Star Wars: Republic Commando Preview
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Star Wars: Republic Commando
LucasArts Entertainment Company
Feb. 2005
Xbox Live:
Rating Pending

There has been a large number of Star Wars games released on almost every console to date, including the Xbox. 2003's critically acclaimed Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic proved to us that there was still much more to be explored in the Star Wars universe through playing the games besides watching the widely popular films. LucasArts is now taking the Star Wars universe into a different direction with a darker tone and a different genre in Star Wars: Republic Commando, a first person shooter set within the time period of the films Star Wars Episode II and Episode III.

Republic Commando puts you in control of a commando squad leader appropriately named “Boss”. Being the squad leader permits players to give orders to three other commandos: Fixer, Scorch, and Sev. All three of these characters have special abilities that make them crucial in order to progress through the game. Fixer is a technology expert who is familiarized in code breaking, Scorch is the squad demolitionist, and Sev is a stealthy commando who can perform a variety of deadly moves (like drop down an enemy from over head). Aside from the signature abilities your squad has they can also perform different maneuvers, all of which are marked by a hologram displaying the position in which a squad member carries out an order . In this preview version I issued the squad members to perform different kinds of maneuvers: Snipe, Anti-Armor, Door Breach, Hack, Demolition, and Health maneuvers. The snipe and anti-armor maneuvers allow your fellow squad mates to take cover behind walls and use their weapons against enemies from a distance, the health maneuver allows your squad mates to access a nearby health panel that nurses them to full health, the door breach maneuver allows players to command Scorch to blow open a door, the hack maneuver allows Fixer to hack into a device to activate or deactivate something, and the demolition maneuver allows Scorch to set a mine near or on a specific object (in this preview version he set a mine on an enemy dispenser and man did it look awesome to watch it blow up into a pile of metal scraps) allowing you to detonate the mine. If a situation occurs when you need some serious back up you can cancel these maneuvers and get the extra firepower you want from your fellow commandos. Not only am I extremely impressed so far with what the developers have allowed players to do with their squad mates but I am also impressed with the squad artificial intelligence. Your commandos know when they need to take cover, shoot, or move forward in every situation. I never needed to babysit my squad even when tension filled firefights broke out. Its great to know that they can hold their own even if I’m dead, too. If by any chance you die in Republic Commando and your squad is nearby you have two options to select from in viewing a blurry red screen: Maintain Given Orders or Recall and Revive. Selecting Maintain Given Orders allows your fellow commandos to continue fighting the opposing forces so they can survive. Recall and Revive calls out a fellow squad member to come and revive you to half your health (your reviver is also vulnerable to getting shot down as well). It should also be mentioned that you can revive your commandos if they become incapacitated. If your entire squad is incapacitated and you’re down, you’re out of luck and the game ends since no one can revive you.

The enemy A.I. is no laughing stock, either. You’re enemies really want you dead and they’ll make the best effort into making sure that you die. The enemies have the sense to take cover and shoot when they need to, making them harder to kill than your average enemies. In every encounter with an enemy in this preview version I found that certain enemies have different strategies in order to take them out. For instance, a group of battle droids (enemies) can be taken out with a grenade while energy shielded battle droids must first have their shields taken down in order to be vulnerable to get shot. Finding an enemy’s weakness is satisfying even at this point in the game and I can’t wait to discover more ways to take out enemies for the completed version promises to have a variety of different enemies.

What’s a first person shooter without an arsenal of cool weapons? Don’t fear because Republic Commando has a number of cool weapons from the Star Wars universe judging from this preview version. You and your commandos are equipped with a DC-17 stock mount that has three different attachments: The blaster, anti-armor, and sniper attachments. The blaster attachment turns the DC-17 stock mount into a fully automatic plasma rifle, the anti-armor attachments turns the DC-17 into a grenade launcher, and the sniper attachment turns the DC-17 into a single shot sniper rifle (a scope is equipped as well). Aside from the awesome three in one weapon I was able to access an alien weapon known as the Geonosian Elite Beam Weapon. It looks awesome when fired for it blasts straight through an enemy. Even though its inaccurate it sure packs quite a punch. I can’t wait to see what other weapons the developers will allow players to use in the final version of Republic Commando.

The presentation even in this sampling of Republic Commando is top notch. The audio is amazing with a strong orchestral score, great voice acting, and awesome sound effects. The visuals look awesome (courtesy of the Unreal engine) with detailed characters and animations (your squad will limp realistically if they’re seriously injured). Hopefully the quality of the visuals and sound is maintained at this current level throughout the game.

In the midst of the many big first person shooters being released on Xbox this year (Half-Life 2, Pariah, Project: Snowblind, just to name a few) Star Wars: Republic Commando so far has what it takes to stand up to all of them. Its turning up to be a promising shooter that’s readily accessible along with a bold new direction set within a widely popular universe. We’re definitely keeping our eye on this one and so should every gamer out there.

Monday, January 24, 2005 

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