Good Old Reviews
Star Wars: Republic Commando - Band of Clone Brothers

Marshall Lemon | 20 Feb 2016 08:15
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And then there's the Wookies. My God, the Wookies. Gone are the lanky, lovable Chewbacca-archetypes Star Wars fans grew up with. Republic Commando's snarling Wookies tower over the player, filling the screen with broad shoulders and thick muscles. Han warned that Wookies would tear an opponent's arms off when provoked, but Republic Commando was the first time I actually believed it. Thankfully, they're on your side - but can you imagine if the proposed Imperial Commando sequel had been made? You'd have to fight Wookies, and I'd legitimately need to clean my pants afterwards.

Of course, all the atmosphere in the world doesn't mean a thing without solid gameplay, and Republic Commando delivers there as well. The game boasts solid squad-based mechanics that are simplistic compared to Rainbow Six, but incredibly satisfying to apply in the field. You can order your squadmates to hack terminals, take sniper positions, breach doors, and more. Scorch, Fixer, and Sev each come with their own specialties - sniping, demolitions, and technical - but you can also give general commands that address formations or taking point on room clearing.

What's more, the game uses these systems effectively, mixing run-and-gun action with tactical thinking. Even the most intense enemy engagements can be overcome by changing formations, moving into cover, or finding ideal vantage points. If you fall in battle, squad members will continue their objectives unless you order them to revive you - and considering how heavy the fire is, you may not want to risk them. Combined with strong performances from the voice actors, you might even develop a bond with Delta Squad, and worry about them on the rare occasions they're out of sight.

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That's not to say everything's perfect in Star Wars: Republic Commando. The entire game consists of three large missions, forcing repetition in much of the level design. While the longer missions make your actions feel more significant, having smaller missions to break things up would've been a huge help. The squad-based systems themselves have no sense of progression - everything is unlocked when the game begins, with no leveling or ability improvements to show you're becoming a more capable trooper. Then you have an abrupt cliffhanger ending which sets the stage for Revenge of the Sith and a potential sequel, one we now know is basically our heroes betraying and murdering the Jedi.

Looking back on what Republic Commando achieved however, my biggest quibble is that there wasn't more of it. The Imperial Commando sequel LucasArts hoped to release never materialized, which could've been a fantastic addition to the following console generation, especially if it embraced the four-player co-op trend of Left 4 Dead. And we're unlikely to see anything like it for some time - the current crop of Star Wars games are focused on the original trilogy, which probably means replicating its tone without experimenting like Republic Commando did.

The latest Star Wars Battlefront proved fans want shooters in a galaxy far, far away, but its time seems to have come and gone in mere months. Maybe it's time to get back to Star Wars games that try something new. We could start by scaling shooters back to smaller operations - ones that make hardened troopers feel like valuable teammates instead of disposable infantry.

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