March 18, 2012
If you remember Star Wars Republic Commando, you know that it’s not only one of the most amazing Star Wars FPS games but it was also the darkest.
There are two things that have occurred in the last couple of months to give us a reminder that Star Wars Republic Commando was one of the most influential Star Wars shooter games ever. First off, there is now Halo 5 Guardians and its brand new feature, squad commands, which owes quite a bit to Republic Commando’s gameplay. And this month , Star Wars Battlefront was released, which is the franchise’s first FPS since 2005. When Republic Commando was released it dished out one of the darkest storylines that has been told in Star Wars.
Republic Commando was put on shelves for fans to enjoy at an interesting time during LucasArts history. When The Force Unleased was put out in 2004 it became the beginning of the end for the company. The corporates restricting made the company to give large cuts in their staffing and budgets at LucasArts. The company had plenty of critical success in 2003 because of games like Jedi Knight II and Knights of the Old Republic, they then wanted to create a blockbuster game that would compete with the Halo series. This wasn’t an unreasonable goal to make, because it is Star Wars we are talking about, but a line of questionable decisions drug LucasArts further away from their goal.
One example is when they started cutting out third-party developers like Obsidian, Raven Software, BioWare, and Factor 5, ended up cutting of the publishers best franchises like the Jedi Knight series. Thankfully, The Knights of the Old Republic series lived on with Star Wars: The Old Republic.
There were two games that survived the cuts that were developed internally, the official Revenge of the Sith and Republic Commando, and Knights of the Old Republic II, which was already far into its development and was eventually released. Pandemic Studios’ Battlefront was also released during this time and it received tons of praise, but Knights of the Old Republic did not meet the fans expectations. The Revenge of the Sith did just as well as the film that it was based on. However, Republic Commando was overshadowed and took up the middle position. Out of the three games, we think that Republic Commando was the best first-person shooter. The game told an original story and it did so with any Jedi.
The story is of the Delta Squad, which is an elite group of Clone troopers that are completing some very dangerous missions during the Clone Wars. The player is Delta-38, which is the leader of the squad, and it follows him from his early education and training on Kamino to his deployment on Geonosis, which is the planet where the Clone Wars all began. In the early part of the game you see the assembly-line style of the Clone troopers, who are made to be killing soldiers for the Galactic Republic, and they are expendable to the commanders that they follow into battle.
The whole setting to the game is much darker with a liberal approach to blood and gore, violence, and exploding Geonosians. This game definitely delivers on goo and guts. It’s true that the game is lacking on the emotional side when compared to some of its predecessors, but the reason is because it’s aiming to hit a different nerve in the audience.
While Knights of the Old Republic gave fans the destruction of Taris and the fall of Revan, a military hero who turned bad, the game can ultimately bring peace to the galaxy. The soldiers of Republic Commando are powerless when it comes to changing the galaxy around them. Once you have reached the end of the game you will come to the realization that their predicament is completely hopeless.
Unlike Knights of the Old Republic, there is not a medal ceremony or ticker tape parade. While the Delta Squad is being debriefed by Master Yoda, they begin to see the fruits of their labor while Republic gunships blast into Kashyyyk. The comrades are heartbroken by the death of one of their comrades and the ones remaining begin to prepare for a new assignment.
If you look at the game in a different light, instead of it just being another shooter filled with explosions, you will see the untold story of four Clone troopers that were imprisoned since birth to a chain of command and the orders that are given to them. The heroes are unlike most Star Wars main characters because they are not given choices past the tactical ones that they are allowed to make to finish a mission. They do not alter the way the war ends in any type of way, the story is actually about the pawns.
During the beginning, while your character is going through their training, it seems like the game is headed to a certain conclusion. The Separatist and Geonosis, who are mainly made of droids as the most expendable units, make a parallel for Delta Squad. Your player will end up at a droid making factory that you have to destroy. Whilst you’re moving through the small corridors of the factory it’s hard to not see the assembly line of droids.
The end of the game is even more amazing because of the fact that the Delta Squad does not decide to go against their orders to save their fallen comrade. The game gives hints that the rest of the Delta Squad may have realized the truth about themselves because they are not any different than a droid, but they choose not to do anything about it. Republic Commando doesn’t give players a typical ending that you expect of your characters because they don’t end up changing for the better.
Delta Squad’s adventures will continue in a mobile game that is called Republic Commando Order 66, where they hunt Jedi during the Purge, and the Republic Commando books by Karen Traviss. There are also two video game sequels called Rebel Commando and Imperial Commando that were cancelled during their early development stages in 2004.
Republic Commando owes just as much to Halo and other tactical shooters as Battlefront owes to the entire Battlefield series. LucasArts was trying to emulate the best contemporary hits in the shooter style genre, and with these two games, they succeeded. It sucks that Republic Commando was not able to compete like Battlefront, but it does make sense.
In a lot of ways, Republic Commando is the best but less popular analog to Halo Combat Evolved, and the sequel eventually stomped the Star Wars shooter sales numbers in 2004. However, taking the amazing Halo 2 out of the equation, Republic Commando emulated Halo CE’s guns, grenades, melee formula very well while they also added a squad-based element that the franchise has only just used in the upcoming Halo 5 Guardians. The director of Republic Commando, Tim Longo, was placed in charge of Halo 5 to give the franchise a little freshening up. What was included in the package is context squad commands that give the game a more tactical feel.
These squad tactics are really where Republic Commando shines brightest and every member on your team has a specialty on the battlefield. You have snipers, demolitions and hacker specialists, and three standard classes.
You are able to command your team to rush in guns blazing or they can stay sneaky and try to sneak past hordes of enemies. Anytime you get to command your sniper or demolitions expert to be a certain points on the map, it’s always much fun. The hacker is going to be the weakest specialist on your team because all he does is open up locked doors and cues up scripted moments in the game when you have to defend a room until he has finished hacking.
One thing that we need to point out is that it can be difficult to tell your squad members apart. They are color coded and have their own sayings but Scorch, Sev, Boss, and Fixer are not very different from each other. This also makes it quite difficult to accept the ultimate death at the end of the game because of the emotional attachment you have to your squad.
Even though Republic Commando is a solid shooter, it has a hard time escaping its legacy as a Halo clone. The humans vs. aliens/robots shooter gameplay is very exciting because of the Star Wars license, the weapons and surroundings are not very interesting. However, Republic Commando is a must-play game if you are a Star Wars fan.
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