XBOX REVIEW: STAR WARS REPUBLIC COMMANDO

Star Wars Republic Commando has all the makings of a great squad-based tactical shooter, but that's in appearance only. It's a darn good first-person shooter but it misses a lot of opportunities to go deeper. It hints at real-time strategy and you do have a little control over your teammates but the focus of this game is on action and accessibility to a wide range of gamers.

The original Star Wars movie is a classic, but it's pretty light fare. It's like American Graffiti in Outer Space. The characters are far too enduring and the story is a processed, thinly disguised fairytale. The entire LucasArts organization is so popular now that it's become the sci-fi equivalent of Disney. I know that many fans just like to bathe in the Star Wars atmosphere like some comforting, alien, embryonic sack but personally I just find it too predictable. Characters are either good or evil or struggling to become one or the other. Even when they're evil they're not "sick" evil. It's as though they are honoring a standard universal contract that outlines the professional definition of evil and all that it entails. I've had bosses that were more frightening than Darth Vader for crying out loud.

Fortunately, it seems that the boys in Lucas-land may have been feeling much the same way as I. Republic Commando takes us to a darker place in the Star Wars realm. It's a dangerous, nightmarish place full of murderous monsters and menacing robots. It's dirty, gritty, violent and a whole lot of fun. Imagine Star Wars meets Doom and you'll have a good idea of what this game is all about. The downside to the game is that underneath all the Star Wars veneer, the gameplay is incredibly unoriginal.

As the head of Delta Squad, you are in charge of a team of highly trained and individualistic clones. These clones all have their own personality and skills. They are referred to as the "deluxe models" and are capable of surviving very tough missions. These guys actually make good company for you since they carry their weight in battle and offer some interesting dialog throughout the three-campaign adventure.

Thrown into the heat of battle the boys know what to do. Simply gun down anything that appears to be a threat. Most of the time you will be forced down corridors where at any corner you may uncover a swarm of enemies. Obviously there's not much strategy you can employ with this style of gameplay but there are some more open areas where you get to relax your trigger finger and use your brain. I wish there were more controls for commands. The gameplay is very linear and it's all too obvious what you have to do and who you have to call to perform a specific task. At the very least you will feel as though your teammates are able to handle themselves in most situations. They will protect you, revive you, keep you company but most importantly they don't do really stupid things like stand in front of an open door and drop a grenade a few feet in front of the squad.

There are three huge campaigns in the single-player mode. It's not a long game but it's packed with action. You're almost glad it's over in the sense of feeling relieved. The pace of the action is perfect. You're never totally overwhelmed and you don't have any time to get bored. The online modes add some replay value but like the single-player mode, there's nothing here that you haven't played before. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Assault are play-by-the-numbers modes performed in a Star Wars setting. Up to 16 player can take part and you can customize your clone to look a little different than the others.

I wouldn't say this is an excellent looking game but it's good. I would have preferred more open areas that showed different terrain or buildings in the distance. The textures that are displayed are great and aren't recycled too often unless it's to replicate the sterile architecture of a manufactured environment such as a spaceship. You can't go wrong with the sound effects. They are tight, punchy, fuzzy and buzzy - all the futuristic sounds you've come to know and love. The voiceacting is well done and the script is polished. You'll have no trouble believing you're in the Star Wars universe.

This isn't a very long game and considering how generic the online modes are I would definitely recommend renting this. You'll pretty much deplete all of the fun out of in a couple of intense days.

 

Preview by Chris
Hands On: If you played SWBF, you may have seen the trailer for this one. Of course it was something you had to earn. It was also easy to overlook. I remember watching the short trailer and saying to myself "LucasArts may be onto something here". Of course trailers and demos are made to show the great parts of a game. However, it is amazing what you can learn from a demo. The demo while short is decent. The story is good and it looks like LucasArts is taking the series forward instead of rehashing the same old stories we all know and have played. I was also able to finally get some real features that the game will have and yes, the game will have an online mode that will support 16-players.

