Game: Star Wars: Republic Commando
Star Wars: Republic Commando is set in the period between Episode 2 and 3. But there’s no need to run away just because it’s set during the newer films! Unlike almost every other game from the period, this one is actually good. And for once, it doesn’t involve lightsabres.
Republic Commando is a squad based FPS game. I avoided saying tactical, since there’s very little in the way of tactics required, but the squad system does help give the game a more military feel that’s unique in Star Wars games. The storyline is that you’re the leader of a bunch of clone commandos, and are sent on missions to do things that involve shooting and blowing stuff up. And that’s about it. You do three missions, each comprised of a large number of smaller levels, with no real overarching storyline. Your squad comprises of three clones, imaginatively called 07, 40 and 62. They each have a distinctive personality which comes through in occasional bickering and comments they make at various points in the level, but it doesn’t make a great deal of difference, and they’re just three different soldier stereotypes anyway. It tells you how each character differs at the start of the game, but thanks to the incredible naming system, five minutes later I didn’t have a clue which was which. And it didn’t really matter to the gameplay, for reasons I will reveal later. Bet you can’t wait.
Since the game has about as much plot as The Sims, it’ll have to rely almost entirely on its gameplay. Luckily this is much more substantial. The game uses the standard FPS control system and the combat is challenging, but it’s the squad controls that make the game more interesting. They’re quite simplistic, but well implemented, meaning you can order your squad around quite quickly without getting distracted by finding the right keys to press. For most tasks, a single key will issue the orders. Point towards a low wall, a crate or a piece of debris, press the key, and you’ll order a squad member to take cover there and set up a sniper position, an anti-armour position or to start throwing grenades. You don’t choose which type of position is set up, since different items of cover make different positions, as illustrated by the icon that appears when pointing at it. It means you can walk into a room and within seconds have your men set up in the best positions to deal with the situation. It’s also the reason why it doesn’t matter whether you know who’s who in your squad. You don’t order them around individually, someone will go directly to the cover when you point at it. Other tasks can be performed with the same button. Point at a console and someone will hack it. Point at a door, and your squad will set up a door breach manoeuvre.
Another nice feature of the squad is that if a squad member is killed, you can revive them. This obviously takes a few seconds, so is best left till after combat. But the really nice thing is that if you get killed, the other members of the squad can come and heal you. Only if your entire squad is wiped out are you completely unable to continue. It means you don’t have to instantly reload a saved game as soon as your health hits zero, and reduces the frustration level slightly. Health is gathered by fairly regular terminals fitted on walls, in true Half-Life style, so you can usually be fully healed up before entering a new area.
One element of the squad that can be annoying is that they all seem to be complete idiots who don’t realise that it’s a bad idea to run straight in front of you while you’re firing a machine gun at an enemy. And they don’t learn even after they’ve done it for the 100th time in an hour. The AI isn’t too bad otherwise, but that irritation keeps turning up in team based games again and again. Another problem with the game is that occasionally, you can find sections of the game that are quite repetitive, such as one section involving blowing up the entrance to one cargo bay after another while holding off the enemies.
Graphically the game is very good, up to the standards of the time, but not really standing out. The game is also short, with only the three main missions. But with the easy to use squad system and challenging combat, the game manages to stay fun most of the time, and is one of the better shooters of its time. It’s also refreshing to play a non-Jedi Star Wars game. So it might not be the best game around, but it’s worthwhile for a quick action game to fill in between something more substantial.
Save System Review: Save anywhere, quick save.
Arbitrary Final Score:
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