- Developer: Aspyr
- Publisher: Aspyr
- Release date: 6/4/2021
- Price: £13.49/$14.99
- Review code provided by Aspyr
Introducing: Star Wars Republic Commando Review
The original console release of STAR WARS Republic Commando graced the original Xbox, all the way back in 2005. Coincidentally, this was the first console I ever bought with my own money, spending most of my first pay packet on an Xbox and Halo: Combat Evolved. With my newfound disposable income I went wild, picking up most of the big games on the console, but for some reason STAR WARS Republic Commando passed me by. 16 years later, I was pretty excited to take a look at the one that got away!
Republic Commando takes place during the Clone Wars, which for those who are unfamiliar follows on from the events of the Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, a real low point in the series. Despite the pretty woeful source material, the game manages to offer up an interesting perspective on that period of the saga and still manages to offer a lot of fun despite its age.
Bacta The Future
Republic Commando follows the exploits of Delta Squad during the Clone Wars. You play as Delta-38 leading your 4 man squad on three different missions during the course of the War, alongside your teammates Scorch, Fixer and Sev.
The story begins with a mission, Geonosis, where Delta Squad are tasked with assassinating a Separatist leader named Sun Fac. The mission evolves following the assassination and you are tasked with taking out a droid factory and anti-aircraft bunker which is causing problems for the Republic.
After that you move onward to a mission later in the war aboard a seemingly abandoned ship floating in space, where all is not quite as it seems.
The final tour takes you to Kashyyyk, homeland of the Wookies, where you are tasked with assisting a Wookie Warlord and turning the tide against the Separatist Forces.
Three missions might not sound a lot, but each one takes several hours and evolves as they progress, acting more like a broad campaign. They offer some interesting and varied environments and help pad out the overall Star Wars universe, while offering a unique perspective given the lack of involvement from any of the man characters in the series.
These ARE The droids You’re Looking For!
Despite being a 16 year old game, Republic Commando holds up very nicely. The squad mechanics in particular outshine much more modern squad based shooters. As you work through the game you can issue contextual commands to squad members to provide sniper cover, carry out offensive attacks with grenades or rockets and can set them up to breach and clear rooms, or take a more stealthy approach by hacking into systems to enter silently.
Objects where squad actions can be carried out are highlighted by a holographic image of your squad carrying out the relevant action and activated with a simple press of the A button.
It can be extremely satisfying getting into a big skirmish and dishing out orders to set up a sniper position as well as an anti-armor position and turret cover. Everything works so seamlessly and smoothly that you quickly feel like the bad-ass the game intends you to be.
Outwith the contextual actions you have a number of commands which can be activated with the D-pad, allowing you to set the team to hunt down enemies to clear a room, to join you in formation or to hold a particular point.
The enemy AI is smart enough to make good use of cover as necessary, and does a good job of prioritising enemies and picking up downed teammates when the time is right. Should you get downed (which you inevitably will), you can order your teammates to continue with their objectives or order them to pick you up. This is especially useful when they are all in good cover positions against a horde of enemies. It allows you to assess when the right time to come revive you would be and prevents some of the braindead AI seen in other games, where as soon as you go down you might as well reload the last checkpoint.
Shooty Shooty Bang Bang
The shooting mechanics in the game are satisfying, with you having access to a traditional automatic blaster which can be modified to allow for sniper and anti-armor functions. You can also pick up a number of enemy weapons throughout the course of the game, including sub-machine guns, rocket launchers, chain-guns and a particularly satisfying shotgun. These tend to be projectile based rather than the usual blaster weapons, which helps get around the fact that bullets are a hell of a lot more satisfying to fire than lasers!
You also have access to a range of thrown weapons, including thermal detonators, flashbangs and even grenades which discharge a large pulse of electricity, something which is particularly useful against the droids you come up against.
Enemies are split between a range of Geonosians, an insect-like race, different droids, and the pig-like Trandoshans.
The Geonosians tend to skitter and fly around, making them hard to hit, whilst the droids provide a tough target with their shields, and require careful aiming to hit weak points. A particular favourite was the Droidekas, which roll into battle with some nostalgia-inducing sound effects to complement them. The Trandoshans favour a rushdown approach, using shotguns and machetes, requiring you to adopt your tactics based on the enemies you face.
The combat is great fun and works nicely in conjunction with the squad mechanics. The shooting can feel a little clunky and dated at times, but overall everything comes together nicely.
As you would expect, the game has its sound and visuals spot on. It doesn’t rely too heavily on the classic soundtrack, but more muted versions of some of the series’ themes play at moments of tension, adding a air of authenticity to the proceedings. The core of the game definitely focuses on the minutia of the Star Wars universe, with your team being a small spec ops unit at the tip of the spear. This can lead to things feeling a bit less impactful than the constant bombast of the film series, but it helps give the game a feeling all of its own, not unlike the tone projected by Rogue One.
The graphics in the game are of an era, but the simple designs of the droids and some of the areas help avoid things feeling too dated. Those of a certain age, like myself, will no doubt feel a nice bit of warm, fuzzy nostalgia upon seeing the graphical style of that era once again, with the added benefit of a bit of HD polish.
The Dark Side
Performance in Republic Commando can be a bit of a mixed bag. In docked the game holds up fairly well, with performance varying, but staying fairly smooth overall. In handheld mode the frame rate takes a bit of a dip. In more intensive battle scenes things can get a bit ropey, making aiming more difficult. A lot of games recently seem to take the option of a dynamic resolution in order to maintain a smooth frame rate, DOOM Eternal being the most high-profile example. Republic Commando takes the opposite approach, with the game maintaining a nice image quality in handheld at the expense of a smooth gameplay experience.
The issue isn’d bad enough to make the game unplayable, but it did make the handheld experience a little less appealing.
STAR WARS Republic Commando offers a fun take on the squad shooter genre and manages to remain fresh after all these years. Despite the performance niggles in handheld, I still had a great time playing through the game’s three campaigns. The squad mechanics are slickly done and add a lot of fun whilst remaining very simple and easy to manage.
The game launches as a single player experience only, with the multiplayer mode from the original release missing at launch. There doesn’t seem to be any information around plans to add this, but given the fact we saw a multiplayer mode added to Turok 2 on the Switch almost 2 years after release, you could argue that anything is possible in this day and age.
On top of the campaign mode you unlock a range of extras including some behind the scenes documentary footage relating to the development of the game, as well as a music video by the band Ash, which was apparently recorded for the game. Rather annoyingly, I found that despit completing the game, some of these didn’t unlock, despite the game listing the criteria to unlock them as simply completing certain missions.
- Fun squad mechanics
- Blowing droids apart is satisfying
- A unique Star Wars spin off
- Handheld performance is ropey
- Some mission sections repetitive