I will get into that later. Let's talk about the demo itself. While the demo did not give any background story or even an opening scene, it threw you right into the action. While I would have liked to see a little background story or info, it really was not needed. You're a Commander of an elite squad and need to watch out for their safety as well as your own. It sounds complicated but the controls were actually very easy to learn and keeping your men alive or giving orders is a lot like pointing and clicking. You simply aim over a man and you will see the order or to heal and then hit the "A" button. Once you revive a squad member he will heal anyone else who is down which is sort of handy. The game has a first person view and has a decent camera. I hope that the final product is a bit more polished. The "Hud" had some problems and wanted to jump around which got a bit on my nerves.

The action is intense and the graphics are great. No slow down and the things you need to react with such as computers, health supplies and elevators work great. The enemies had a wide range and while there are more in the game than in the demo. They all were great in how detailed they looked. Of course LucasArts normally has great sound effects in their games. This one is no exception although the music seemed to be missing and at times I would hear some faint sounds. I am sure this will be fixed in the final version as well.

The aiming is great and why they added an auto-aiming mode has me a little confused. Using it seemed harder than the normal firing mode. Switching weapons is easy and has some neat animations added as well. A wide range of weapons are said to be in the final version while the ones available in the demo were decent and interesting. They also responded well and even the grenades were easy to throw and aim without any trouble. A short demo yet, it did show promise. If the game is polished and has more intense levels, LucasArts seems to have another big hit on their hands. It certainly seems to have a lot going for it and with the online and single player modes it looks like this one will have something for any fan of Star Wars and may even draw in more fans that never got into the series. Take a look at the list of features and you may want to per-order this one since it will be on store shelves in March.

Press:

Star Wars Republic Commando is a squad-based first person shooter that lets you explore the elite world of the Star Wars military. Leading a 3-man squad of Republic Commandos, your missions take you deep behind enemy lines on over 14 intense and challenging levels through three different campaigns where you will face more than ten brutal enemies. You'll have more than a dozen deadly weapons at your disposal, but none more lethal than your squad. What makes the squad in Star Wars Republic Commando so unique is the game's innovative 'One Touch Squad Control' system that allows you to engage your squad with just one button.


Features:

  • · Explore the military side of the Star Wars universe like never before
  • Explore eight diverse environments including the hostile surface and subterranean setting of the planet Geonosis, the massive machine-like interiors of a Separatist Core Ship, a disabled and overrun Republic Assault Ship and the lower jungles and tree cities of the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk, while you take on special operations that feature hostage rescue, infiltration/data retrieval, assassination, assault, sabotage and reconnaissance objectives
  • Access to more than twelve authentic weapons including the primary Republic Commando firearm, the DC-17m and secondary weapon the DC-15s Blaster Pistol, as well as enemy weapons such as the Trandoshan Slaver Shotgun and Geonosian Elite Beam Weapon
  • Innovative squad combat utilizing intuitive and accessible "smart squad" command system featuring squad markers and stances
  • Challenging combat with enemies that include Trade Federation Super Battle Droids and Droidekas, Geonosian Warriors and Elites, and Trandoshan Slavers and Mercenaries.
  • Multi-player capabilities including deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag.
  • Play with up to 16 players online via X-box Live.
Preview by Chris

Hot off the success of Jedi Academy, Lucas Arts is again allowing players to explore the Star Wars Universe. The game play is set as an FPS shooter. Players will play online in several different mission types including rescue, scouting and sabotage just to mention a few. Along with the mission-based game play, they have included several brand new weapons and new places to visit. Jedi had a huge response from fans and from the early screen shots it looks like this one will be a great follow-up.

 

Players can expect both an epic offline mode and an online mode specially made for each version. The Xbox version will feature some things the PC version will not and vice versa. It seems Lucas Arts is going all out to insure their fans the best game possible and that is great to see. Players will meet the evil General Grievous and his loyal army of followers as the story unfolds all leading up to a massive battle and a few surprises. The details of the whole story line are not yet known. We do know that the story will follow the third movie in the trilogy. As of right now, Lucas Arts is promising 16-player online play for the Xbox and the PC versions. This is sure to entice fans of the movies to buy the game.

If Lucas Arts takes the time and makes it anywhere near Jedi Academy, this one is sure to get players online and have fun. The screen shots show off some neat visuals and this is only the early product so far. It looks like Lucas Arts is certainly onto something here and we will be watching this one closely. As soon as we have more screenshots and game features, we will update this one for sure!

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System: XBOX
Dev: LucasArts
Pub: LucasArts
Released: March 2005
Players: 1 - 16
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
2.0