Star Wars: Republic Commando – PC
Release Date: March 1, 2005
Genre: First Person Shooter
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Cloud3514
Back in 2005, Star Wars was in the middle of the prequel trilogy. Episode II had come out a few years prior and Episode III was just around the corner. To cash in on the hype of what was then believed to be the final Star Wars film, Republic Commando slipped in two months before the premier of Revenge of the Sith and unexpectedly became not just a solid first person shooter, but one of the best Star Wars games ever released. This review is of the PC version, but I have played the Xbox adaptation and it’s very similar.
Starring Delta Squad, a team of elite clone commandos, who are tasked with particularly high risk missions that other clone troopers can’t handle, the game’s story is in three acts.
The first takes place on Geonosis during the events of Attack of the Clones, detailing one of Delta Squad’s early missions. The second act takes place on a derelict Republic war ship, where Delta Squad encounters a group of Trandoshan slavers, and leads into the third act, which takes place on Kashyyyk, the Wookie homeworld. The plot proper has to do with stopping the Trandoshan slaving operations and find out what connection they have to the separatist Trade Federation, but there isn’t much to it and largely only serves to tell you where you’re fighting.
The characters, however, are a different story. While they only serve to add flavor to the game, your squadmates each have distinct personalities.
The player character, RC-1138 “Boss,” is a no-nonsense commander of few words, the team’s demolitions expert, RC-1262 “Scorch,” is a sarcastic soldier who enjoys blowing things up too much, the sniper, RC-1207 “Sev,” constantly exchanges sarcastic blows with Scorch, usually joking about his love of explosions and RC-1140 “Fixer,” the computer expert, serves as a levelheaded contrast to the other team members.
Also of note is the comments that your squad will make if you inadvertently (or not so inadvertently) shoot them or hit them with grenades or other explosives. They will make snide comments at Boss’s expense such as “Maybe 38’s a clone of a clone of a clone?”.
Each character makes what could have been a cold squad based shooter into a much more flavored experience. This is good because these four characters are the only ones you’re going to interact with on a regular basis.
What helps the lack of story, though, is the grim tone the game has. There isn’t a Jedi to be seen and it feels like you’re in the middle of a war because you are. Very few Star Wars games take this direction for a reason. Star Wars is typically an optimistic setting, but this is not. Despite this, it is still easy to tell that it is Star Wars. Everything looks like a dark version of it, the music is often ripped straight from the films and the settings are familiar.
Speaking of the music, as I said, much of it is ripped straight from the films. More often than not, however, you will hear a variation of the game’s main theme, “Vode An,” a Mandalorian war chant that is played over the main menu. It is a grim piece that perfectly sets the stage for what you’re about to play.
As expected of a shooter of the time, the game play has similarities to Halo with the controls on the X-Box version being almost identical to the original Halo. Where it differs, however, is that it is also squad based. With the exception of a few particular parts of the game, your squad mates are always with you and you can give them context-sensitive orders with the touch of a button. Depending on where you are, you can tell them to take a sniping or anti-armor position, hack a computer terminal, plant an explosive, focus fire on one particular enemy and so on and so forth.
Luckily, while not perfect, the squad is competent. They get the job done and generally don’t get in the way. It’s nice to see some competence in the AI for once. At the same time, however, you can do everything the squad can do. In theory, this means that you can set the squad to their tasks, then slice a terminal to activate some turrets. In practice, this means that you can completely ignore the rest of the squad for the most part and do everything yourself, though it is considerably more difficult to go about things this way.
There is some decent weapon variety, as well. Your primary weapon is a blaster rifle with attachments that has it take the place of the usual assaul rifle, sniper rifle and grenade launcher. You also always get a recharging pistol side arm that is only useful when you run out of ammo as it is the least powerful gun and replaces your usual melee attack (which is a punch dagger in your armor’s wrist) with a weak pistol whip.
On top of this, you can pick up the weapons used against you by the insectoid Geonosians, the Trandoshans, as well as two Wookie weapons, the typical bowcaster (which looks awesome, but is completely outclassed by your sniper attachment in every way) and a devastatingly powerful rocket launcher. Even Boss is surprised when he first finds a Wookie rocket launcher, commenting on it’s power and size.
Visually, the game looks great… for a 2005 release. There’s not a whole lot to say about it. It has aged decently with the touches of seeing the sides and top of Boss’s helmet and the blood splatter and damage on his faceplate being a nice touch that shows that the developers were probably playing quite a bit of Metroid Prime while working on the game.
Strictly speaking, Republic Commando doesn’t really do anything new, but what it does is is done so well that you won’t notice. Squad command is very simplified, but it works, the weapons are little more than typical shooter weapons with Star Wars skins, but that’s all they need to be.
Multiplayer is non-existant. Well, it’s there, but the X-Box version’s X-Box Live functionality has been gone for years and the PC version used the now shut down Gamespy service. I’m not really sure if this is a bad thing. As I said, the game is pretty derivative of Halo, so I can’t imagine that the multiplayer would be all that interesting anyway, but in fairness, it is unfortunate that I can’t check for sure.
It really is a great experience. A must play for Star Wars fans and highly recommended for shooter fans in general. Although the surprise appearance of General Grevious and the preview of Revenge of the Sith’s Kashyyyk setting isn’t as special as it was at the game’s release, it’s still more than worth playing through at least once.
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