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Posted on Nov 29, 2005 in Electronic Games

Star Wars Republic Commando – Game Review (PC)

By Mark H. Walker

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Squad Tactics in the George Lucas Universe

Not all tactical shooters’ stories are based on historic confrontations. For example, the battles portrayed in Brothers in Arms: The Road to Hill 30 actually involved many more men and did not transpire exactly as depicted in the game. Similarly, Full Spectrum Warrior takes place in a fictional country and during an imaginary war, as does Ghost Recon 2.

So it is with Star Wars Republic Commando, an exciting squad-based tactical shooter set in a universe that doesn’t exist and depicting battles that never occurred. You play the leader of a four-man team during the Clone Wars (battles portrayed at the end of Star Wars Episode II) as you fight your way through a variety of missions. From sabotage to assassination, direct action to defend in place, Republic Commando has it all.

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Each team member is an elite commando, adept with his weapon and quick to obey your commands. You can order your squad to secure a location, advance aggressively, concentrate fire on a selected target, or rally around you. Additionally, several context-sensitive commands, which are displayed when you pass the cursor over the appropriate location, either utilize an individual’s special talent or direct the team to perform semicomplex actions.

For example, place the cursor on a boulder at the head of a canyon and then tap a button; your sniper crouches behind the rock, takes aim at any bad guys who enter the canyon and provides cover for your advancing team. Likewise, plop the cursor on a locked door and you can direct your security specialist to deactivate the lock, order your demolitions expert to blow an opening through it, or command your team to breach and enter it.

Although squad control is easy, the missions are anything but. You will break a sweat working your way through this campaign. At first it is not so difficult; however, after an hour of playing, the level of complexity rapidly ramps up. You will need all the tactical acumen you can muster to finish the remainder of the game.

You fight many famous Star Wars adversaries, including battle droids. The missions are varied and challenging. Objectives may change in mid-mission, so fire-team leaders must be prepared to improvise, adapt and overcome.

Winning Commando Tactics

As great as Republic Commando is, it is that much better when you are winning. It is no fun to be stuck in a Geonosian factory or desert canyon, unable to battle your way through the enemy and to your objective. Although it takes considerable practice to master the game, here are a few tips and tactics that might shorten your learning curve.

Learn the Game

As inane as it sounds, taking the time to learn the game may be one of the most overlooked facets in good gaming. Take a minute to browse through the user’s manual. Learn the meaning of the icons, how to issue orders, and the strengths and weaknesses of the weapons. For example, although thermal detonators are effective against battle droids, EC detonators, which emit an electrostatic shock, work even better.

Also make note of what each group command does. For instance, "secure area" is more than a defensive command. If you direct your team members to secure the area in an uncleared room, they will advance into the space and destroy any opposition they find. "Search and destroy" is also a very aggressive command. It orders your squad to lead the way and attempt to destroy any opposition it encounters. This command works well if you expect only light opposition that your commandos can bull through; however, they will likely be killed if they charge into the middle of a hornet’s nest of enemies. So take a minute to size up the consequences of this command before issuing it.

Proper tactics make a difference. Here a sniper covers the advance of his teammates. Your fire team employs a variety of weapons, from assault rifles to demolitions.

Real Tactics That Work

Just because Star Wars Republic Commando is science fiction doesn’t mean that the ageless principle of fire and maneuver is any less effective. In fact, it works very well in the Star Wars universe. One way to use it is to find a sniping location that overlooks a canyon, room or area that needs to be cleared, and place your sniper there. Rally the rest of your team to your location and then advance toward the objective. Halt and take position at the next available cover. Now both you and your sniper are providing covering fire. Order the remainder of your team to clear the objective using the "secure area" command. The mobile elements of the team will advance into the area under the protection of your watchful guns. The firepower provided by this suppression element should make clearing the area much easier for the two-man maneuver team.

There is a lot to learn in Star Wars Republic Commando, but the effort is well worth it. Its unique mix of action, strategy and tactics make playing something to relish, not hurry through. If you are searching for a diversion that excites the senses as well as challenges the brain, this is your game!

Released February 2005
Rated T for Teen (Violence, Blood and Gore)
Developed by LucasArts
Published by LucasArts
MSRP approximately $50
Formatted for PC and Xbox

Originally published in the November 2005 issue of Armchair General magazine.

Author Information

Mark H. Walker is a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. A veteran electronic entertainment/IT journalist and board game designer, he has authored or contributed to over 40 books and recently designed the critically acclaimed board wargame "Lock ‘n Load."

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