Star Tre-I mean Star Wars! The gripping science fiction masterpiece that’s spawned so many different story mediums Disney had to make it all non-canon just because it’s too f@cking big. Like my lightsaber. Farm boys becoming ace pilots, X-wings swimming through space to invade bow ties, and sword wielding mages fighting to protect or enslave the galaxy. Star Wars is an awe-inspiring science fiction franchise and, to me, the science fiction franchise that many see today as historically relevant and genre breaking.
I would say I’m a major fan of the franchise, but I’ve mostly viewed the movies and shows, for better and for worst. Reylo makes me sick. I was an avid fan of the first 6 movies, my jaw dropping at the Death Star imploding in Ep4 and Anakin and Obi-wan fighting their way through General Grievous’ ship in Ep 3. This was my jam as a kid, never getting tired of sword fights and incredible set pieces…well, except for the shitty CG added to the original. Funnily enough, I used to think that the prequel trilogy was made first before the original. My 6-year-old brain never noticed how old Ep 4 was. .
However, despite this love, I never really went out of my way to experience the all-expansive Expanded Universe much (Legends now, if you’re a newbie), only playing Dark Forces, reading 2 books, and watching the Old Republic trailers. Now, like many properties growing up, my computer was slow as balls, so I never learned there was such thing as an EU past middle school. Same thing with Nintendo; I legitimately thought every character in Melee only existed in Melee. While it’s exciting and refreshing to finally experience some of the EU content, I couldn’t get into it because of how big it was. Like my lightsaber. I compare it to the Bionicle lore, except even more massive. As stupid as it was making EU non-canon, I could almost agree with some of the logic considering no general audience is gonna read, watch, or play all the sh@t to understand a sequel trilogy. Then again, to my dismay, my journey into the EU turned out to not be confusing at all, especially Darth Plagues, so what do I know. In any case, I love this franchise. Anything from the EU is a genuinely exciting feeling and brings back the adventure of discovering something new, and I do think Star Wars is in good hands with Filoni. If only a certain KK would leave already.
So, why I am rambling and not diving head first into the game? One, cause I have the keyboard. Two, setting the scene. One aspect about Star Wars that’s interesting is the latter war. The Prequals would end up showing how war is in this franchise, with the movies and Clone Wars giving a full in-depth look into the different conflicts the Jedi and the clones went through against the several Separatist and 3rd party enemies. While I did find Clone Wars to be a masterpiece, and especially helped with the viewing of the prequals, there is one game before that showed not only a uniquely grim side of the war, but also the fact that clones have personality. Republic Commando; the black ops story of the Republic. Ever wonder who takes care of the behind the scenes during the war? You didn’t? Too bad, here it is.
Republic Commando: No Fancy Weapons and Ancient Religions Here
Created by Lucasfilm in 2005, released on PC and Xbox, this game is about a black ops team of commandos performing several missions during the years of the war while being as unprofessional and professional as possible. It’s incredible how much they walk that thin line. With Temuera Morrison returning to play Boss, the playable character, a slew of talented voice actors giving it their all, and more violence than usual in a Star Wars game, Republic Commando sets itself apart as a hard-edged game while managing to balance the grittiness with bantering humor.
The Story: Uhh…
It isn’t…much of a story per say. There is a consistent plot within, but each campaign is essentially its own thing. The game starts with a montage of Boss’s life, being bred by the noodle necks to be trained in the republic’s new, totally-not-shady, clone army. However, unlike many of his brethren, Boss is trained to become a Commando, an elite soldier specialized for infiltration mission(despite the fact that their given one of the best guns in the army considering it can be customized to be a machine gun, a sniper rifle, and an actual grenade launcher. Someone knowledgably in Legends explain this to me, because Regs would live longer if they had this). However, he isn’t alone, as he’s chosen to be the leader of Delta Squad, consisting of: Scorch, the demolition expert who’s got something to say every 10 minutes, Fixer, the no-shit attitude soldier who follows orders and quiets banter, and Sev, the murderous sniper who counts kill and banters a lot with Scorch. Okay, Filoni, we all know you played this before making Bad Batch. Afterwards, Boss is seen outside as everyone is loading up for Geonosia during Ep 2. Once you enter the Republic Gunship, it’s time to rack your kills.
