Star Wars: Republic Commando Xbox
Developed by LucasArts
Release Date: Out Now
There was once a time when every Star Wars game that was released was considered a classic. Games such as X-Wing and Tie Fighter were two of the best DOS games of all time. In recent years we've had to suffer such titles as The Phantom Menace and Force Commander which didn't impress anyone. If the recent Star Wars games are anything to go by though the golden days are definitely beginning to return. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and its recently released sequel are two of the best Star Wars games ever created and now we have Star Wars: Republic Commando which promises to be another great Star Wars experience.
Star Wars: Republic Commando places you as the leader of an elite squad of Republic Commandos. The game is set during the Clone Wars period (right between Episodes II and III) and you'll even see vehicles and locations that will appear in Episode III. Of course in Republic Commando what you're seeing is a different view of the Star Wars universe because it's not through the eyes of a Jedi; instead it's from the view of soldier. There's no force to assist you here but in some ways that makes a refreshing change and it certainly allows for a free flowing FPS game which is certainly what Republic Commando is. The choice of weapons, the range and AI of your enemies and the interaction with the other members of your squad all serve to make this a very enjoyable game.
I suppose that it's easy to expect this game to be a kind of Rainbow Six type Star Wars game. The fact that you are in control of a squad tends to give that impression. In actual fact though the game bears little resemblance to the Rainbow Six games which is some ways is a good thing. If the game had required you to strategically plan your attacks it would have completely ruined the pace of the game. The game plays similar to Halo if anything, although it's not quite the same experience. The HUD reminds me a lot of the Metroid Prime games on the GameCube but again this is only an aesthetic similarity and the game plays very different to Metroid Prime. Of course you do have to command your comrades (Fixer, Scorch and Sev) but thankfully the method of doing this is a simple one.
Essentially there are a variety of orders you can give to your squad and these orders are all issued with the A button. You can order them to collectively attack a unit by placing your crosshair over an enemy and pressing the A button. By holding the A button and pressing left on the directional pad you can issue a search and destroy order. Pressing up on the directional pad along with the A button will order your squad to secure the area. Right on the directional pad along with the A button orders the squad to form-up, whilst down on the directional pad and the A button will cancel a manoeuvre. There are other orders though which enable you to place squad members in advantageous shooting/sniping positions. When you come across such positions a blue hologram of a commando will appear and if you place your crosshair over one of these positions and press the A button a squad member will take up the position. Orders to slice computers and plant explosives are all issued in a similar manner. Placing your crosshair over a bacta dispenser (which allows you to top-up you health) and pressing the A button will send a squad member to the dispenser to regain health. This method of issuing orders may seem simplistic but it works really well and is immediately accessible and intuitive. You can also revive fallen squad members and they too can return the favour. If you fall and there are no squad members standing though it's game over.
From start to finish Republic Commando is an enjoyable game to play. What most gamers will be disappointed with though is that from start to finish, at the absolute most, is 11 hours which is fairly short. The multiplayer modes are simply OK and don't really offer anything you haven't seen before. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Assault and Capture the Flag make up the game modes. Four player split-screen, System Link and of course Xbox Live are supported. Sadly co-op play is not supported. Playing on one console and over Xbox Live would have been great in co-op mode and I reckon it would have been very popular too so it's a disappointment that it wasn't included.
Whilst the Knights of the Old Republic games weren't exactly the best looking games on the Xbox, Republic Commando looks much better and has many impressive graphical effects throughout the game. Everything from the environments (such as Geonosis and the Wookie homeland Kashyyyk) to the splattered Geonosians' ooze that hits your visor when you kill one at close quarters looks very impressive. You'll also get an impressive blurring effect when an enemy takes you out and you're waiting to be revived. For the most part the frame rate is smooth throughout the game. It can dip on the odd occasion, especially when you come under siege from hoards of enemies but this is only for a very short time and there's nothing that spoils the pace of the hectic action the game offers.
It's unusual for deaf gamers to be well catered for in a FPS game. Last year we had the exceptional Half-Life 2 with its amazing support for deaf gamers but on the whole, it's a poor genre for providing subtitles and captions. It's all the more pleasing then to see what a good job Republic Commando has done in being deaf gamer friendly. By default subtitles are enabled so you can jump straight into the game without having to pop into the options. All mission objectives and orders are displayed in text too. What I really like though is that most of the comments from your squad members are shown in text. This allows you to capture more of the games' atmosphere and get a feel for your comrades' personality. The only downside here though is that the comments are not colour coded which means during hectic action it's not easy to see who's saying what at a glance. As you play through the game various bonus movies will unlock and these aren't subtitled which is a shame but this is hardly anything to be disappointed about.
Star Wars Republic Commando is a must for FPS fans and fans of the Star Wars universe. The action is relentless and the AI of your squad members and your enemies is great. The negatives are that it's not long enough and that the multiplayer options are nothing unique. Had there been a co-op mode this would have made the multiplayer mode much more appetizing. Although the single player game is short I can see gamers wanting to play through again and again because the action is so constant and engaging. It's beginning to seem that the Star Wars name is once again a sign of quality when it comes to games.
Overall Game Rating: 8.8/10
Star Wars Republic Commando is an action filled FPS that offers non-stop thrills. The single player game is a little short though and the multiplayer options are nothing different.
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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It's great to see a FPS with such extensive subtitling. However it would have been better if the text for each squad member had been colour coded.