Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge Of The Sith

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge Of The Sith

What's the secret to being a Jedi Master? Skill with a lightsaber is a prerequisite, of course, as is the ability to harness the ethereal powers of the Force. But the story mode of the new Revenge Of The Sith video game suggests a far simpler path to Jedi enlightenment: block. For roughly two-thirds of the game's 16 missions, holding down the block button while hacking through waves of hapless droids should be enough to get you through each level. Things get a little trickier during face-offs with big bosses like Count Dooku, General Grievous, and Mace Windu, who are all uncowed by the button-mashing wizardry of the block-and-slash, but otherwise, Sith suggests the possibility of a one-word walkthrough.

With its combination of saber moves and Force powers, Sith should offer a sophisticated fighting system, but as with a lot of licensed movie adaptations, you aren't playing the game so much as it's playing you. Long cut-scenes and clips from the movie are inserted into the action so frequently that it's hard to know how much control you have over your own destiny. There might as well be buttons for the inane dialogue between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala (X: "You're so beautiful." Y: "It's only because I'm so in love." X: "No. It's because I'm in love with you.") Switching off between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi, players follow the movie's basic storyline, simulating its action scene-for-scene through most of the missions. The rest of the time, your Jedi warriors are trapped within ray shields, doomed to battle droids until they find an electrical grid or the shields are arbitrarily dropped.

Beyond the game: Though the game's designers miss the opportunity to expand the Star Wars franchise into new graphic realms, the cut-scenes recreate George Lucas' obsessively detailed universe with scrupulous care. Then again, the existence of "unlockable concept art" for the game hints that perhaps they're a bit too proud of themselves.

Worth playing for: The bonus missions, when you finally get to fight as Yoda and Darth Vader, are a nice break from formula, but only the two-player duels offer real freedom from the game's sinister machinations. With tighter controls and more varied combinations, Star Wars could develop into the next Tekken, but for now, it's just cool to hurl lightsabers at people.

Frustration sets in when: The use of offscreen space is generally effective in the movies, but Sith's lack of camera controls often makes it impossible to assess a situation. You simply have to run toward the laser beams whizzing by and hope for the best.

Final judgment: Buy a few action figures instead. They're just as inert, but far less expensive.

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