Hello all! Last week, we took a look at a Zelda game that many consider to be the worst, but it’s actually one of the most important.
This week, seeing as how yesterday was Star Wars Day, I decided to check out a Star Wars game. This one was pretty cool.
Star Wars: Republic Commando was developed and published by LucasArts, and is already ten years old. Taking place during the Clone Wars (so, between Star Wars Episode II and III), you play as the leader of Delta Squad, named Delta RC-1138. Or, “Boss.” The rest of your squad consists of “Fixer,” “Scorch,” and “Sev,” all with different personalities. Basically, there’s a Star Wars Mutant Ninja Turtles theme in the squad personality and dynamic; they even have different colors assigned to them.
Still, I eventually grew to sort of like my Clone Trooper buddies as we went on missions together. The dynamic between them all is entertaining, even if they’re a bit over-the-top sometimes. Plot-wise, you’re doing a bunch of...Star Wars stuff. The story didn’t really grab me when I played this way back, and really, it felt even less meaningful now.
But at least it’s fun to play. Republic Commando is a first-person-shooter; not a first for Star Wars, but it’s still a rarity for the franchise. Rather than pick up a huge variety of similar weapons, the game keeps it simple with just three. All your weapons are really one gun, transformed into the machine gun, sniper rifle, or grenade launcher via attachments. Most guns in FPS’s fall into one of these types anyway, so I like this approach.
Easily my favorite part of the game is the visor view. Inspired by Metroid Prime, Republic Commando uses a HUD designed like a helmet visor. It’s meant to feel like you’re really wearing the Trooper helmet, and the developers really nailed it. Meleeing an enemy results in blood/oil splattering on the visor, which is then swiftly wiped off. It’s immersive, and very cool.
There’s also a simple system for ordering your squad around. Point at something, press a button, and your squad clears a room, takes cover, or hacks a terminal. It’s not a complex system, but it’s effective, and you feel like the leader of a squad of badasses. And it gives your squad something to do besides follow you blindly.
It also adds some much needed depth to an otherwise simple game. While I enjoyed the simple weapon system as a change of pace, there’s also the fact that there’s only really three different environments, a light, inconsequential plot...the game is fun as hell, don’t get me wrong. But that’s what makes it so hard to come back to today. It’s like what I wrote about here; a game just being awesome and shallow might not be for me anymore.
And that’s why I’m conflicted about Republic Commando; it’s still fun to play, but you get nothing out of it. I sort of enjoyed my replay of it; it’s fun, the squad is pretty entertaining, at least in a superficial way.
But I can’t find a reason to care about the plot or characters. It’s shallow even by Star Wars standards. See, I like Republic Commando, and I don’t. That probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s how I feel. It’s fun, but...well, there’s a reason I’ve only played it twice in all these years. I just never felt the need to revisit it until I decided to write this piece.
The game holds up pretty well from a technical standpoint. Like I said, it plays well, but it also looks pretty good considering its age, and the sound and music are great if you’re into Star Wars. Voice acting in particular is superb.
Should you replay Republic Commando? Ah...maybe? If you liked it the first time, well, it’s still pretty cool, but it just feels completely depth-free these days. I mean, that’s how I feel about it. And yet, it’s still really fun to actually play. It’s more of a conundrum than I thought it would be, really. To be honest, I enjoyed my replay, but this one’s going back on the shelf, where it’ll likely remain for another few years. If these pure-action shooters are your thing (and you’re into Star Wars), go give it a look.
Thanks for reading my stuff! As always, leave comments, suggest future games to be featured as Game of the Week, and find me on Twitter! Also, catch up with my (currently on hiatus) other article series here!
Next week, I need a break from shooting, so I’m replaying a classic adventure game from 1999. Any guesses?