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DFG: Star Wars Republic Commando

July 1, 2010, Author: Trent Pyro

My hopes are rekindled. After the disappointment of Atari: Anthology and the horrifically abysmal monster that was Conker: Live and Reloaded, I was really starting to think this was a lost cause. Never mind though, for now I have that which has brought so many developers so much grief and very few a lot of success; a Star Wars game. Focusing on the Clone Wars period of the almost sacred timeline, Star Wars Republic Commando brings a new FPS to the crop of games already bearing the Star Wars brand. Does it do the lore justice or just skin it and wear it like a coat? We’ll see…

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Sorry for the obligatory title, but it’s quite neat. This game came out a long time ago and sometimes it feels like old games come from another galaxy. Or something. Anyway, Star Wars Republic Commando follows a squad of elite Clone Trooper commandos, specially bred for extreme conditions and a wide range of combat situations. What this means for you is, they’re hard as nails and won’t mess about in a firefight. Taking you through various locations including Wookie-homeworld Kashyyyk, a derelict space ship and Separatist hideout Geonosis, the story is actually quite good. Narrated by the babble between the titular commandos, it tracks their part in the Clone Wars and at time it genuinely feels like you’re a small cog in a giant war machine. The characters themselves are padded enough, although they never really get the chance to show their true personalities. This is understandable; they’re clones and the only personalities they would develop would be the ones created from their individual experiences. Then again, what little personality they do have does little to shake the feeling that you’re commanding a few faceless, thinly-written goons.

The gameplay is almost blatantly an attempt to capitalise on the success of Halo, coming out just a year after the phenomenally popular Halo 2. The controls bear about as much resemblance as they possibly can without tempting a lawsuit from Bungie and the game plays like Star Wars: Halo Edition. This is not such a bad thing and is actually quite fun. The controls were, I suppose, the standard for shooters back then and would’ve been easy to pick up for any Halo fan. The range of enemies is good and the locations change quickly so you’re never plugging the same enemies in the same place for too long. There are also a few neat features that prevent Republic Commando from becoming just another shooter.

"Don't shoot me you muppet, shoot the knife-wielding swamp thing!"

The first are the weapons, or should I say “is the weapon”. You carry a single blaster rifle, and instead of picking up additional weapons you remove and attach the parts of the rifle to make a new one. Aside from the basic automatic blaster, you can make a sniper rifle, a shotgun and some sort of explosive launcher. Not exactly interesting but original nonetheless. There are a few weapon pickups in the form of secondary arms for use when your blaster runs out of juice. These are pretty standard energy beams and launchers and never really feel useful.

The second feature is the most useful; the orders system. Coming in like the bastard child of systems used in Rainbow Six and Freedom Fighters, context sensitive is the order of the day. Little, holographic symbols litter surfaces throughout the game. Aiming at one of these and pressing B will order one of your commandos to do something. This something can be taking up a sniping position, planting a bomb, getting some health… the list goes on. Pretty much everything is context sensitive and if you get close enough to the symbol you’ll do it yourself. The system works well enough and allows enough scope for some nice tactical combat. Shame that it all gets old very quickly.

The Clone Bores
The problem is, while it’s all very exciting when it’s new, the limited range of Republic Commando rears its ugly head all too soon. After playing with all the weapons and using the same clutch of orders for the millionth time (about 3 hours in for me) there’s really nothing to keep you interested. The levels are varied enough but are linear, corridor-based affairs with no real scope for route planning. I felt constantly funneled down passages packed with enemies with no choice but to just plug away at them mindlessly. While I said the story was good, that was really only in comparison to the drab shit a lot of games call a plot these days; when compared to something in the same stable such as Black or, I hate to say it, Halo, it fails to excite. One last thing; throwing in enemies who jump around seemingly at random and avoid almost every shot you fire at them is a cheap and nasty way of spiking the difficulty. I wasted countless blaster rounds on thin air as the Geonosian elite leapt from wall to wall quicker than my crosshair could.

Peripheral vision? Pah, clones have no use for such a clever human ability!

Star Wars Republic Commando is not a bad game. The story is enjoyable but flat, the combat samey but playable. It’s in that awkward midrange; I wouldn’t recommend it but if you bought it I wouldn’t say you made a mistake. This is more like that fools gold stuff you buy at the gift shop in museums and science centres. It looks nice and seems real enough, but look closer and really it’s just a big faker.

Neil’s Deals Best Price: 1.99 Used from GAME

Never mind eh. We’re getting closer though and next time I’ll be sneaking up behind Thief: Deadly Shadows!