Still Got The Midi-chlorians
TT Games has the formula for LEGO-themed adventure games pretty well down pat by now – and if you've been following this series for any length of time, you probably know what to expect, too. The good news is that, despite being based on more modern and tepid Clone Wars material, LEGO Star Wars III is pretty good. There's plenty of solid platforming and lightsaber-waving to last you through to the end of the story, and all kinds of unlockable doodads are around, should you want more after that. A slack, loose sort of feel to the gameplay persists after all sorts of iterations, and a general lack of imagination and refinement may disappoint some. Ultimately though, this is meant to be a light, silly adventure, and on this point it performs admirably.
This is especially true with your system's 3D effect switched on. With the game's fixed, raised camera angles, the diorama effect so often mentioned in 3DS coverage looks great here. Laser fire and explosions pop pleasantly off the screen, and the occasional dog-fighting mission in particular pronounce the capabilities of the handheld. I ran into a few framerate issues when running through really effect-heavy areas in 3D (fire, in particular, seemed to slow things down), it was still my first choice for how to play the game.
For those unfamiliar with the series up until now, you'll mostly be running around as some of your favourite Star Wars characters, hacking up or perforating the many enemies who get in your way, and occasionally stacking some disparate LEGO bricks into switches or explosives that need to be used to move forward. There's not a whole lot of exciting, breakthrough game design here, and most the action revolves around some very simple jump-attack-avoid strategies. The heaviest lifting you'll need to handle is the need to swap between different characters to bypass a few blockades; only small characters like Yoda, for example, can fit through small, vent-shaped crevices. And for a beginner level, family-friendly game, this simplicity makes perfect sense.
The problems lie in the feel of these basic mechanics. Since the very first LEGO series game, the movement and physics of the world have felt loose and sluggish, and there hasn't been much improvement since then. The game typically isn't all that demanding, but a fair share of my deaths during the game could have been prevented with a little retooling of the controls. As it is, it's a little difficult to feel like you're in complete control of your character.
Otherwise, though, it's tough to have many serious complaints with LEGO Star Wars III. After so many variations on this theme, there's little (if anything) that will truly jump out and impress you in this one. There are, however, tons of solid moments of conventional action to go around, loads of characters to unlock and mess around with, and all kinds of collectable minutia to go back for. So long as you're okay with more like before, this is a good choice.