Back in 2005, the original Xbox was quickly establishing itself as a must-have console. Halo 2 had released the prior year and was instantly regarded as one of the best FPS of all time. However, an unexpected dark horse arrived on the Xbox which not only made an impact but left a lasting impression for years to come. LucasArts Star Wars: Republic Commando was a tactical squad-based FPS in the Star Wars universe.
Just reading that description sounds badass and thankfully the game delivered. Star Wars: Republic Commando had an engaging story, unique environments filled with a variety of enemies alongside some new and familiar characters from the Star Wars universe, multiplayer mode, and an easy-to-play gameplay mechanic. Republic Commando was the total package. Fans of the franchised loved it, critics praised it, and then…POOF! it disappeared.
Fast forward to 2021 and we see the return of Star Wars: Republic Commando published and developed by Aspyr, the team behind other notable Star Wars re-released titles such as STAR WARS™ Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast, STAR WARS™ Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, and STAR WARS™ Episode I Racer. If you played any of these titles then you know they are pretty much direct ports and not remasters or enhanced versions. The same also now applies to Star Wars: Republic Commando.
In Star Wars: Republic Commando, you play as elite clone trooper commander RC-1138 “Boss”, a straight to the point no BS leader of “DELTA squad”. RC-1262 (“Scorch”), RC-1140 “Fixer” and RC-1207 “Sev”. Each member of the DELTA squad fellow clone troopers has their own individual character traits. You would think that since they are all clones we would hear nothing but “yes sir” responses but this is not the case. In fact, while listening to all the squad members banter, I quickly forgot they were clones early on in the 8 to 9-hour campaign. Once released from the clone factory on Kamino, the prime objective is to help the republic army win the clone wars. DELTA will have to travel to multiple planets, perform various tasks such as assassinations, sabotage enemy equipment and annihilate everything in sight with strategic finesse.
Star Wars: Republic Commando has a well-written story that will keep you engaged, however, this is not what made this title a cult classic. The shining point is the simplistic squad control mechanics. Holding down the (A) button will bring up a command window which can be issued by pressing the associated key on the D-pad
• UP – Secure Area
• LEFT – Search And Destroy (my favorite command)
• RIGHT – Form up
• DOWN – Cancel maneuver
Simply tapping (A) while looking down your weapon’s sight will issue some quick commands such as breach a door, hack a terminal or focus on a key enemy target. If you are downed you can call for help and a squad member will come to revive you. You can provide the same service to fallen squad members and if there is a health station, you can command them to heal up by pointing at it and pressing (A). As I stated, the controls are extremely simple, and at no point will you feel lost or not sure what to activate. Your objective is always displayed above your visor view. The overall control layout may feel a bit dated but if you go to options you’ll find there are 4 different control schemes to choose from. Unfortunately, there are no gyro controls.
The audio score to Star Wars: Republic Commando sounds like a Star Wars game should. Large orchestral pieces with intense movements that coincide with the story. The same can also be said for the weapon fire, exploding clones, and ambient sound effects. Everything sounds like it should which for those purists is a good thing.
The one major disappointment for me is since this is a port the graphics definitely looks outdated, and it’s to be expected since it’s over 15 years old but it’s a shame there is no upscaling or performance-boosting occurring since the game is now running on newer hardware. This is no fault of the developers since it would have required upgrading the unreal engine that Republic Commando is built on and this was not their task. Honestly, I feel a classic such as this deserves the remaster treatment. It’s also worth mentioning the multiplayer mode has been removed from this port.
Star Wars: Republic Commando was and still is a classic. If you loved the original release then you will still love this port. If you’re on the younger side and missed the original release, this is also worth a play but keep in mind that the game does look dated. The overall performance was fine with minor frame rate drops depending on what was happening on screen but nothing was game-breaking. The game also has little to no load time which was great. Overall, Star Wars: Republic Commando is a solid port of a classic title. I would just have preferred to receive a remastered version.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Star Wars: Republic Commando for the Nintendo Switch provided by Aspyr.