There are 3 campaign missions based on a world(or a ship): Geonosis, the Prosecutor, and Kashyyyk. While that sounds short, each campaign lasts a while with several different missions within. And lots of enemies.
Geonosis: Pest Control
Something of a side story during Ep 2, Delta Sqaud to take out of Sun Fac, a Geonosian leader with a beautiful, evil beard like chin. You meet each of your squad one by one as you make your way, while simultaneously taking care of other missions behind the scenes to give a Republic their first edge in this starting war.
The Prosecutor: Because All Republic Ships have to Enforce the Fact That They Are The Ruling Government
Delta Squad is going deep into space when a republic cruiser, their first home, has mysteriously stopped all contact and has been found damaged in a sector it shouldn’t be in. The squad splits up to receive data on what exactly happened, slowly realizing the horror of a new alliance brewing for the separatist faction.
Kashyyyk: Even the name is asking “Why!”
Sometime during the timeline of Ep 3, this new alliance comes into play in the final mission, where the Wookies are under threat of invasion. The first task is to save their leader, Tarfful, before breaking out into all-out war to secure the Wookie civilization away from separatist tyranny. All mechanics come together in this race of time to prove Ki-Adi-Mundi right.
I appreciate how Delta Squad’s story is this small part of the prequal trilogy while still feeling like a fully fleshed story on its own. It’s paced well due to its constant action, but it allows for slow and downright creepy moments, especially the 2nd mission. This special ops perspective gives a different and unique look to the franchise and world; a perspective lacking in the safe and magical feeling the Jedi always gave us.
Solo: Shoot First, Ask Questions Never
The game mechanics are split into two different categories: solo and team. On your own, the game is a standard FPS. You’ve got the guns, the bombs, and the armor to take out anything in your path. Besides the customizable DC-17m, you’ve got a pistol with unlimited rounds, an arm blade to cut NEEEECKS, and enemy weapons that are either dropped by them or just lying around carelessly. From the Geonosian Arm Cannon to the Wookie Bowcaster, there is a lot of variety for play that keeps fire fights from becoming stale.
There are some rules to weaponry to keep in mind. There are different grenades for different situations that don’t work in others, like the flash grenade to stun organics and the EMP for mechanical foes. Enemies require logical strategies to conserve as much ammo as you’ll want or need for the next level, as transitions to the next section (sometimes) doesn’t replenish it in a way like Metal Arms. Will you use grenades or the grenade launcher to quickly deal with Supers or save it in case you’re in a swarm of enemies later on? I never really noticed, but enemy weaponry is said to not be as effective against their maker.
I went back to test this and I noticed a few things, and the few things are that it doesn’t matter! The in-between level text was added to the switch (unless the PC version just didn’t have this) and that’s where the quote came from. Spoilers, the Trando shotgun and machine gun and the Geonosian laser beam do the job on their makers. If anything the machine gun is crap against Super Battle Droids, and even then they’re hard with the standard weaponry the commandos get. I’m not quite sure what they’re referring to. Maybe this was a feature meant for the game but was never implemented? Maybe the writers for the quotes weren’t informed? I don’t know, either way it probably would have ruined the streamline and creativity of fights anyway if the enemy guns didn’t work on the enemies.
Here’s a segment of videos showing it off:
Movement is pretty standard, though I wouldn’t get used to the jump button like Mario. You’ll use the left stick to move to run around while you use the right for camera/aim. And… it’s pretty clunky on the Switch. Unlike the accuracy of a computer mouse, I have a difficult time aiming at enemies because of how sensitive the camera movement is. The wired controller for dock mode is a lot better, but playing hand held can be frustrating. Starting out the first time, I stared at droids with a deadly grin while using 20 bullets to kill one. There is a zoom in button and assist aim, and enough practice will help, but expect some sluggish controls at the beginning.
