Review by Daveo
"Well-done, fun and innovative, though with shortcomings."
Republic Commando is a bit out of the ordinary for a game carrying the Star Wars franchise, more about brutal tactical firefights than starships, lightsabers and The Force.
Graphics: This is a pretty good looking game. Models show plenty of detail, the HUD interface is very well done, essentially putting you in the visor of 38, the leader of your detachment. Blood, rain and cracks can appear on your display, though they are quickly wiped off by a crisp electronic effect. The animations make your squad look like an elite SWAT unit, though animations like the door breach are repeated every time they're used.
The good: Details. Lots of details.
The bad: Animations tend to repeat themselves.
Section score: 8/10
Sound: The voice acting is crisp overall. All of your squad members show a lot of personality, and give off very believable performances, complete with some humorous interludes ("No terminal can resist my l33t haxor skills") and even a sort of lingo the squad develops. Weapons sound about as powerful as they look, and the original soundtrack fits the mood whenever it comes in. The pain sounds of your squad, however, lack polish in that there's no real distinction between minor and major hits taken when your squadmates' shields are down, meaning that sometimes you'll hear a sort of unrealistic "aaah!aaargh! aaah!" series of shouts at times when a commando is taking fire.
The good: The voice acting. The rest of the sound/music is fairly nice too.
The bad: Distracting damage feedback vocals sometimes creep up.
Section score: 8/10
Gameplay: I was very impressed at first. The biggest component of Republic Commando is working with your squad. Context-sensitive commands let you assign them to do something like take a sniping position (the only time you'll see them use their sniper attachment), revive a fallen comrade, set a demolition charge or spike a terminal. You can tell them to concentrate fire, go on offense, defend a point or follow you closely, and generally the AI of your friends is very good. They use cover well and are very valuable to have around: you'll feel especially vulnerable on the missions where you're separated from them. Also, so long as at least one of them is alive, you can call for one to revive you if you die, just as you can revive them.
However, your arsenal feels limited at times. Your main weapons are your blaster, sniper rifle, grenade launcher and pistol, although in later levels there are a few types of pickup weapons to be found. Most standard enemies, at least in the normal difficulty, lack challenge: melee attacks kill most in one hit and it only takes a few blaster rounds otherwise. Thankfully, a few types of stronger opponents are present in most encounters, and teamwork is sometimes needed to take them down. The selection of opponents, though, could be better. A few kinds of bugs, a few kinds of bugs, a few kinds of mercenaries.. the only real boss is the Spider Droid, which you fight about half a dozen times in all, albeit with slightly different circumstances each time. Most encounters seem to revolve around covering a squadmate (or getting covered) while you/they complete a task like setting charges or hacking into a terminal, and by the end of the game (which comes quickly. this is a short game with very short levels) it gets a tad stale.
I know that all sounds a bit harsh, but the good by far outweighs the bad. Repetition becomes a little apparent by the end, but thankfully the core gameplay is fun and fresh enough to make it hard to put down for the whole eight or so hours it takes to finish this one.
The good: Great squad-based combat, some nice concepts
The bad: Could use better selection of enemies/weapons, too short.
Section score: 8/10
Should the developers decide to make a sequel out of this one, we may have a promising series on our hands. Even though this game sorely needs a longer campaign and a little more variety, on its own it's easy to recommend to Star Wars or shooter fans. May want to consider renting, as you can easily finish Republic Commando in a weekend.
The verdict: 8/10
Despite all its flaws, a very solid title.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/16/07
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