Star Wars Rebellion
Review by darkknight109
"Addictive and Fun, but Ridiculously Complex"
Rebellion is a fairly unique game in the Star Wars saga, set aside from its often simplistic brethren by its monumental difficulty curve. The first warning signs that you're in for a good session of head scratching comes when you first open the game and note that the instruction manual looks like a small novel, with over 200 roughly magazine-sized pages dedicated to telling you just how the heck you're supposed to play this game.
The game clearly isn't for everyone and those of you looking for a game that is very quick to learn and gets you right into the fray very quickly should perhaps take a look at the more recent Star Wars: Empire at War. Rebellion has developed something of a cult following, since it's very much a love it or hate it type of game; if you find yourself enjoying the game, you'll probably sink a lot of time into it, but if you find the game overly awkward and complex, you probably won't pay it so much as a second glance.
The game actually reminds me very much of Sid Meier's Civilizations, albeit in a slightly more complex, less user-friendly Star Wars shell. Like Civs, it is one of those games that will make you keep saying, Just a few more turns, just a few more turns... oh ****, is that the sun? and you'll probably find yourself more than once shutting the computer off over an hour after you initially decided to call it quits for the night.
The graphics of the game are fairly ho-hum, even for the game's release period of 1998. The battles consist of a bunch of blocky, polygonal ships shooting coloured lines at each other. This part of the game is almost shameful, since games that came out half a decade earlier, like TIE Fighter, featured more convincing and better looking combat. There are a few in-game cinematics that play when something important happens (like when the Empire destroys the Rebel base or the Rebels succeed in blowing up a Death Star). These are actually quite good quality, particularly for the time-frame of the game. It's really quite a shame that the rest of the game isn't of a better graphical calibre.
The game's storyline is fairly straightforward. The Empire/Rebellion (you choose which side you want to work for) has hired you as their supreme commander and asks you to lead their forces to victory over their foes. You'll spend most of the game looking at a galactic map featuring the various in-game worlds. This is where you manipulate the various forces, fleets and special characters under your command and send them out to do your building. The interface is actually fairly clunky at first glance, and certainly lacks the user-friendliness of other strategy games, but it's functional once you get the hang of things.
The gameplay itself is where things get interesting. In order to win the game, you must capture the two leader characters of the opposing side (Luke Skywalker and Mon Mothma for the Rebellion, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader for the Empire). In addition, the rebels must capture and hold Coruscant, while the Empire must destroy the rebel base (located on an unknown planet in the outer rim randomly determined at the start of each game). The road to victory obviously lies in combat, but there are so many different strategies you can employ it makes the game wonderfully complex.
You can, for example, mount an aggressive diplomatic campaign to sway neutral worlds to your cause and, thus, defeat your opponent by simply swaying popular opinion against them and forcing them to fight back through a massive resource gradient. Or, for the sneaky, stealthy types out there, you can let espionage and sabotage be your weapons and take apart your opponent's planets without even firing a shot. Or, you could send expansionary fleets to colonize the unexplored outer rim and build an empire hidden from the eyes of your opponents. Or, for the classic warlords out there, there's always the direct approach by building huge battlefleets and taking the galaxy by storm.
Rebellion has so many complex systems, from the planet loyalty system to the mission system to the Jedi system to the R&D system to the resource system that it would be nearly impossible to list and describe them all here. To say that it's difficult to learn the game quickly is a gross understatement and if you're considering buying this game, I'd advise you to find someone online who has it so they can help you learn the ropes.
The only time the game deviates from you ordering your various forces around the galaxy is when two opposing fleets meet over a planet. When this happens, you'll be launched into a space battle sequence where you'll issue orders to your fleet on what they should be shooting at. The space battles are a neat little distraction, if somewhat awkward to control, and provide a nice sort of mini-game in your campaign for galactic dominance. Regrettably, there is nothing similar for ground forces attacking one another, in spite of the game having quite a few options for ground defences, such as differing troop types and ground structures like shield generators and turbolaser cannons.
Playing Rebellion competitively is a monstrous undertaking, so you'll find few people willing to do it, but it is fun nonetheless, despite needing many workarounds to overcome old technology issues. However, most people will find themselves playing single player for the majority of the time. The AI in single player, even on the hardest difficulty, is phenomenally stupid, making the game less of a challenge than it should be, though the game still succeeds in being wonderfully engaging. The only downside to such a poor AI is it gives you little preparation for actual competitive matches against other players, as you will have a slim idea of what tactics are good and what tactics are not.
The sound is fairly well done. Music from Star Wars plays throughout the game, adding a nice air of ambience to your Rebellion experience. Each side has a pair of droids helping the player make sense of the game and inform you when important events occur. The Rebellion gets C-3PO and R2-D2 from the movies, while the Empire gets the delightfully haughty IMP-22 and SD-7, a pair of droids making their only appearance to date in this game. Some of the major characters also have voice acting, spouting off little one-liners when you order them to do something. The voice acting isn't great, but isn't bad either.
Overall, the game is great fun, though admittedly very hard to get into. If you're the type of person who loves strategy games and spends hours upon hours playing Civs or other such games, Rebellion will find a nice spot in your games library. Those of you who enjoy fast action, a quick pace and easy to pick up games should steer clear of this one. The game has a good length to it, and a single campaign can take upwards of 20 hours to complete, depending on your playstyle. There's a lot to explore and have fun with, and, as is the nature of most strategy games, no two play sessions will ever be the same, giving the game good replay value.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/04/08
Game Release: Star Wars Rebellion (US, 02/28/98)
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