However, and I’m not sure if this is in the other versions, there is an apparent limit to how much you can move the camera left and right. Unfortunately, there is a constant glitch where the camera will just sky rocket all the way in different direction, mostly up and down. Because of this, it moves the camera to its limit, so it appears as if it got locked from that position. This gets infuriating during combat because it makes it so you can’t hit enemies on either side. This is, unfortunately, the beginning of this port’s problems.
Here’s an example:
Finally, since there are levels where you’re on your own, it’s best to understand the solo mechanics well because the game is way harder when it’s by yourself. When you die with your team, you can command them to revive you, prompting some funny lines and moments. When you die alone, it’s game over. Luckily, these levels accommodate your loneliness, so it never “feels” like you need the team in these moments. I’ll admit, I enjoy these sections because the game becomes a solid single FPS, allowing you appreciate the rest of the game for managing to balance both, and listening in to your squad do their part.
Together: Boys will be boys, Clones will be murder machines.
The game’s best mechanic is its command controls with the team. While dealing with blaster fire, you have to command and navigate the team effectively if you hope to get through a level in relatively one piece.
The A Button: If Only We Had This In Real Life.
The A button is your best friend when performing quick commands, something the devs did to ease Star Wars players into this kind of tactical FPS genre. Throughout each level, there will be interactive objects for you or your team to use in order to advance, such as hackable data terminals, sniping positions, and bombable walls. The coolest one is door breaches, where you can choose to either go into a room quietly by hacking the controls or performing an actual break in procedure by placing a small charge on the door.
The process of simply pressing A is seamless and fun, with the only nitpick being the lack of control of who goes to do what and sometimes making a squad member do a task despite the fact you’re standing right in front of the thing! Plus, only squad members can use sniping positions. The way the game sends squad members is that it makes the closest one or the one who isn’t doing anything do the task, while with bacta it’s the person with sustained damage.
I understand that having the option to choose a member breaks the quick pace and concentration during fire, which is perfectly fine, but I wish I could choose which member does what because I have to rely on either the game choosing for me or meticulously manipulating it to what I want, which is a lot slower. The game gave the squad member’s specialties to reduce the time spent on a task: Fixer is quick with datapads, Sev is good at sniping, and Scorch is faster with detonators. It’s agitating watching Fixer be put in sniper duty and having to rely on Sev or Scorch to take so long on a terminal. Not being able to choose who does what and rely on luck in the situation, I feel, take as bit away from player control.
By the way, besides doing commands, you are the only one who can detonate charges, meaning you have to rely on squad members to revive you if you die. The game is difficult for many good reasons, but its stuff like this that feels arbitrary.
Advanced Maneuvers: When A Really Becomes the Best Button
When you hold A, you bring up four maneuvers/tactics that the team will follow:
-Form up: When you want the squad to stay close together
-Seek and Destroy: An offensive position where squad members roam around to find and kill enemies.
-Secure Area: A defensive position where they stay to protect a single spot.
-Cancel All: This is best for when you have every member doing something, i.e sniping or taking a torrent, and you need to move on. It’s a faster way to tell them to get your ass over hear instead of pressing A to individually cancel each position.
The Helmet: Micromanaging All in One Space
On your own, it’s just about using low light when it’s too hard to see (which makes the abandoned ship level so much better for its lonely atmosphere), your own health, ammo on the gun, and which grenade is equipped. But, to explain why I saved it for this section, the part that draws a lot of attention is your team members health, located on the bottom left. Green is good, yellow is worrisome, and orange is when you get a man some bacta. Normal or hard, you’re gonna want to pay attention to this so you know who needs health and needs cover when your being overrun. If you’re in a situation where a member or 2 (or all sometimes), it becomes crucial to get this menu stuck in your routine.
Overview of Squad Commands
The difficulty in Republic Commando comes from this balancing act of completing the objective, killing enemies, and creating damage control through commands. Because of how straight forward and non-linear they are, it allows for creative experimentation on multiple replays, seeing which different strategies work best or worse in a given situation. It’s not very complex, although some would be nice, but the devs implemented in a way where it doesn’t hinder the intensity of fights. It’s the perfect blend that reinforces the team aspect of Delta Squad. It’s engaging as hell and never gets boring thanks to the way each level is made and paced. I’d say this game mechanic it was solidified Republic Commando as the perfect videogame: fun and replayable.
