Developer*Traveller's Tales' LEGO games have never succeeded because they had the best puzzles or incredibly satisfying combat. In fact, in these regards, they were usually pretty mediocre. But they made up for the lack of awesome gameplay with adorable aesthetics and great use of the license. The latest,LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, continues the trend, immediately grabbing fans like me with its smart use of the subject matter and cute visuals, and kept me engaged despite bugs and other issues with its large mix of simplistic gameplay elements. The final combination is just good, simple fun.*
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars covers seasons one and two of the popular animated series. Fans of the show get to act out their favorite moments (albeit as adorable LEGO characters), playing a variety of characters ranging from powerful Jedi to the lowliest droids. And like the other LEGO games, players have to use each character's unique abilities to overcome enemies and environmental puzzles.*
The puzzles and combat in LEGO Star Wars III aren't amazing. You might occasionally be surprised at a moment where a puzzle is genuinely clever, but they mostly either held my hand entirely or made the solution so obfuscated that they were frustrating rather than rewarding to solve. Likewise, the combat isn't all that exciting with its one-button-does-everything system. But, like so much of the LEGO games design, when you combine these two relatively unexciting portions together, something strange happens: It becomes a simple, engaging game.
Maybe it's because together they break up the pacing and keep you in situations that are constantly forcing you to adapt, or perhaps it's because they're so easy to understand that you can kind of zone out and lose yourself to what's going on on-screen. Either way, I became lost to the grind of the adventure. And I enjoyed it.*