Star Wars: The Clone Wars on the Gamecube was one of my all-time favorite games as a kid. Probably a weird one, but I gotta say it. And Clone Wars Conquest Mode was the crowning jewel. I’m gonna tell you all about it.
Obviously, being the very first big continuation of Attack of the Clones made it feel Important and Grand (even if its story was mostly ignored), so playing it felt like it satiated my great eight-year-old hunger for the next movie, still years away. Even if the game was kind of crap, I’d have still loved it. But actually, the game was a ton of fun. Or at least, it was when I was a kid. I am not actually sure how it holds up… Although, seeing as developer Pandemic got to make Battlefront right after, I’m sure it’s not just the nostalgia talking. Mostly.
Anyway, while Battlefront is remembered and talked about almost twenty years later (shudder), The Clone Wars is barely talked about at all. Heck, other games of its era like Jedi Outcast, Republic Commando, KOTOR, and Bounty Hunter are still super fondly remembered and even got re-releases. But I hardly ever hear anyone discuss The Clone Wars anymore. Which is weird, because of how it kinda sorta helped pioneer a sub-genre that nobody remembers. They did it through Clone Wars Conquest Mode.
The campaign was fun, mixing in air battles, vehicle battles, and on-foot Jedi battles. The latter one was the weak point (just like with Rogue Squadron 3), but it was still fun enough; you got to play as Jedi and throw your lightsabers and stuff! But the main draw was absolutely the multiplayer, which packed all those shooter multiplayer types. Deathmatch, king of the hill, that sort of thing. It also had two “academy” modes where the human players faced off against wave after wave of enemies, either in vehicles or, in a cool twist, actually in the Geonosis arena itself. I don’t know how popular horde mode type games were back in 2002, but it was cool to see it before that mode got super popular.
But the one that stuck around the most, the one that made The Clone Wars a perennial local multiplayer favorite, was Conquest mode. AKA, a friggin’ proto-MOBA.
Here, watch a video that features every single multiplayer mode. Conquest Mode footage starts at about 18:00 and goes until about 45:00, if you want to skim it:
The Clone Wars Conquest Mode
So, the gameplay of Conquest mode is pretty simple. There’s two bases at the ends of relatively symmetrical maps, and you’ve got to destroy the enemy base. You capture various outposts, which spawn turrets that shoot lasers at foes. Then, when the outposts are fully captured, they’ll start spawning CPU-controlled vehicles that charge towards the enemy base. All the while, you get to roam around the map, attacking outposts and using any of the game’s many cool vehicles to unleash massive damage.
Watch a video that features a nice selection of Conquest mode gameplay:
If you’re familiar at all with the MOBA game, you’ll see what I’m talking about. There’s lanes of attack, distinct “hero” players, turrets and tides of battle… Honestly, when I first played League of Legends in 2013 (only once, I promise), I gasped when I realized how much the game resembled my childhood favorite. It’s all rudimentary, nowhere near as complex as any game in the genre today. But who cares? It’s a bonus mode packed into an otherwise feature-filled game!
There’s also a Conquest mode on the Xbox version. That one existed right in the beginning of Xbox Live, and was one of the games to kick off online gaming in a big way. I don’t hear much about it, either, but it seems quite different; turrets operate manually, and battlefields are bigger and more open. Also, the framerate is terrible lol:
Since the Xbox version came out later and was so focused on online play, it seems a bit more advanced. But, in that, it also seems a little more shooter-centric and less MOBA-esque. Still, this is probably the version most people remember.
That is… if anyone ever remembers the game at all.
Not the First MOBA, But Still Historic
Nobody ever, ever talks about The Clone Wars as a MOBA pioneer, and I want that to change.
The MOBA genre started with a Starcraft mod in 1998. I’m sure the developers of Pandemic were inspired by that when they created Conquest mode. But… Let’s give this game some credit. It beat DOTA by a year! It remains a solid prototype for what the genre would become; all it needs is some distinctive Characters and bam.
Since the game is all but forgotten, I can’t imagine it actually influenced DOTA or any of the games to come aftewards. But it still deserves a place in the history of the now very famous genre. For the terrible way Pandemic went out as a developer, it did a lot of really cool, bold stuff, and we should celebrate that.
Read my other Star Wars blog post! It involves the Clone Wars too. But not Clone Wars Conquest Mode.
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