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Republic Commando is a stylish experience, but sadly a little too repetitive to make it stand out from a big crowd...
Billed as Star Wars does Halo, Star Wars: Republic Commando is a first-person-shooter with heavy emphasis on squad tactics and enjoyable action, which will endure it not only to fans of the subject but also those looking for yet another decent shooter.
Set during the Clone Wars and helping to pass the time between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, right from the start Star Wars: Republic Commando is a markedly different experience from other Star Wars titles. Replacing the unequivocally traditional scrolling storyline that always begins a long, long time ago, Republic Commando begins with a stylish introduction that witnesses your character being â??hatchedâ? on Kamino as you fall in and out of consciousness through a series of semi-interactive scenes.
Described as an elite, an individual capable of changing the tides of war, your character takes control of three other Republic Commandos, and despite the fact that theyâ??re all clones the game installs a surprising amount of personality throughout the adventure, assisted mainly because of the constant radio chatter and also the fact that each member have distinct abilities which youâ??ll come to rely upon.
The game incorporates a simplistic â??one-touchâ? squad control system, which allows you to issue a variety of context-sensitive instructions such as sniping from a certain location or setting up position to breach a door with explosives. This is arguably one of the gameâ??s strongest aspects, and within minutes youâ??ll have your squad-mates strategically running around the battlefield. In addition itâ??s possible to issue generic commands such as â??Search & Destroyâ? and â??Holdâ? through combinations of the A button and d-pad. Thankfully the AI of the other units is quite impressive, and as such you donâ??t have to worry too much when the action heats up and the last thing you want to be worrying about is the welfare of your squad â?“ that said weâ??re a little bemused by the number of times we found them wandering into firing lines.
Whilst weâ??re on the subject, special note must be given to the way the game rather ingeniously handles death. Naturally being hard-as-nails, death doesnâ??t mean that for the Republic Commandos and youâ??ll be able to revive downed squad-members with the Star Wars equivalent of electro-sock resuscitation. When you find yourself downed, youâ??ll be able to call on your team-mates to revive you or hold on to the command that theyâ??re currently pursuing, a neat touch particularly heightened by the smart visual effect.
Another neat touch that lends the game a distinctive Metroid Prime flavour is the HUD, which features the similar concept of recreating the units helmet. Thereâ??s a wealth of information displayed on your HUD, whilst little touches such as an electronic wiper continue to further embellish the concept. If we had to criticise itâ??s not quite in the same classy league as Samus Arranâ??s and suffers from probably being a little too complex for its own good â?“ but it almost satisfies one of our childhood memories of donning the Stormtrooper helmet so thatâ??s good enough for us.
Youâ??ll largely make use of only one weapon throughout the game, which comes in the form of the interchangeable DC-17m. Beginning as merely an Ion Blaster, further components found later in the game expand this with Sniper and Anti-Armour capabilities. Itâ??s a nice concept and switching between the various modes is handled nicely, but on the whole weâ??d say it feels a little puny and could do with a little more re-coil and sense of impact to your shots. Surprisingly the melee attack with this weapons feels far more substantial, and youâ??ll often find yourself just resorting to this because of its one-hit-kill effectives and the fact that armour-recharge points are never far between. When youâ??ve run out of ammo youâ??ll have to fall back on the trusted DC-15s side-arm blaster, whilst you can also pick up a small selection of other weapons from the various foes that you vanquish.
Which brings us on to the biggest complaint to be had with Star Wars: Republic Commando, namely that thereâ??s not enough variation between the assorted opponents youâ??ll come across. Between the Geonosians, Trandoshans and Droids, youâ??ll find yourself getting sick of the sight of them after only a short time with the game. Thankfully the mission variety does a lot to sustain your interest as does the overall gameplay, but you canâ??t help find yourself groaning at just how â??clonedâ? the experience can feel at times.
Visually the game does a lot to impress, thanks mainly to the distinctive level of detail running throughout every aspect of the game. The various characters within the game display a good level of localised damage, so as youâ??d expect itâ??s possible to blow the limbs off a droid and watch amusingly as it marches forward in its tireless quest.
Equally the sound throughout does a good job of creating frenzied atmosphere, whilst the constant banter between squad members in a neat touch that heightens the sense of immersion throughout the game.
Sadly the Single-Player campaign is extremely light in terms of substance and most gamers will find the end credits scrolling way before the 10 hour mark. The game does contain Xbox Live! and Online play, but the generic selection of modes and lack of specific thought gone into this mode ensure itâ??s largely a side-thought that wonâ??t have you playing for months to come. Certainly online Co-Op would have perfectly suited the game with players each taking a role in the squad, but itâ??s not to be found and unlikely ever to do so.
There’s simply too many high-quality first-person-shooters available on the PC and Xbox to make this worthwhile for anyone but the biggest SW buff, and the overall repetitive nature prevents it from appealing to those just looking for a quality shooter – it’s certainly one of the better Star Wars offerings, but in a genre that doesn’t really need it.
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