The woefully-titled Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes has clearly been created for young, male fans of the animated series, and not hardcore gamers. Does this mean it can get away with being crap? Of course not. There is no excuse. Developer Krome Studios can offer no justification for the awful graphics, horrible platforming and uninspired level design that Republic Heroes offers.
The game is structured with the shortest of attention spans in mind. Each level is a 10 to 15 minute blast through waves of Droids - the thin-faced Trade Federation robots from Episodes one to three - as either a Jedi or a Clone. As a Jedi (Anakin Skywalker, his grossly annoying sidekick Ahsoka Tano and the dour Obi-Wan Kenobi are playable among others) your main tool of destruction is of course the lightsaber, but a Force Push helps for shoving packs of Droids over platform edges. Despite Jedi being visual shorthand for cool in the minds of geeks across the world, Krome has somehow managed to turn playing one into a repetitive, bland experience punctuated by bouts of frustration and broken platforming.
The platforming really is awful. There's an odd "snap to platform" mechanic that automatically makes your Jedi land where he or she should. This, in theory, sounds perfect for younger gamers, and negates any annoyance the awfully-positioned camera would bring. The only problem is, it simply doesn't work. Well, sometimes it works, but, frustratingly, sometimes it doesn't, and apparently for no reason at all. It's as if a gremlin has holed up inside your console and decided it would be fun to switch the feature off and on again when you least suspect it.
As a result, you end up missing platforms and falling to your death all the bloody time. You wouldn't mind viewing the action (action suggests, you know… action, but there's hardly any) from angles that make gauging jumps difficult if the game always made you land correctly. But because it doesn't, the camera makes platforming an exercise in counting to ten, breathing slowly and trying desperately not to tear your hair out. Sure, there's no real punishment for death - either from a jump that ends up in you plummeting into nothingness or losing all of your health from Droid fire (you simply respawn) - but it starts to get annoying very quickly.
Swinging your lightsaber around, and combat in general, is a clunky, unresponsive affair. The animations are terrible, and your characters, especially Jedi, jerk around on screen as if having fit after fit. The game seems to think that tight collision detection doesn't matter – sometimes you hit Droids with your lightsaber, sometimes you don't. Republic Heroes' hook is that you're able to double jump on any Droid, (again a frustratingly random process as a result of the broken snap-to mechanic), “Jak” them with your lightsaber and ride them about as they blast their comrades to kingdom come. It's a clever idea, but, like most of the game, is poorly implemented. Some Droids, especially those with rapidly-firing blasters, are useful and almost fun to ride. Most, though, are pointless.
The puzzle elements are equally uninspiring. Most involve mashing the Force button until a platform kicks in, or Droid-Jakking a robot that needs to be sent spiralling into a blockade to open the next area. It never gets any more complicated than that, and the puzzles soon feel like a pointless hoop that needs to be jumped through in order to progress. In fact, most of the game feels like that - an excuse to use powers that matter little in the grand scheme of things.