Enemies: They’ve Sent In the Supers!
To reference a past game, one of the things I adored about Metal Arms was its enemies and A.I. They each packed a punch, even the lowly grunts when they’re together in groups. It required a lot of patience and strategy to take them down within each level, but it allowed every weapon to be used against them in creative ways. Plus, they were great at duking out damage and simultaneously crapping on you for being a scrub.
Republic Commando has its own slew of enemies, though some are more difficult than others. If you seriously die to a regular battle droid that was not from behind or from previous damage, you need to git gud. If you died because the camera messed up, well then you get a pass and a beer for my empathy. Super Battle Droids, on the other hand, will decimate you. I’m gonna say it, this is the best iteration of the Supes in the franchise (I know I talked about not knowing the EU. I meant be the best I’ve seen). The shows and Battlefront make them out to be as expendable as tin cans, but this game portrayed them as hulking, heavily armored terminators that take a beating just to damage a portion of the shell. Their rocket launchers hit hard, they take more than just regular shots to kill, and they sometimes still go on even when their legs stop working. Somehow, Supes being walking tanks are more terrifying in this game than the Droidekas, also named Destroyers. Let that sink in. Their difficulty is reminiscent the Metal Arms Titans, especially their heavy weaponry and mountains of armor. I’d love to see a death battle between them.
The other typical enemies are the organics. Geonosians become difficult due to their flying tactics, mostly seen with the Elites, and close combat attacks with a spear, plus their babies. The best way to describe their children is like a baby xenomorph who’s born in a sort of midway point to the adult Xeno. They use the dark areas where they’re born to screech like demons and spit acid at you. Gonna say it, I don’t feel bad murdering the little shits. Then there are the, spoilers, Trandoshans. These guys are a huge nuisance, especially in the second campaign. One of their tactics is coming out of literally nowhere. Vents? Trandos. Corner? Trandos. A f@cking tree? Lizard! They’re a lot smarter with their A.I, such as picking up your grenades and throwing them back. Other than that, they have… jetpacks? The ones with machines guns have these strange backpacks which I’m not sure what’s it used for, but it sends them flying in a blazing glory when you fire at it. Finally, the Trando Elites are these hulking hulks who uses a Gatling guns of death, murder, and eviscerations. They’re pretty much the trando version of Supes, but they’re a lot easier in my opinion. First appearance is great, especially how they show him physical crushing clones like their nothing, but that first appearance is quickly diminished since they appear in areas with a lot of wiggle room compared to the choking hallways Supes are found.
Humor: My Ways Both Confuse and Disturb Scorch
Let’s be real, the best thing about Republic Commando is the commandos themselves. In a game full of death and violence, their constant quips and bantering during levels gives life to the grim situations, eases the tension, and gives character to them behind the mask. Most of it consists of Scorch and Sev talking smack to each, Fixer having enough of their shit, Scorch making commentary like how he can’t remember if it’s the green wire or red wire (and he’s supposed to be the demolition expert); Boss sometimes making comments to himself while Fixer asks about it, Fixer once complaining about a Wookie in the middle of crossfire but hesitating when Scorch says that he should tell them and so many other quips and lines, and Sev just letting out some disturbing facts. It’s so much that I had to make a poorly structured list just to fit a general synopsis of their humor.
Here’s a few of my favorite:
Even cutscenes have some fun little moments, such as the squad helping each other adjust their backpacks, Sev zoning out when he was supposed to press the elevator button, Scorch and Sev having some brotherly fights, and many. It brings a nice breath of air in between the tense moments, and gives real character to a squad that otherwise never gets development (this isn’t one of those games). They aren’t just mindless soldiers, they’re real people who have a sick sense of humor. The humor itself helps them stick out from the rest of the clones, even the ones in Clone Wars, but also allows for the serious situation are never downplayed. It’s well balanced to perfection and you’ll leave the game hearing their quotes in your head for months.
Attention to Detail: This is Where the Fun Begins
I’m currently learning how important attention to detail really is for a piece of art medium. While it may appear that little things shouldn’t matter, it greatly elevates it because it shows how careful the writer, developer, or whoever was with the art. The creators of Republic Commando went out of there way to immerse you into the world in a very flawless way.
