Review by DouglasFett
Nice job LucasArts, nice job
Back when us Star Wars fans were going nuts about Ep. III coming out, we had all sorts of games to whet our appetite. KOTOR 1-2, Jedi Outcast, Halo 2, Metroid Prime, Rainbow Six...you know, those last three are intriguing. Because say for example you take all three, throw them into an orgy, and what do you get? Mando'a speaking clones of Jango Fett that kick ass and don't need no wimpy Jedi around to get the job done. The boys in white have it covered.
Yah. This game was pretty sweet. Let's look at this logically. Most Star Wars games deal with Jedi and Sith, who in the Star Wars universe are a bunch of over-privileged di'kutla (that's a little Mando'a for ya) that ruin the galaxy every couple of decades over some ancient feud (that for some reason they can't settle between themselves, they have to make everyone else suffer for it). Fortunately, those of us that have no patience for these silly Jedi whelps were given the Dark Forces series, along with such standalone titles such as Shadows of the Empire (featuring Dash Rendar) and Bounty Hunter (featuring Jango Fett). Unfortunately, the DF/JK series died and became one with the Force with Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Battle Front was highly successful, but we needed a game that was more heavily focused on the Fett clones. It was time for LucasArts to get it's butt in gear and give us something new.
Enter from stage left Republic Commando, first released as a novel in late 2004 (which branched out into an amazing and successful series that was sadly killed by Lucas' Clone Wars animated series) and then as an FPS in 2005. No, this wasn't some quick and easy shooter like Battle Front, this was a squad-based shooter that was TOUGH. And bloody. And gritty. Finally. A Star Wars game NOT for kids.
1. Sound/Graphics 10/10: Temeura Morrison reprises his role as Jango Fett...or more specifically, Fett's clones, as he voices the player-character, RC-1138. Classic Star Wars tunes, along with vocals in Mando'a (I suppose I should mention Mando'a is the Mandalorian language...Trekkies have Klingon, we have Mando'a. So there ya go.), make up the game's soundtracks, which are pleasing to the ear. The look of the game was pretty spectacular for 2005, easily on par with Halo 2 and Metroid Prime. No blocky characters or anything silly like that. It can be generally said that the game is "dark," both in tone and look. More on this below.
2. Story: Taking a page from real world SpecOps organizations such as the S.A.S or Delta Force, Republic Commando has the player take control of an elite group of Clone Commandos. With a squad comprised of four such elite soldiers, the player is taken behind enemy lines, from the beginning battle of the Clone Wars [Geonosis] to a derelict Republic Assault ship, and finally to the end of the Clone Wars, with a heavy emphasis on the skirmishes on Kashyyyk leading up to the main confrontation seen in Ep. III. The game was meant to help bridge the gap between Ep. 2 and 3, but is it pulled off correctly? Sure, sure. The first setting is on Geonosis, and the final setting is on Kashyyyk, leading directly up to Yoda's arrival.
The problem is that the story doesn't flow. Yes, you go to these three locations with your squad, but the three locales are hardly connected with one another. They are each separate engagements, so the game feels more like a "Clone Commando Chronicles" game than a properly told story. The other problem is that, as previously mentioned, there are only three locales. While each setting is incredibly huge, the gameplay, unfortunately, gets repetitive. Fast. If the game had been stretched out over multiple locales (at least five or six), the gameplay would have seemed fresh before getting dull. Unfortunately, Lucas and his affiliated companies (LucasFilm, LucasArts) have a history of making....bad products. The prequel films, obviously. Gladius (2003). The movie-based games for episodes 1 and 2. Even the recent Force Unleashed games were lacking. Unfortunately, this is Republic Commando's weakest point. It just got old, really quickly. But continuing on.
Your Squad - Wow. Thats a good 'wow.' For all the years that squad-based games have been around, its odd to see that this particular game (from a game company that doesn't always get its priorities straight) somehow stumps every other squad based game out there. Even recent squad-games, like Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, fails to live up to RC's legacy. The beautiful thing about RC is the AI. Both for the enemy (which are tough without being dumb), and your squad. They will automatically take cover, return fire, and just act and feel like actual Elite Operatives, and not just some programmed AI that stand and respond. Your squad of Clones act like REAL people. Like shoving and ripping apart an enemy droid, or even reviving the player. Man, I can't tell you how much I loved that feature. When the player-character goes down in combat, your squadmates can revive you. You can also revive them, or order your other team mates to it. I mean really, how many other squad-based shooters have this feature? In most games like this, if your squad goes down, you can revive them. But if the player goes down, game over, reload to the last save [cough *Rainbow Six* cough]. Squad commands are given via a simple 'point and click' system, to man a turret, breach an entrance, revive a team mate, etc.
Combat? Players are equipped with a blaster pistol (infinite ammunition), and a blaster rifle that is seemingly the Star Wars equivalent of the F2000 M.A.W.S. (modular assault weapon system). It's a sniper rifle, it's an assault rifle, it can even fire off explosives. Many other weapons, such as shotguns or submachine guns (yes, there are guns in the Star Wars universe that don't fire lasers. They're called slug-throwers, a slug being a bullet), are available to find as well. Like Halo and Metroid Prime, the character has rechargeable shields, and health that can be boosted by bacta (the Star Wars equivalent of the miracle drug - anything that can instantly heal you) stations.
Multi-player - Fun. Generally fun. Four player split screen, and back in the day an Xbox Live hit. Players had the ability to modify their Clone's appearance, although this was always rendered moot due to the game seemingly forgetting SAVED settings when MP games actually started. Was this ever fixed in a patch? Beats me.
So after playing this game, what is there to say? Finally, a gritty, action packed Star Wars game that is not about bottomless pits, lightsabers, etc etc. Its about characters that are gruff and tough like iron, its about the troops who do the actual fighting, not some Jedi that waves his sword around and somehow wins the day. No, this is the real deal. The combat is intense, and the gameplay is difficult. But as previously mentioned, there's something lacking. The gameplay gets very old, very fast, in a very small amount of time. It doesn't help that there is no co-op option for the story mode, meaning you'll be toughing out this one on your own. Even earlier Rainbow Six games allowed human players to take up squad positions formerly occupied by AI team mates. SO. If you are looking for a classic SW shooter that isn't Dark Forces or Battle Front, is RC worth a shot at least? Most definitely. Yes it has its shortcomings, but it was a step in the right direction for Star Wars shooters.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Star Wars: Republic Commando (US, 02/28/05)
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