wars universe items from within the game through micro-transactions using Station Cash.
* Minigames & More: From Droid Programming to Speeder Bike Racing, Clone Wars Adventures puts you in the driver seat to experience epic action in immersive minigames that take you to your favorite locations in the galaxy. Become the proud owner of a tricked out Droid pet or throw a party in your player house – the fun is endless!
* Fun With Friends: Whether you are on adventures with old friends or competing for leaderboard status with new ones, Clone Wars Adventures is a lively virtual world that connects players in fun and safe ways. Show off your achievements in your Trophy Room, use safe chat and emoticons to express yourself and celebrate in-world events with the entire galaxy!
* Embedded Card Game: Clone Wars Adventures card battles lets players pit a variety of fun characters, creatures and vehicles from The Clone Wars television show against one another in a unique, fast-paced combat similar to the gameplay styles of traditional games such as War and Concentration.
* Kid-Friendly: Parental controls
allow for the customization of safety options, including pre-canned chat and playtime settings for younger players.
Let me be clear: Clone Wars Adventures is a game targeted at kids. There are fun things to do throughout, but there is little depth to the story or the activities. If you and your kids have experienced Disney’s ToonTown, you get the basic idea.
In terms of presentation style, you will feel right at home if you have seen any of the Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network (and if you haven’t … why are you here?). The visuals are detailed 3D colorful graphics typical of the CGI series, with the same characters having the same basic voices and appearances.
There is lots done here to make you feel comfortable – from the theme music to immediately meeting Mace Windu and interacting with Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka. A lot of care has gone in to delivering an experience that makes the player feel like they have dropped into the Clone Wars series – and I would say they were entirely successful!
When you start the game you get a briefing from Mace Windu – and you also get a lightsaber, because apparently they are just handing the things out! I had honestly hoped that there would be some form of ‘Padawan training’ required to get the saber, but no big deal. From there you learn that you have a personal room and are free to explore the Jedi Temple and to help out wherever you can.
There are two main activities in Clone Wars Adventures: exploration and mini-games.
Exploration has a couple of facets: one part wandering around interacting with famous Jedi and throwing out canned ‘quick chats’ to other players. The Jedi around the temple can give you missions in the form of mini-games, such as Anakin Skywalker assigning you a flight mission and Obi-Wan handing you a lightsaber mini-game, and so on. There is plenty of space and a variety of rooms at the Jedi Temple, so you will not feel so cramped as you wander around picking up missions.
You also get a ‘house’ for you at the temple. You use this as a home base to store things you buy in the store using credits you earn playing mini-games. You can use these items to decorate your room and move things around to get just the look you want. You can also get a ‘pet’ in the form of a droid, and you can customize the droid with different attachments. Finally you can buy and earn different outfits throughout the game, store them in your house and change whenever your head there.
But the ‘meat’ of the game is the mini-games. In fact, it is so central to the experience that you never even need to walk up to a Jedi to gain a mission! You can simply log in to the game, and a screen comes up with new and popular missions featured and a big array of available mini-games to play.
The games themselves are a wide array of basic mini-games with a Star Wars theme. For example, you have one where you have a minimum number of droids to eliminate using a lightsaber throw. Using the little know ‘wall bounce’ you can make your saber ricochet around like a ball bouncing off walls! Sure it is silly but it is loads of fun and you have some droid chatter such as ‘that was close’ and things like that!
Other games include a tower defense mini-game, speeder bike races, light saber duels, and flying a star fighter through a space battle. There is also a typing game where you need to type the appropriate letter to destroy incoming ships – and bosses require a series of words typed correctly! For someone with as poor typing skills as me it was pretty challenging!
There are a load of mini-games, with more each time I log in, and probably even more by the time you read this! That is a great thing, as it shows constant investment and effort on improving the game. I also think that the way they divide what is free versus what requires membership is fair, and how they show how much of a game is locked off or members only. It is a good way to incentivize membership based on actual gameplay enjoyment.
What I don’t like so much is shown in this screen:
Wait – they put the ‘upgrade to the paid version’ option where they normally have the OK button? Exactly! I understand that a ‘freemium’ service can only survive if people are buying the stuff that costs actual money. But compared to ANY other free-to-play game I have tried – and there are quite a few – NONE has been so constantly and blatantly in-my-face about trying to get money out of me. I have found myself on the ‘Upgrade Membership’ screen more times than I care to tell because I click in the OK button spot before it has fully loaded and it ended up being a ‘become a Jedi’ button.
Aside from the ‘hand in my wallet’ feeling I have had a wonderful experience with Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures. There is a wide array of stuff to do, and a tremendous variety of game types available. And if you don’t want to play mini-games, just hang around and dress up your house and droids.
The overall experience feels perfectly suited to the target tween age group, yet there is stuff for younger and older kids (and even ‘adult kids’ like me) to find interesting and challenging. This is clear fan service, yet it goes beyond that and delivers an overall fun online gaming experience.
Oh – one thing: if you want to play, plan on using a Windows PC, as the game components come in a Windows executable! There is no indication if a Mac or Linux solution is coming.
Review: Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures
Where to Buy: Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures
What I Like: Graphics style matches cartoon well; tons of content; great variety; loads of voice acting from the cartoons; great performance on any system
What Needs Improvement: Way too much emphasis on getting you to pay to upgrade; despite being a ‘browser game’ it runs on Windows only.
Source: Personal account