A Sneak Peek
Set in the time period between Episode II leading into Episode III, Star Wars Republic Commando covers both new and familiar environments. The game features more than thirteen levels with missions spanning an assasination attempt of a Seperatist leader, the catacombs of Geonosis to the introduction of the mysterious General Grievous and his deadly bodyguards from the upcoming Star Wars: Episode III.
Episode II did at least have some pretty fantastic battle scenes in it, and the Clone Troopers (ancient grand-daddys of the Storm Troopers from the later Episodes) were quite cool. Now it looks like someone’s constructed a rather neat back-story and a game to boot dealing with the republic’s own intergalactic commandos. According to the game’s mythos, the original clone troops became hopelessly inefficient, not being able to construct decent battle strategies because of their lack of individuality. So units of close-knit commandos were formed into elite squads capable of teamwork and individual thought, thus making them a formidable combat unit.
The game deal with Delta Squad, 4 “clones” each with their own specialities and tastes. The player is Delta 58 - the leader of Delta Squad and a good all-rounder. In amongst your team you have a heavy weapons specialist who also deals quite neatly with combat demolition work. You also have a sniper and a hacking expert but all four members of the team are quite capable of working on any tasks you give them. And it’s this particular game dynamic that I became impressed with early on.
Long gone are the horribly long-winded button presses to assign commands to a squad. Now, when there is a task to be done, a holographic “context-sensitive” order will flash up on your visor and you can assign one or more of your unit to the task with one button press. It really is so easy that the game doesn’t even bother with much of a tutorial and throws you straight into the action. The game takes place historically between Episode II and III so you will see a fair amount of scenery and characters from both, including one of the game’s most impressive character types - the Wookies. These guys are absolutely HUGE and when one of your tiddly squad stands next to a Wookie, you’ll be glad they’re on your side.
This game owes quite a bit to other console FPS classics like Metroid Prime and Halo, as well as a cursory nod to all those endless Tom Clancy games. Though I find the Republic Commandos have a personality that sucks you into the game’s setting quite nicely, rather more so than a mindless bunch of elites rescuing hostages. Graphically there’s a bit of poly-tearing here and there and vertical synching problems. But to be honest if you notice them, then you really shouldn’t be playing FPS games on your XBox at all. In-game graphics are pleasing to the eye and there are some truly jaw-dropping effects in the game . The PC version, as you can expect, heightens all this at impressive frame-rates. There is also an absolutely beautiful set of effects when you get any gunk (or damage) on your visor. A neat little laser-line comes along and cleans or repairs it. Little touches like this suck the player into the game world and make them feel a real part of what’s going on.
Star Wars Republic Commandos seems to be one of a new breed of Star Wars games that actually restores player’s faith in licensed titles. Star Wars Battlegrounds showed that you could have a decent “Battlefield” style game set in the universe, and now SWRC shows that you don’t have to rely on Jedi’s to knock together a decent FPS.