For the longest time, anyone who wanted to play a Star Wars video game would have a few options on what to play as: a Jedi Knight wielding a lightsaber and tossing around enemies with the Force, a starfighter pilot blowing up other pilots in a first-person shooter, or a battlefield commander moving armies across a digital landscape in a real-time strategy game.
It’s a first-person shooter done in a similar fashion to the Halo game series. Set during the Clone Wars (as shown by the prequel trilogy), you play RC-1138–nicknamed “Boss”–and lead a team of clone commandos known as Delta Squad on several covert missions, taking out Separatist strongholds and ensuring victory for the Republic in many a bleak scenario. As the game goes on and the war progresses, the team receives more arduous assignments, making use of their environment and their skills to overcome the seemingly endless waves of battle droids and mercenaries.
The most important gameplay element is being able to command a team of three other clones, each with their own personality. There’s Fixer, a by-the-book computer hacker; Sev, a cold-hearted sniper; and Scorch, a wisecracking demolitions expert. Each team member brings important skills that each mission will require at some point, and because of the streamlined command system, being able to direct all three squad mates in the middle of combat takes only a click of the mouse. Orders and mission advice come down from the disembodied voice of CC-01/425, or “Advisor,” much like the AI Cortana in the Halo games or Mei Ling from the Metal Gear franchise.
The game also feels different from other Star Wars action games. When playing in games like Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, it’s possible to avoid getting close to your enemies and defeat them from a distance. However, with Republic Commando, the action is all upfront, sometimes resulting in gore splattering across your character’s helmet and other hideous deaths. The game itself adapts to how you play it thanks to an advanced gaming engine, so that your squad mates limp more visibly when wounded and enemy units can dodge or even deflect your attacks. It’s quite a spectacle to see a Trandoshan mercenary suddenly kicking back the grenade you just tossed his way.
As far as the story of the game goes, it’s pretty repetitive with each mission: drop onto the surface of a planet, get your mission objectives, fight through hundreds of enemies and obstacles, rescue someone of importance, and go toe-to-toe with an elite enemy force before the end of the mission. I have to admit that the ending of the game subverts this pattern a little, considering the loss that Delta Squad takes, but beyond that one note of complaint, the rest of the game is just pure bloody warfare.
For a game that’s set in the Star Wars universe, I found it quite appealing after the first time I played it. You get to see the perspective of soldiers who don’t have the luxury of fighting from a distance or slamming their opponents with some mystical energy field. All they have is their armor, their weapons, and each other as they go up against the most vicious and relentless foes of the Republic. On that merit alone, it’s a refreshing take on the mythos established by George Lucas and other creative minds, a chance for the Everyman to shine.
Bibliography: Star Wars: Republic Commando. Developed by LucasArts. Published by LucasArts. Platforms: PC, Xbox. Released on March 1, 2005.