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Friday, November 4, 2011

Star Wars: Republic Commando Review

Written 07/06/2011
Note: This review is for the PC version of the game. Screenshot and video taken from my machine.
I really wanted to play Republic Commando when it was released back in 2005, but I couldn’t afford it and was rounding out my senior year of high school at the time. By the time I had enough money for it, the game completely slipped my mind. I only remembered it recently when I managed to snag it for $5 during a Steam sale. Not only had I finally gotten my hands on the game, but I also decided to make it my first Youtube playthrough game. Should I have forgotten about Republic Commando so long ago? No, but it was still great to save that much buying it!

Visuals and Presentation

Compared to today’s generation of ultra-realistic games, Republic Commando looks quite dated. To make such a comparison would be unfair though, so I won’t do it. Compared to other games of the time, Republic Commando’s visuals are quite solid. Models and textures are as detailed as they could be for the time, with most of the effort showing itself in the textures. Having done some rudimentary modding in the Jedi Knight games, I know that such a technique is the best way to achieve more realistic results with the limited power of the older game engines. Animations, while rather limited, are all much more fluid than many other games of the era. The environments and enemies are equally limited, but are still well designed. The limited variety also helps to keep the game focused, though there was still a little available room left to add more variety. By far the most limited in variety are the weapon models, but it actually serves an understandable purpose in the gameplay; which I will explain shortly. Overall though, Republic Commando’s visuals are solid with a lack of variety.
Visuals and Presentation Rating:4 Star

Considering that this is a Star Wars game, most of the sounds and music you’ll hear in Republic Commando are the same things you’ve been hearing for years. Honestly, I would have it no other way! The sounds and music of Star Wars are a large part of what makes the series so iconic, and it would simply not be the same without them. In addition to those classics, there is a very nice and original title song that also plays at key points in the campaign. The voice acting is also top notch, with the notable inclusion of Raphael Sbarge. For those of you who don’t recognize voice actors in games, he also voiced Carth Onasi from Knights of the Old Republic and Kaidan Alenko from Mass Effect. Everyone portrays their roles excellently, which is helped along nicely by the intelligent and coherent writing. Overall, the sound package of Republic Commando is excellent despite the reuse of most of the classic sounds and music you either love or hate by now.

Sound Rating:5 Star

As odd as this may sound, there are no Jedi whatsoever in Republic Commando save for a roughly 30 second appearance of Yoda. You are instead, big surprise, a Republic Commando in charge of three other Commandos. The game is a first-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on squad tactics. The shooting mechanics themselves are simple and basic, and are especially easy to pick up if you’ve ever played a Call of Duty game (and who hasn’t?). The gameplay’s real depth comes into play with its squad command system. While in most areas, you will be given the option to assign any of your fellow Commandos to a tactical location, allowing them to snipe, throw grenades, provide anti-armor fire, or man an unoccupied turret. Unfortunately, each location is pre-set to a certain action. So if a particular location is designated for sniping, the Commando will only snipe in that location. Fortunately, the developers were smart enough to place each tactical location in good spots.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the weapon selection in the game is very limited. The reason for this is that your primary weapon, the DC-17 blaster rifle, actually acts as three separate guns. You start off with the DC-17 only acting as an assault rifle. Soon though, you’ll find a sniper attachment that you can switch to while still using the same weapon. After that, you’ll come across a grenade launcher attachment as well. While still being the same gun, each attachment uses it own ammo type; which is convenient. Other than the DC-17, there are seven guns in the game, but you will likely rarely use them, as you’ll be nicely supplied with DC-17 ammo throughout most of the game.

The difficulty of the game is fairly relaxed most of the time. On occasion though, you are thrown into a situation so difficult that you will die at least ten times before you succeed. I personally don’t have a major problem with this, but it was definitely frustrating nonetheless. Multiplayer in Republic Commando shows the game’s age most clearly, and generally feels like simply a tacked on feature. The gametypes are cookie-cutter, and mostly revolve around Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. The map designs are nice, but they can’t distract from the overall blandness of the multiplayer gameplay. Honestly, Republic Commando’s multiplayer can’t hold a candle to its competition. This game shines in its campaign experience, and I believe that was the intention. Multiplayer in Republic Commando would be best left ignored.

Gameplay Rating:4 Star

At first, Republic Commando’s story seems as though it will make little to no sense. You begin the game as one of many elite clone squadrons sent to Geonosis to aid the Jedi in the events near the end of Star Wars: Episode 2. After you extract from the planet, you are sent to...well, I won’t ruin it for you. Suffice it to say that events begin to tie together very well as the game progresses, and ending with things leading directly into a battle depicted in Episode 3. Until the very end of the game though, there will still be questions as to why you are present in certain locations. Unfortunately, the game’s ending is also a pretty nasty cliffhanger; so be ready for it. Overall, the game’s still is a bit confusing at first, but ends up being worthwhile.

Story Rating:4.5 Star
Replay Value

Considering the weak nature of Republic Commando’s multiplay, all of the game’s real replay value is in its campaign. Fortunately, the campaign took me a respectable 10 hours 48 minutes to complete on the normal difficulty. Unfortunately, there is not much to do after that but replay the campaign on a harder difficulty. The game is certainly worth another playthrough if a Republic Commando 2 is ever announced, but until that happens, the game’s replay value is highly dependent on how much you enjoy it the first time through.

Replay Value Rating:3 Star
Final Thoughts and Overall Score

If you’re tired of playing a Jedi in Star Wars games, give Republic Commando a try. If you enjoy tactical military shooters, try Republic Commando. If you like Star Wars in general, try Republic Commando. If you hate Star Wars, what’s wrong with you? The game is available for PC and the original Xbox.

Star Wars: Republic Commando Overall Score:4 Star

System Requirements:

    • OS: Windows 2000, XP or Vista
    • Processor: Pentium III or Athlon 1.0 GHz or faster CPU
    • Memory: 256MB RAM
    • Graphics: 64MB 3D Graphics card with Vertex Shader and Pixel Shader (VS/PS) capability
    • DirectX®: 9.0b
    • Hard Drive: 2.0GB
    • Sound: 100% Directx 9.0c

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