A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is part of the Star Wars juggernaut, and will likely be craved by any kid who counts him or herself a fan George Lucas' sci-fi universe -- especially those who enjoy the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars television show, upon which the game is based. The violence is similar to what is seen in the show; lots of lightsaber battles between Jedi and robots, monsters, and humanoid evildoers. No blood or guts -- people just crumple, go prone, and disappear when defeated. There are no moral quandaries; the Jedi under the player's control are always on the path of righteousness.
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What's it about?
Based on the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS: JEDI ALLIANCE (not to be confused with the recently released and similarly named Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels for the Wii) sees players taking on the roles of six different Jedi, including fan favorites Anakin Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, and Ahsoka Tano. Two Jedi are selected for each mission, and players switch between them as they battle and work together to solve environmental puzzles.
The narrative concerns a new threat that takes place during the franchise's now well established Clone Wars. The Jedi stumble across a fearful, lightsaber-wielding woman clad in red who has at her disposal a seemingly limitless number of "sisters" whom she regularly sics on the player's characters. Working in bands of two, the Jedi follow her from planet to planet across the galaxy in an effort to discern her intentions and discover the root of her power.
Is it any good?
Jedi Alliance's shtick is to let players control pairs of Jedi, but it doesn't work as well as one might hope. For starters, there is no functionality to support a pair of players working co-operatively. You can only play alone, switching between Jedi as necessary. It's a major oversight, given the game's theme. What's more, Jedi Assists -- special attacks that happen when the player targets a foe that a computer controlled Jedi is currently fighting -- are so unspectacular as to be unnoticeable. It feels more like your ally just stands around and watches while you do all the work.
That said, if you view Jedi Alliance as being a single character action/adventure game (which is what it feels like in the end), it can be a lot of fun. Intuitive touch screen controls make navigation and fighting a snap. And the game's many puzzles -- which involve hacking terminals by selecting falling shapes that match security symbols, using the stylus to draw a shape shown on the upper screen to cut holes through doors with your lightsaber, and swiping the stylus in specific patterns to help Jedi pull off amazing, Force-assisted acrobatics -- are compelling distractions. It's no game of the year, but it's certainly passable entertainment for young Star Wars aficionados.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ongoing Star Wars phenomenon. Why are kids just as enthralled by this franchise as their parents once were (or perhaps still are)? How well do you think this particular game fits within the series' universe? Do personalities like Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi stay true to their established characters? The game is targeted at kids, but it features plenty of lightsaber battles that result in slain enemies. Do lightsaber duels somehow seem less violent than other forms of fighting?
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