This fall, Sony Online Entertainment will release Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures, a free-to-play, browser-based virtual world based on the popular animated series. Based on SOE's Free Realms engine, the game will allow players to create a character and then enter a world where they'll have immediate access to a host of mini-games, with an emphasis on action, competition, and socializing.
The game, like the show, is clearly aimed at a younger audience. But after a short time with an early build of the game -- from pick-up-and-play speeder bike racing to a typing mini-game, to a super-addictive tower defense game -- there may be a bit of something for everyone in Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures.
Details and first impressions after the jump.
Learning lessons from Free Realms, the folks working have done everything they can to make navigation in Clone Wars Adventures as simple as possible. Instead of moving around a wide open world, players hop into smaller HUB-stages with "activity centers" attached. Each with its own theme based in the iconic Star Wars universe, here is where you'll be able to launch into the world's plethora of free-to-play games.
Moving around the HUB worlds was a snap, with either the click of the mouse or with classic WASD movement. As the game manages the camera for you, it'll point out interesting things to interact with, like recognizable to chat with; I had a quick, mini-conversation with Jedi Master Kit Fisto in my demo. The developers have also thrown in a handful of random objects to interact with (for the kids!); with some experimentation you might find that you can use Jedi powers to levitate boxes, for instance.
Moving into the games, there were about 16 in the build I played; I'm told more than 20 should make the cut when the game launches. Half a dozen of those 20 titles are said to be fleshed out 3D titles, with 15 to 20 stages a piece; many games will be simpler, Flash-based games.
I played a handful of games, including a simple-but-fun 3D speeder bike racing game. No breaking, no fancying turning, just movement left and right, hitting boost pads to gain speed; hit up to four for a super boost. While I played the game against AI, the final game will feature matchmaking, allowing you to compete with friends.
I also went hands on with a 3D starfighter game, flying iconic ships from the series that even Star Wars noobies would recognize. Using the WASD keys, I barrel rolled through space, firing at enemy ships in a recognizable Star Wars space-fighter environment. While it's possible to "die," simply completing the levels isn't the goal; instead, players are encouraged to earn multipliers by killing enemies in certain patterns, topping out their scores in the process. Like most of the games, it will feature a leaderboard to compare scores with friends; you'll even be alerted when your score has been beaten.
Of the simple Flash games, there was a typing tutorial style game. On the easiest level, Padawan, I used the home keys on the keyboard to tap out single letters to destroy ships. On Jedi Master, the stakes were a bit higher, the game more difficult, using all of the keys; there's even a "boss" ship that will have you typing out full words associated with the Star Wars universe.
But of all the games I played, it was the tower defense title that had me thinking I may be firing up my browser to get my Clone Wars Adventures on. This is a full-on 3D tower defense title, where you create turrets and other defensive weapons on top of silos to stop incoming waves of droids, tanks, and other enemy units. The game also features an active, action-oriented element in its use of special items. I received "Tank Mines" that, in order to use, you'd simply click on the screen to place them; you have five seconds to place up to five, so it's possible to spam this item with clicks all over the board.
For a free, browser-based title, the tower defense game looked excellent. In full 3D, I was able to zoom in and out with the mouse wheel to get a closer look at the action, gritting my teeth as an army of droids broke through my defenses. If tower defense is your thing, look to get addicted; I had to be pulled away from the demo PC, otherwise I might have played for hours.
While the game will be completely free to sign up for and play, you'll be able to purchase a number of "epic items" via microtransactions. There's even an optional monthly membership to unlock further content, as well.
Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures will launch online along with the upcoming season of the Star Wars Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network, which is slated for this fall.