Fashionably Late: Star Wars Republic Commando
Star Wars Republic Commando seems like a game from an alternate universe, especially playing it in 2020. A single-player, squad-based first-person shooter? It's hard to imagine such a game ever existed considering the trajectory of the genre today but alas it's real and it's glorious. Republic Commando is not just an excellent game from yesteryear but a game that can stand tall even today and go toe to toe with many of the current FPS offerings.
As Delta-38, you command a group of elite Clone Troopers task with going behind enemy lines and shifting the tides of war for the Republic.
There isn't much more to it than that but what the game lacks in a well-constructed narrative it makes up for it with excellent level design and expertly paced campaign that will keep you thrilled from start to finish.
It's one intense firefight to the next with ever-escalating stakes giving you a real sense of being in the shit of it. There's always this feeling that a barrage of laser fire is right above your head and the feeling of danger is always prevalent. It's similar to a Call of Duty Campain but unlike those games, YOU are the leader. Your Squad follows You.
The game is split up into 3 distinct campaigns that are all connected through the framework of the Clone Wars. The looming threat of war is ever prevalent adding a great sense of urgency to the gameplay. From the Wookie home planet to a derelict Republicghost ship, each level looks excellent and oozes Star Wars. The 3 campaign locations do a great job expanding on Star Wars lore giving us a much grittier perspective and highlighting the lesser-known characters of this giant universe. There are no familiar faces, no Jedi's or Sith lords yet the game still manages to authentically represent its source material in a relevant way.
Delta-38 and the rest of the squad are totally badass. Each one of your squadmates feels real and their intelligence goes way past your squad commands. Each Delta has a personality and hearing them banter during a hectic firefight or competing with one another helps each feel more than an A.I companion. I found myself worrying about them and always making sure they were in tip-top shape before the next encounter not only because they were integral to each other's survival but because I grew to like them. Delta-38 is a little more reserved than the rest of his squad, him being the leader and all, but even still I enjoyed him as the game's protagonist. It felt like if Delta-38 would be in the movies he would quickly become a fan favorite similar to Boba Fett.
The squad mechanics are simple but their implementation is meaningful and effective. Delta-38 can have the squad defend a position, form up behind him, and search and destroy. These commands will allow the squad to perform their duties freely without the need for micromanagement and for the most part it's great. Your squads A.I is more than competent and are perfectly capable of clearing out less difficult rooms without your help at all. It's immensely satisfying having your squad destroy everything in an area without you shooting a single bullet. Though oftentimes your instructions will need to be more meticulous.
Scattered around each area you'll find vantage points and other interactable items that will allow you to designate a Commando to perform a specific action. You'll be able to set up sniping positions, cover fire, door breaches and much more. I was surprised to see how well everything worked. I was ready to completely ignore being tactical but not only was it essential for survival but it's simplicity ensured it was always fun to use. Coordinating a kill box before an enemy breach was not only simple to perform but watching all the pieces you set up fall into place is delightfull.
There is always a tactical solution to any problem in Republic Commando. Take for instance door breaches. You can either breach it with a bomb or have one of your commandos splice the control panel. The former is better for situations you know there will be heavy resistance and the latter if you want to get the drop on the enemy. You never get penalized for your decision but it's cool knowing both approaches work.
Your arsenal is pretty much the typical FPS affair but with the Star Wars twist, we all know and love. Your main weapon the DC-17m is what you'll be spending most of your time with but this isn't your ordinary plasma rifle. Its interchangeable parts allow its to go from a standard automatic blaster to an armor-piercing grenade launcher, and finally a sniper rifle. You will constantly be switching between the DC-17's three forms to tackle the variety of enemies you'll encounter. Each attachment is better suited for specific situations. The only real problem with the DC-17 is that the main blaster attachment feels underpowered. Armored enemies can easily take what feels like 100 rounds before going down. I found myself out of anti-armor ammo often and being stuck with the blaster to take on harder enemies is incredibly tedious.
Nearly 15 years later Star Wars Republic Commando is still an excellent FPS that deserves our attention, especially since single-player FPS'S are growing increasingly rare. The strong authenticity of the Star Wars brand on display is not much of a surprise but the games stellar presentation is only one aspect of why this game rocks. Delta-38 and the Commandos are awesome characters and further drive home the excellent squad mechanics that always make you feel in control. The intense gunfights keep the campaign fresh through its entirety and ensure there is never a dull moment.