SummaryNo Jedi Powers or X-Wings here, just good old fashion alien fraggin'.
The GoodWhen I first heard about Republic Commando, I was stoked. I thought the idea was brilliant. Personally, I’m tired of wielding a lightsaber and force powers or piloting X-Wings and Snow Speeders. I thought that the idea of Republic Commando was original and ambitious. And after the fact, it seems to be just that.
Republic Commando provides the opportunity to flesh out the Star Wars Universe beyond the Jedi, Darth Vader and the Dark Side. It does so by putting the gamer in charge of a Navy Seal-esque team of Clone Troopers from Episode II called "Delta Squad". As the team leader or “Boss” of Delta Squad, you’ll infiltrate enemy lines, battle hordes of droids and aliens and tip the struggle of the Clone Wars in your favor, all in the name of the Republic.
Republic Commando is in FPS form, but with 3 members of Delta Squad available to carry out your commands and watch your back. Equipped with classic Thermal Detonators and a new DC-17m Modifiable Blaster Rifle which transforms into a grenade launcher and a sniper rifle, your team is equipped to handle everything the Separatists can throw at you.
From the get-go, the action is well paced. The first mission has you descending from a RTT Ship right into a battle with the Separatists. The atmosphere of the Star Wars style combat is well done and emerges the player into the best Star Wars FPS since Dark Forces II. All the trade mark sound effects of Star Wars are present from blaster and Wookie sounds to Jango Fett's exotic accent.
The ultimate goal in each mission, as in most FPS's, is to exterminate everything in your path. But Republic Commando spices up the formula a bit with the inclusion of your teammates and various game-play elements such as hacking computer terminals, setting demo charges and manning turrets. The constant chatter between your A.I. teammates is cool, making them seem less robot-like. Overall, they're mildly effective during combat, but are useful to assign to sniping spots and to set charges, so that you don't feel the need to do everything.
Hacking and placing charges varied the game-play at just the right times. It was cool assigning my squad to a task while I watched their back until they finished. The tasks themselves could've used a little improvement. I thought it took too long to place a charge on enemy droid pods. I would think that a device that's primary function is to explode wouldn’t be too complicated to set. I can understand the time it takes to splice a door or hack a terminal, but the detonators could've been quicker. But the implementation of the game-play is welcomed, none-the-less.
Games with an intensive story usually choose to explain it through cut-scenes, which, most of the time, are a drag to watch and begged to be skipped. Republic Commando has a cool storyline and doesn't bother to waste your time with vast amounts of cut-scenes during missions. Any information you need or anything important to the story is told in-game through the com-link amidst the action, which is refreshing and doesn't force you to drop the controller until it's over.
The BadOne of the biggest things that could've been improved upon lies with your teammates. Even though they all have a different role or class (i.e., sniper, demo expert, hacker), neither of them excel at one particular skill. When you assign Sev to hack a door, it takes the same amount of time if Fixer were doing it. So why even have these commandoes in different roles? They could've easily implemented a skill point system that allowed you to increase your teammate’s skills in different areas as the game progressed. Or simply have a difference in the abilities of commandoes; have the sniper your best, tactical shot, your demo expert take no time to set charges and your hacker splice doors with ease.
Another problem with your teammates is the command system. This seems to be a problem with most games featuring team commands to A.I. controlled allies. Using the D-Pad, you can assign the team orders; "Search & Destroy" and "Form-Up" are the only two of any use, though they differ very little. I don't understand why they bothered to implement a game-play element that turns out to be of such little use. And very few games seem to execute this feature well. And a game such as Republic Commandoes would’ve thrived on an effective team command system. A room-sweep feature would've served well along with various tactical commands.
There are several features of the game that aren't useful. The Jump feature is useless. Other than cresting very small objects, there isn't a tactical advantage to jumping like in other FPS's. It's more or less a waste of a button and was probably implemented to appease people who get pissed off at not being able to jump in an FPS. Also, the gun-barrel zoom-in is more of a hindrance than anything. With the way enemies constantly dance around, the zoom is too close to consistently hit them. I assume it was put in to take advantage of the weak-points that each enemy supposedly has, but in the end, it's far easier to blast away until they keel over. It does come as a disappointment since it would've made for a much better tactical shooter than just a frag-fest. The melee attack is also used to minimal effect. It's a very cool feature with the look of the wrist blade and the gore-splatter from the attack, but getting that close to an enemy is neither often or beneficial.
Republic Commando suffers from very short game length. Just when I got into it, it was over. I don't know if there are plans for a sequel, but the opportunity for expanding the roles of Delta Squad and the Republic Commando forces are there. There's a large time span between the time of the Republic and The Empire and I would love to see more of the Squad and their Ops.
I would've also liked some cameos from famous Star Wars characters. I know I said it was nice to stray from the use of Jedi and what not, but it doesn't hurt to use the franchise characters for maximum effect. It was cool to have a giant Wookie fight with you for a few rooms, but some lesser known Jedi would've worked too (Kit Fisto anyone?).
The Bottom LineA refreshing look into the vast world of Star Wars without the inclusion of Jedi or the Dark Side. The best Star Wars FPS since Dark Forces II with varying game-play elements that break the monotony of blasting Separatists and droids. A cool new branch of the Star Wars franchise that will hopefully be expanded upon. And really, who doesn't want to play as an über Clone/Storm Trooper behind enemy lines?