It's a rare case when a game based on a movie turns out to be any good. Usually the title is enough of a selling point that the design takes a back seat, leaving you with a crummy game and an empty pocket. It's especially been the case with Star Wars games over the years but in this case Revenge of the Sith is a pleasant surprise.
Although talking of surprises, if you haven't actually seen the movie yet (and want to), this is not the game for you as it follows the plot of the film and reveals a few of the twists and turns.
Starting out you can play as either Obi-Wan Kenobi or his unruly padawan, or student, Anakin Skywalker. The first few levels are the same for both before they split up to follow their own story paths. Each has two difficulty settings - Padawan and Jedi. The Master level is only unlocked if you complete the game on Jedi setting, allowing you to play through again with all the extras you unlocked the first time around, which is handy because the enemies are a lot harder to beat.
The gameplay is much like that of a classic side scrolling beat-em up. You make your way from left to right, dispatching the bad guys as you go. The screen can get pretty packed with imperial droids and other recognisable characters from the movie, but your trusty light saber will soon reduce them to piles of scrap metal that you can then throw at other enemies using your force powers. In fact, the different force abilites are a real highlight; everything from force pull/push to reflecting blaster fire with your light saber is tremendous fun. As you progress through the game you'll also unlock special force moves that you can execute when you've charged up your force bar.
And this is one way in which the two playable characters differ. As Anakin treads the path to the dark side, you get powers such as 'force choke' to play with. Also as you make your way through a level you will discover gems, collect enough of these and you'll be able to upgrade your characters stats to make them tougher and stronger.
In terms of how well the game uses DS, the graphics don't really push it to its limits, but they are well designed and never confusing, even when the screen gets busy. The upper screen is where the action takes place, while the lower screen offers the opportunity to activate your special moves by jabbing with your stylus, although key combinations do just as well. Ubisoft has taken full advantage of Lucasarts' massive library of Star Wars sound effects and music too, as the audio is excellent throughout which helps set the scene perfectly.
But while everything described so far is of the highest quality, most could easily be applied to the version of the game released for the Gameboy Advance. So if this were the end of the review there would be little reason to recommend this game over its GBA counterpart. Ubisoft have given DS owners a massive bonus in the form of extra 3D flying levels however.
During the single player campaign, each character has the opportunity to jump into his spacecraft for some shoot-em-up action. Not only does it break up the side-scrolling levels quite nicely, but these flying levels really show off the strengths of the platform. The graphics run very smoothly and, having an extra screen to play with, the radar and ammo status information is all moved onto the lower screen. And more impressively, these flying levels also form the basis of the multiplayer game too, with up to four buddies getting together for a dogfight using one copy of the game.Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is on sale now.