Thursday, 03 March 2005
We go (Republic) Commando with the latest Star Wars game to hit the shelves.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Okay, so everybody knows how the Star Wars films are introduced with the scrolling text; even in some games the scrolling text happens, but LucasArts have decided to leave it out in their new Star Wars title for the Xbox: Star Wars Republic Commando. Having not been the biggest fan of Star Wars, I didn’t know what to expect. While I expected it to have strong ties with the specific film, with so many varied games based on the franchise I couldn't be sure what I was letting myself in for. Having not played any Star Wars games thoroughly enough, I certainly looked up on them; we previously reviewed the sequel to one of the best RPG’s to be set upon the Xbox, and one of the best titles to be released in 2003, (Knights Of The Old Republic), in Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Without wasting more precious words on an introduction, let's begin the review.
Starting as games do with an introduction in true FMV style, you’ll be shown been brought into the world; seeing your birth in front of your eyes, but you don’t see it actually happening, you’re there, you are in the body of this individual. Getting introduced to the world, you are told who you are; in this case, you are 38, one-quarter of ‘Delta Squad’ which consists of three other members who are your ‘brothers’, these are also numbered and have a nickname; 62 (Scorch), 40 (Fixer) and 07 (Sev); all of whom are very useful in their own ways, apparently.
The game has been effectively divided into two genres, First-Person-Shooter and Action-Adventure - something that is difficult to accomplish (kudos to Metroid Prime), although we personally think it leans towards the FPS genre overall as it really is a straightforward game and doesn’t require you to search around a world or travel distances for specific items, but it does require you to go through individual levels completing various objectives such as hacking into systems. Starting off right in the middle of the battle, you’ll fight with your squad through enemy machines known as Battle Droids - but these are easy to defeat as you can use your melee attack to kill them in one go; the melee attack is a short knife which you can slash your enemies with, either delivering the killer blow, or taking persistence to do so.
You’ll command your squad to help you progress as each squad member has a speciality in a specific area; we were quite puzzled when there were multiple objects to hack into, but Fixer (the commando with all the brains) would take on the challenge, and we expected him to take a smaller amount of time to hack it, rather than any other commando, but because you can do multiple objectives by command. Fixer will start to hack into a system, and as you want the others to be hacked, you get another commando doing the same thing in the same amount of time; hence the reasoning in a commando having specialities, yet multiple commandos can do the same objective in the same amount of time as that specialist commando – rendering these special talents somewhat pointless.
The game plays very well, and has some detailed areas such as the visor. Your HUD consists of your health, your squads health, your weapon in your hand and how many grenades you have - if you have any. A very interesting feature is the way your visor gets cleaned by a wiper. If you melee attack an enemy, their blood or fluid will go on your visor, but as soon as your enemy has been killed, simultaneously your visor will be automatically wiped clean; making it visible for you to see - it's a very stylish touch.
The sound and visuals of Star Wars Republic are another two highlights of the game - typical of Star Wars games. You become very immersed in the world around you as you play, you feel like you truly are inside the body of 38. Listening to your team is vital, as they’ll help you out in dangerous situations, knowing who is who will help you so you can command them to do specific task; i.e. sniper. The visuals are highly impressive, with the locations you battle through looking detailed, and explosions and other effects showing a high degree of realism. The enemies and your squad are detailed and replicate the enemies from Episode II.
The game also has multiplayer options; split screen and Xbox Live. Originally playing the split screen, the game has nothing on previous highlighted titles such as Halo 2 or Rainbow Six 3; although they’re different in their own way. The game really loses its touch in this area, as the single player mode is where the heart of the game lies, unlike most FPS titles in which developers focus on the multiplayer side of the game and not the single-player part - something we at AltGaming feel is sorely lacking in this new game.
Overall, though Star Wars: Republic Commando does indeed have its faults, it certainly is a quality game. Though repetitive at times, with poorly executed AI and multiplayer modes, the absorbing and immersive single player campaign that the game offers brings it 'up there' with the likes of Rogue Leader and Battlefront. LucasArts have done better than this - but then again, they've also done worse. Star Wars Republic Commando is definately worth a look.