Star Wars: Republic Commando Review
Developer: Aspyr, LucasArts | Publisher: Aspyr | Genre: Tactical First-Person Shooter | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 | Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
In the early 2000s, LucasArts was blasting its way through a terrific catalog of Star Wars games. Battlefront II, Knights of The Old Republic, Jedi Outcast, LEGO Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith, the studio just kept pumping out quality titles around the franchise faster than ever before across both consoles and PC. Particularly in 2005, LucasArts was on a hot streak as they constantly saw new titles that revolutionized Star Wars video games practically every few months. Whether it was ushering to the elegant physicality of lightsaber combat or creating large-scale battles by gun across an intricate war front, Star Wars was booming with variety during the time in which the prequel trilogy was coming to a close with its final film Episode III: Revenge of The Sith. Out of all the iconic names that originated from this period, one title that avoided using the force went on to become a cult classic with a small following. Star Wars: Republic Commando spotlighted the headspace of only the clones as it grappled with cocky tactical soldiers out to kill some enemy clankers and Separatists in clever fashion.
Star Wars: Republic Commando is the only tactical first-person Star Wars game to focus on an elite group of clone commandos during the era of the Clone Wars. As Delta Squad is sent on missions to assassinate troublemaking individuals, blow up critical battlefield structures, and gain intel about the Separatist Alliance’s droid army, players helm the role of their group leader, “Boss.” Taking place as soon as the ending of Episode II: Attack of the Clones, players begin their journey to gain the Republic’s victory over the war first through Kaminoan test tubes before engaging in the Battle of Geonosis. As Delta Squad rummages through a slew of interconnected missions, the team travels to only two iconic Star Wars planets from the prequels and an assault ship during their five-hour runtime. Republic Commando is as short as it is concise.
Star Wars: Republic Commando currently has no place in Disney’s expanding canon. However, Delta Squad does appear in Season 3 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars during one episode’s opening — in other words, it would not be too farfetched to consider this one to be feasible of the post-George Lucas helmed timeline, unlike Aspyr’s other various ports. If you are a Star Wars fan looking for more material from the shows or movies, Republic Commando is certainly not a complete story arc, but it does provide a gripping introduction to a small space of what is probably the world’s largest franchise content-wise through expanded lore. Gameplay is where Republic Commando thrives most — if you want to see Delta Squad’s full story to the end, then you are going to have to read the five novels that take place after the campaign (luckily these books can be found on Amazon for about $7 each though).
As a tactical first-person shooter, Star Wars: Republic Commando has players doing exactly what you would expect from the genre. While commanding three other clone commandos to help on the battlefield, the player has to multitask handling their own weaponry. As swarms of enemies come down to annihilate Delta Squad, players have to learn how to efficiently conduct their four troops at the same time. Boss, Scorch, Fixer, and Sev all have unique quirks, but ultimately all the clones can conduct the same tasks. When it comes to weaponry itself, players are given an array of different guns and grenades to work with. Each weapon appropriately has ammo counters that keep players constantly thinking when they should use what. With positives and setbacks for each weapon, going in guns blazing on top of commanding a squad that all attains specific quirks is never a viable option. Without careful consideration of your actions progressing through stages at an efficient pace without having to restart from the same checkpoint a dozen times becomes exponentially challenging.
Figuring out when to commit to the task at hand and defending your clone commandos is how Star Wars: Republic Commando presents major challenges to the player. Whether it’s having Fixer open a door, letting Sev take a far sniper position, or having Scorch defend the team from an onslaught of battle droids, the game is always letting players think in unique ways that allow them to ultimately succeed. Balancing your brute force and requisite to defend is always thought-provoking as intended. Between keeping ammo reserves for specific enemies, knowing when to hit stationary bacta tanks to heal, and figuring out an enemy’s weak point, players are never left just shooting endlessly at hostiles. Republic Commando’s gameplay still achieves modern expectations due to its well-thought-out structure of elements. It constantly retains challenge while simply being an entertaining way of shooting foes from a galaxy far far away.
What makes this port different from Republic Commando’s original Xbox and PC release are only two aspects–one of which is an enhancement while the other a setback. As to be expected with Aspyr’s ports, both graphics and controls have received some needed upgrades, yet nothing has been added to the game itself. As someone who played quite a bit of Republic Commando on Xbox through backwards compatibility, the controls do feel a bit tighter, especially when it comes to camera movement. However, there are no major noticeable differences between the original and the port. Graphically, though, the game has no doubt been updated all the way to high definition and also achieves a locked sixty frames per second. Republic Commando runs buttery smooth and the load times are almost nonexistent in comparison to the original counterpart.
The one real setback with this title outside of its obvious unavoidable aging in specific aspects is the fact that, upsettingly, it did not make reviving the multiplayer a priority. Level design that has not aged well and some poor texture quality is acceptable in terms of this port’s case, but deleting entire features can be rather questionable. Aspyr has done a great job porting over the single-player portion of Star Wars: Republic Commando, but not having that second social feature is a bit of a letdown. The online is still available on the game’s original PC release and Xbox backwards compatibility, but finding players is obviously difficult due to the fact that the title is over fifteen years old. It’s understandable as to why this feature was cut, yet it no doubt will reduce the value of this version for many returning players. At its core, Republic Commando is truly something for those looking for more single-player Star Wars experiences, and it does not disappoint in that regard.
Star Wars: Republic Commando retains its footing as it enters the modern age of tactical first-person shooters. It may be under fire from the modern expectations of its genre, but it still manages to hold its position for an entertaining single-player experience. From its incredible music score to its impressive gameplay from a technical standpoint of its time, Republic Commando has certainly managed to survive its rocky endeavors into the future. Aspyr has done a great job bringing the title to high definition as it once again presents one of LucasArts’ most beloved classics to modern systems, but it is still a shame that the developer does not strive to do more with their ports. Republic Commando will leave players desiring a modern remake, and with the upcoming Star Wars: The Bad Batch series on Disney+, now is the perfect time to indulge in Delta Squad’s multiplexed solo human war zone. If you have not played Star Wars: Republic Commando before, Aspyr’s latest port is the perfect way to experience this cult classic even if it does not add anything of significance to its already admirable base.