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SummaryFrantic FPS, sadly without much Star Wars atmosphere
The GoodIf you need your games to run on steroids, Star Wars: Republic Commando (SWRC) will most probably appeal to you.
After a short intro sequence, you're plunged straight into the action, and before the game ends, you'll be taking your finger off the fire-button only on extremely rare occasions, most of which will be either when you're pressing the USE key to hack into a console or plant a charge or some such or when you're in the process of loading a savegame. Other than that, there's almost a constant supply of enemies, similar to the way it was in the old school FPS'es like the original Doom or in the more recent Serious Sam titles.
As a Star Wars (SW) fan, you'll meet some familiar faces, but you really shouldn't expect too much from those encounters, as I'll elaborate in the section below. The simplified squad control actually works, despite the game's frantic pace, and sometimes the comments of your mates actually border the funny. The fact that they lack any real personality whatsoever is probably minor, since ... well, since they're anonymous members of a clone army, anyways.
The BadUnfortunately, this game is heavily lacking in the atmosphere department. Like the clone troopers whose exploits it portraits, it lacks any distinctiveness whatsoever. There are some things which have been in every single Star Wars game I have ever played, and over the years that's quite an amount.
Thing's that sometimes have no real impact in gameplay terms, but that have been a traditional part of SW-games nonetheless.
For example, somewhere in the intro, you'd have a story synopsis scrolling by in the classical SW-way, like in the beginning of the movies. Not in SWRC.
An the soundtrack. Many of the games featured the usual suspects when it comes to SW-themed songs, such as the main theme or the cantina song, but some introduced more or less original music, all of which fit into what you'd expect from such music. Not so in SWRC.
In the average SW game, folks from the movies (or the universe, to use a bit more general term) have been utilized to great effect as a vessel to make you feel "at home" in the world of SW. SWRC utterly fails in this department.
Sure, you and your team are clonetroopers. Sure, your adversaries are battle droids and Geonosians. Sure, you encounter others, like Wookies, for example, along the way. Sure, you're employing a arsenal of weapons from the SW franchise, but - unlike, for example, in the Jedi Knight series - none of those actually "feel" like SW weapons - and this includes the blaster rifle thingy. None of these things actually impact gameplay. Heck, in the event of your team sabotaging a ship, you don't even blow up it's reactor core. Is this Star Wars? :D
Seriously, never would it have been so easy for a game to be turned into a game with no resemblance at all to a SW title. Exchange the models of everybody, switch the sound of the laser blasters, modify in-game briefings a little bit, nobody would notice this used to be a SW game. Crying shame, as far as I'm concerned. To be fair, a part (albeit a small one) of the reason for this lack of impact is the frantic pace of the game. It's like driving down the freeway at more than a hundred miles per hour - you're not very likely to really get a glimpse of many details along the road. But since a good story has almost been guaranteed if a title had the words "Star Wars" on the box in the past, I think it's even more of a letdown when the game miserably fails to deliver in this department.
The Bottom LineAt times, I thought the fact that I failed to get a grasp of the game's atmosphere was related to the fact that the game takes place in the "new" movies, i.e. in the prequel trilogy, as opposed to the original trilogy from the late seventies, which I happen to like a lot better. But then I remembered the fairly recent Battlegrounds. Flawed as that game might be in it's own right, I think it did a very good job on capturing the feel of the armed forces participating in the battles between droids and the clone army. Down to the armament used by the infantry.
Sadly, SWRC fails to accomplish the same. Everything has a generic feel to it, and for a Star Wars title, this is just very disappointing. Never before have I played a SW game about which I can honestly say that, if you just ignore all parts of story that the game presents you, you're not missing out ANYTHING.
Still, when all is said and done, SWRC ain't no bad game. It's a solid title, IF you don't expect it to deliver a dose of Star Wars feeling to you. It's fun for most of the pretty short time it lasts, you'll have no time breaking your head about stuff like a storyline, anyway. Still, I'd recommend everybody with an itch to play SWRC to wait until it hits the bargain bin.