The first mission alone sets up the quality and tone of the game, right as you watch a fellow clone get snagged and killed in first minute. Now, whoever did the sound design is a god because it has weight and is satisfyingly crisp. As you move through the battlefield, you hear gun shots, clones screaming for their lives, the devilish roars of Geonosians, bombs going off, and so much chaos that it creates the perfect war environment. The coms have a nice static and low frequency to them like a real radio. The sound of your gun is effective at giving “umph” to attacks, much like the impact the guns in Metal Arms had. The best part is that no music plays; It allows the environment to speak for itself rather than dramatic music. A perfect first level to lay down what you’ll expect.
Other little sound and seeable details include:
-The sound of steam when you reload
-Reverb in large, chasm like places to create an echo effect.
-The shink of your vibroblade
-The robotic sound effect for droids
-The little click and clacks of armor and footprints
There is also a lot of smaller things that gives the game more life:
-Commandos limp when heavily hurt
-The DC-17m, when in the standard mode, has this little rivet at the end of the muzzle that ricochets as you fire.
-The weird claws of the Geonosian gun “tapping” your arm like a bug. It’s it…trying to dig in but can’t cause of the armor?
-The squad doing littles things during cutscenes, mentioned before.
-The little details behind the Super Battle Droid armor, like the little wires and buttons revealed when you blow it off
-Add many more
Soundtrack: *Insert Raging Mandalorian Language*
It’s okay. A lot it is leans towards the atmospheric side, which greatly adds to the tense tone of the campaign but isn’t that enjoyable outside of that, at least for me. It utilizes pre-existing Star Wars music from the movies which, from what I’ve experienced with Battlefront 2, Dark Forces, and Dark Forces 2, seems to be the go-to way to further cement a Star Wars game as a Star Wars. It brings a nice familiarity considering the game barely has notable Star Wars characters, though I do enjoy its main theme. The Mandalorian chanting has presence, giving a gothic mood like the Commandos are some heavenly force (which they are). Other than that, there isn’t much to say. Great music for in the moment, but not something I’d listen to on my own.
Multiplayer: Escaping the Bull of $20 Internet
Not on the Switch version. I saw some gameplay of it while writing this and it actually looked fun. With the single mode already being pretty tight, I could imagine the multiplayer being a fun FPS like Battlefront. But that’s all for me on that. Let me know in the comments your memories of this cause I do like nostalgia and other’s people nostalgia for stuff.
Like with Metal Arms (Jesus I’m referencing this game a lot), unlockable are just interviews about how the game was made. I love these because, like I’ve stated in previews reviews, you get to understand how the game was made. It gives insight into how the team actually learned from a special ops agent on how to perform the right positions and movement to later implement in the 3d design, how Morrison gave personality to Boss and why he’s the greatest after a spa day, and how the sound designer created the effects. It’s not new maps, it’s not costumes, and it’s not anything that affects the actual game, but it’s there to inform you on how a masterpiece was made if you’re interested. And that, to me, is better than loot crates.
On the history of development, it’s amazing how Republic Commando managed to be this good in what I can only describe as a hostile work environment. Lucasfilm games was going through changes once the prequals came, ending up changing management and going for more “numbers” than unique quality. The game suffered a lot because the president didn’t believe in it, wanting more broader audiences with all your favorite characters. It’s this disrespect that ended up giving the game poor marketing and sales. There were even apparently layoffs in the team, yet they still persevered and delivered a quality game. I suggest watching GVMRs discussion on the history for a better insight into this strenuous development history. He gives more detailed insight, a reason to love the development team, and kind of a satisfying feeling knowing that the president failed because of his actions.
