Wars Rogue Leader
The most popular title by far at the UK release of the GameCube was Rogue Leader. A lot of excitement was generated when the game came out in the US last year and rightly so too. The game was found to contain such a high quality of graphics that in parts of the game, they actually exceed those that were in the Star Wars films. To make the game even more interesting it's battles are taken from or inspired by the original Star Wars trilogy rather than the rather flat Episode I & II films. For hearing gamers this is without doubt one of the best Star Wars games of all time but what's it like for deaf gamers? Well it's time to take a look.
From the moment you enter the first mission you will be hugely impressed with the graphics. What you won't be impressed with though is the complete lack of subtitles. The mission description is given by voice only and once you've selected the mission you want to play you'll find that the craft description is also completely given in text. All is not lost though because once you are inside a mission you can press the start button to pause the game and obtain a very brief description of your objectives. The whole graphical splendour of the game might be virtually identical to the Star Wars films but what the deaf gamer will lose out on is the filmic quality of the game, that the conversations that take part during the course of some missions convey. For instance the first mission sees you, as Luke Skywalker, take part in the attack on the Death Star. When you are in the trench run, that ultimately sees you fire a proton torpedo to blow up the Death Star, you hear Darth Vader remark that 'the force is strong with this one' and Ben Kenobi remark 'use the force Luke'. This are spine tingling inclusions for any Star Wars fans but, alas, for the deaf gamer it is all lost as there are no subtitles.
For the most part the lack of subtitles isn't disastrous and you'll be able to play your way through the game. When you issue your wingmen orders, by way of your directional pad, you will be unaware of their responses though. The one mission that could prove too awkward for a deaf gamer is Imperial Academy Heist mission. In this mission you begin controlling a Y-Wing craft and you have to pass some imperial lookout stations. Verbally you are told to keep the craft low to the ground and receive warnings when you fly too high. Of course there is nothing to tell the deaf gamer this and you will receive the mission failed message before you can blink. There is also a tutorial mission called Tatooine Training Grounds but again this is useless to the deaf gamer because of the lack of subtitles.
The game contains 11 missions plus five bonus missions that can be unlocked with points. You earn points from receiving medals in the 11 missions. A bronze medal will earn you 3 points whilst a difficult to achieve gold medal will earn you 10 points. A host of craft upgrades can also be located during the missions. Some missions, such as the aforementioned Imperial Academy Heist can actually differ depending on what time of the day you play it. Play in the daytime and you'll be controlling the Y-Wing whilst playing it at night will result in you beginning the mission in a Snowspeeder and having a slightly easier time of it later in the mission.
As we have mentioned already, on a couple of occasions, the graphics truly are spectacular and miraculously enough the frame rate, for the most part, remains constant. The Death Star Attack mission and the Battle of Hoth, in which you fly a snowspeeder against the menacing AT-ATs and AT-STs, is truly a sight to behold and I guarantee you'll be coming back to these two more than any other. The craft available are X-Wing, Y-Wing, A-Wing, B-Wing and Snowspeeder. You can also unlock the Millennium Falcon and the Jedi Starfighter as well as Boba Fett's ship.
The gamepad has been used extremely well and feels comfortable even after several hours play. The analogue stick controls the movements. The left and right triggers control the brake and thrust respectively. The Y button brings up the targeting computer. The X button changes the camera. The A button is the primary fire button whilst the B button is assigned to the secondary fire function. The Z button in combination with the analogue stick causes your craft to roll. Finally the C stick allows you to look around when in the cockpit view. Some reviews of Rogue Leader have complained that you have to keep the Y button pressed down in order to use the targeting computer. This is true and may seem awkward but it must be noted that constant use of the targeting computer will ruin your chance of earning a medal.
Rogue Leader really has to be seen to be believed. Everything that has been mentioned about this game is true. It really is an immersive Star Wars experience. Deaf gamers do get a raw deal with the game though and the lack of subtitles just make it plain awkward. If you are a Star Wars fan though I would still recommend what is an unmissable gaming experience.
Overall Game Rating: 7.5/10 Rogue Leader is an outstanding experience. The score is 7.5 because of the exciting, Star Wars, feeling the game gives. Just take heed of what has been said about the difficulties with the game as a result of the lack of subtitles.
Deaf Gamers comment: Problematic in places because of the lack of subtitles. Mission briefings are all too brief and you lose a chunk of the atmosphere because famous lines from the film will go unnoticed as a result of the lack of subtitles.