By John Gaudiosi
Generations of children have grown up playing with the Danish LEGO toy bricks. Over the past decade, while those original toys still flourish, kids and kids-at-heart have transitioned to LEGO videogames from developer Traveller’s Tales (TT Games) and the LEGO Company. Just as the LEGO Star Wars toys  remain bestsellers over a decade after they were introduced, the LEGO Star Wars video games established developer TT Games as a force to be reckoned with and opened up the floodgates for other licensed games like LEGO Batman , LEGO Indiana Jones , and LEGO Harry Potter  . Now, the developer behind all of these blockbuster hits has returned with LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars, featuring a brand-new game engine that brings the latest technology to PC gamers.
“The technology team at Traveller's Tales has been hard at work to implement brilliant new lighting and shading systems for LEGO Star Wars III ,” says Jonathan Smith, head of production at TT Games. “You'll notice the impact from the very first moment you see the game in action. Everything looks much more detailed and realistic than it ever has before. We produce our games on a wide variety of different platforms in order to reach the widest possible audience, and we love working on the PC. High-end PC gamers will love the new graphics, which bring this universe to life in a way you've never seen before.”
Visual Bells and Lightsabers
Smith says that in addition to the new game engine, which offers nice effects like reflections off those shiny floors and Darth Vader’s helmet, the Star Wars team has been able to build upon all the great elements of previous titles. The visual bells and whistles that will be enjoyed by PC gamers only add to the game’s primary goal. Smith says the focus remains accessible, fun gameplay featuring cool characters with amazing abilities. LEGO Star Wars III adds a host of new features to take the overall experience to a completely new level.
The new game engine has opened up the scale of the gameplay to include massive ground-battles where players will command battalions of clone troopers against the relentless Droid Army, while building bases, deploying vehicles and calling in reinforcements to defeat opponents. In addition, new technology has enabled the developer to offer multitasking through sceneswap: Taking a page right out of the Star Wars films, the game now allows players to manage multiple teams in separate locations by pressing a button to wipe to another locale.
“LEGO Star Wars III has amazing Jedi with cool Force powers, our signature ‘drop-in/drop-out’ two-player co-op action, and a terrific variety of gameplay environments -- that much you'd expect from us,” says Smith. “But there's so much here that people won't expect too. We have truly awesome battles, enabling you to build up massive forces in a completely new way. The ability to fly spacecraft, land them, jump out and fight on the ground. And incredible bosses from the TV series like Gor.”
New Animation for Good Guys and Bad
TT Games has implemented new character animation to give the LEGO heroes and villains more freedom in battle and deeper personalities. The game engine opened up new lighting effects, which play into the new lightsaber abilities like cutting, throwing and climbing. The game also features new grappling abilities, allowing players to climb their way through puzzles and defeat enemies. But beyond all of the new technology, the same philosophy that goes into making every plastic LEGO brick is employed with these digital creations from the U.K. developer.
John Gaudiosi has been covering video games for the past 17 years for media outlets such as The Washington Post, CNET, Wired magazine and CBS.com. He is editor in chief of GamerLive.tv and a game columnist for Reuters and RhMinions.com .