Presentation of the Switch Version: A Sadness Undeserving for a Legend
Alright, now that I’m done talking about the game generally, besides some mentions of how this port controls and has, I’m now gonna divert attention to crapping on the switch port. Now I personally can’t compare it to the PC one my brother owns back home now right now, considering I’m in a college with potentially horny people, but I can say that the comparisons throughout Youtube make a good point. The graphics and frame rate can be choppy at times, especially with character models. For me, the frame rate isn’t too bad, but it could look a lot better for a Switch port. Plus, despite the fact that I praised it for having echoes in large areas, this version got rid of it. 0/10, worst port ever. For real though, it’s a shame such a great game has such a crappy port. Compared to the other versions, this game just looks straight from the 2000s with all its graphical problems. I know it wasn’t marketed as a remaster, but I’d much prefer a remaster to touch up on the graphics short comings. All in all, the presentation for the Switch version is poor. And this is the same console with Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, yet an older game runs worse.
Overall Overview: A Great Game Nonetheless
Its Star Wars games like this and Battlefront that cemented the love I have for the franchise. While this port’s bugs and graphical errors degrade it, and a lack of multiplayer if you veterans enjoyed that, the single player campaign is investing, playable, and fun enough to get it. I do have to recommend the X-box or Steam versions, even a physical PC version if you can somehow find one, for better quality, but if you have a Switch primarily then I’d say go for it. At least it’s not too expensive; just $14 bucks. Really wish the porters went for a remaster.
If you’re hungry for some good Star Wars content, want to see how the original EU was (yes, I know I said this is technically canon, but this was during the EU years), or just want a stellar Tactical FPS game full of death, Black Ops missions, and bros hanging out along the way, then I highly recommend getting Republic Commando. I’m giving this game a 10/10 overall, but an 8/10 for the switch version.
Btw, did you know a sequel was in the works back in the day, but it ended getting cancelled. Apparently Sev, who’s, spoilers, status was made killed-in-action by the end, would have come back and, essentially, start the rebellion. There are no words to describe how much I hate this timeline.
Star Wars: Republic Commando Hard Contact
I highly recommend this book, by Karen Traviss, for those who can afford to read books. It’s a solid that continuing what the game started in terms of Black Ops operations and tone, though depicting Omega Squad instead of Delta. Don’t let that stop you from reading it, because you get the same amount of action, death, and themes of what it means to be a clone. A team of the last surviving members of their own squad are sent to Qiilura to stop a Separatist Bioweapon aimed to kill all clones, created by Dr. Uthan under the protection of Ghez Hokan, a Mandalorian warlord who’s come to have strong feelings about the clones of the legendary Jango Fett. He also has a lightsaber; not the Dark Saber, that’s later. Aided by young Padawan Etain, this batch of clones must reach the city to destroy their brother killer before the doctor can finish it.
Also there’s romantic subplot between a clone and the…padawan. In his defence, he’s 10 like Cell from DBZ. Still weirded out…just up her age. Listen, it’s not even that important in the story but…it-it’s a good book.
Real talk, it’s not historically accurate, but it is historically bad@ss. In the time of the prohibition, when man and woman’s quench for booze has been stifled, Al Capone comes in to save the day, except for the fact that he’s a gang lord. With a crime spree infecting Chicago, leading to the death of a little girl, prohibition agent Eliot Ness is joined by a rag-tag team to find evidence of tax evasion to finally put Capone behind bars.
Brilliant acting, a suburb score by Ennio Morricone, and an amazing plot that’ll have you on the edge better than my bargain bin movie descriptions, this film is one of the greats and deserves a movie night by everyone. And yes, that means no love making.
The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly
Oh look, another movie Ennio made. I literally just watched the film last night and it holds up so well. Made in 1966, this film not only stacks up to modern films, it surpasses them. Now, there are two types of men: those who love the Italian western, and those who’s only heard of them. This film can be enjoyed by both. You dig what I’m saying?
During the Civil War, it is a time of western paradise. This is the story of 3 men after gold hidden in a graveyard: The Good “Blondie,” who’s honor lights up his more dubious morality, the Bad “Angel eyes,” a mercenary willing to do everything devious and malicious to be thorough in a mission, and the Ugly “Tuco,” a conniving sleezebag with a moral code. Each holds a clue to the gold, yet none of them trust or like each other. In a time of uncertainty, witness the brilliance of each actor as they go through some kind of west/south…desert…area to discover what the ecostasy of gold means. Whenever people say, “they don’t make movies like they used to,” its films like these that make me agree sometimes.