Review: Star Wars Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike (Nintendo Gamecube)

Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike
Genre: Space/Arcade
Platform: Gamecube
2 players
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Factor Five

Plot

Rebel Strike is another game set in that galaxy far far away, focusing on the exploits of Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles as they struggle valiantly to free the galaxy from oppression. Taking a page from Jedi Academy, the story isn’t told in a linear fashion. Instead, you can play through Luke’s stories or Wedge’s stories. Additionally, a number of battles from the movies such as the speeder bike chase or what happened to the Rebel Base on Yavin after the first movie cam be opened up. These missions take place both in the cockpit of a Starfighter as well as on foot…with mixed results.

The problem with the plot of the game is this: The movies have been all but tapped out for story. Instead of going back and whipping the dead horse that was the original trilogy, they could have gone and broken new ground by taking players to battles where they haven’t been before. Battles like those that occur in the Rogue Squadron novels. I can say that I am now completely sick of Hoth, and I never want to see it appear in another Rogue game again. Even when they do add to the story, like in many of Wedge’s missions, there is a lack of creativity. They look gorgeous…but they feel like they’ve been done before.

Plot Score: 6

Graphics

As mentioned above, many if not all of the missions look stunning. I feel it’s safe to say that the fighters and starships look at least as good if not better than their movie counterparts. And really, what more can you ask of a game than that? In the previous game, Rogue Leader, the mission you pointed at when you wanted to show off just how good the Gamecube could be when used right was the Battle of Endor, or the Isor Corridor. No other levels showed the power of the cube, as you fought a desperate fight against wave after wave of tie fighters. Well, in this game that level is once again on Endor, but this time it’s the speederbike mission. As you race through the forest at blinding speeds, you might stop and wonder how you aren’t crashing…and then you will. It’s an awesome level, based on a really cool scene in Return of the Jedi.

While the graphics for the vehicles look beyond superb, the same cannot be said for the characters you control while doing the on foot portion of the game. Essentially the character you’ve been controlling to select your fighter while in the hanger is the same one used to run around the different stages of the game. The characters look stiff and move stiffly, as though they were designed for a game 2 years ago…like Rogue Leader. The worst level of the game is Luke’s jedi training on Dagobah. Whether Factor Five was trying to replicate the enjoyment of the old Super Star Wars games for the Super Nintendo is unclear. What IS clear is just how poorly the attempt fails.

Graphics Score: 8

Sound

Picking up where Rogue Leader left off, the sound in Rebel Strike is quite good for the most part. Sound effects are of course, awesome. Listen as you hit the turbo boost on the Speeder bike, or hit the breaks. Music, while not from the John Williams score for the most part, is better than average. Rogue Squadron seems to have it’s own theme song now, as the same music has been used for at least 2 games now. Voice work is usually good, but using sound alikes for some of the most famous characters ever filmed isn’t always a good idea.

Sound Score: 7

Control

According to LucasArts, roughly 20% of Rebel Strike’s single player game is on foot. Therefore, 20% of the control in this game sucks. It’s really as simple as that. Take away the on foot missions, and this game controls like you are there…almost. The missions where you drive an
AT-ST are fun and pleasant, not at all difficult to figure out. Speeder bike missions are few in number and hard to complete, but this is more a matter of timing than the controls. All of the various fighters perform as they should, A-Wings are fast but weak, Y-Wings are slow but powerful, etc. On foot however, the game is mushy, slow, and would just be better off left on the cutting room floor.

Control Score: 7

Replayability

If Factor Five didn’t include the entire Rogue Leader as a 2 player co-op game, and include various multiplayer modes, the replayability of Rebel Strike probably wouldn’t rate that highly. I mean, earning medals to open up new stages is cool and all, and earning better medals to unlock cooler starfighters can be fun, but unless you’re really into Star Wars, you probably wouldn’t see the point. Thankfully though, they did go to the trouble of including Rogue Leader, and the multiplayer options. Craft you open up in the single player game are useable in multiplayer. And Multiplayer is very fun indeed. Playmodes like Rampage allow you to destroy as many Tie Fighters or Walkers as you can, in a race against your buddy to see who’s got the better skills. Or, if you can no longer contain your desire to blast your friend into space dust, choose the vs. mode and select your craft, it’s a duel at 10 paces. While the split screen does hamper things a little, the standard gameplay of the Rogue Squadron games, with it’s limited 3D world feels right at home in the constraints of the split screen. Your opponent will never be too far up or down, eliminating the need to hunt endlessly when your radar say’s he’s right freakin there.

Frankly, the multiplayer is the main reason to own Rebel Strike, and it’s the only reason to keep it.

Replayability: 9

Balance

Ah, Balance, the let’s make it ten so we can easily divide the score stat. Well, for Rebel Leader, theres a Balance to the game, just like theres a balance to the Force. Good: Graphics. Bad: Ease of game. Good: Multiplayer. Bad: Singleplayer on foot. Good: Unlockable 80’s arcade games. Bad: Uninspired missions.

Balance Score: 5

Originality

Ok, the recipe for Rogue Squadron has always been give the fans a taste of what it would be like to be flying in those fantastic battles from the movies, then give them a taste of the story outside the movies. Keep the action fast, and reward excellent flying with better medals which unlock better prizes. The first two Rogue games got it right. An argument could be made that after Rogue Leader the well was dry movie wise. Clearly this was the case. The starfighter missions have all been done. While many of the levels would feel new and exciting with a new control scheme, as the game stands now it’s just more of the same. Worse, it’s not even the same, as the levels aren’t as good as Rogue Leader’s were. I applaud the decision to say we need something new, something different. I just don’t think the on foot missions were given enough time. In fact, even though the game had far more developmental time that Rogue Leader, Rebel Strike feels like it was rushed at points. Each and every level where you must head out on foot just feels wrong. As though the gameplay doesn’t match the beauty of the graphics.

Originality Score: 4

Addictiveness

If Rogue Leader was at the Heroin level of addictiveness, then Rebel Strike is at the mashed potatoe level. Veteran players who played Rogue Leader even after conquering it will breeze through Rebel Strike in a day or two. In fact the only real reason you’d be anywhere near addicted to this game is if you and a buddy happen to like seeing who can kill the most Tie Fighters in a rampage.

Addictiveness Score: 6

Appeal Factor

Given the fact that this is Star Wars, and it’s a Rogue Squadron game, if you have enjoy the previous games at all you will still find some moments of joy in Rebel Strike. Escorting the transport ships off of Hoth is one example of a mission that is quite appealing. On the flip side, you have running Luke through his Jedi Training on Dagobah, which is quite appalling. If you enjoyed the previous games, give this a rental. If you enjoy starfighter games in general, give this one a rent. If however you have been looking for a game to draw you into the awesome gameplay of the Rogue Squadron series, go buy Rogue Leader. In that you will find the feeling of being in the movies that is lost on Rebel Strike.

Appeal Score: 6

Miscellaneous

I am of two minds about Rebel Strike. On the one hand, I think it’s obvious that if they weren’t going to do a game based on the novels, then the material to work with for the Rogues has been all tapped out. The need to do something different, to fill in the rest of the game, is exposed when you remove the levels where you are on foot. Could they have included more levels? Perhaps made you run down the Deathstar trench one more time? Sure. Would you have enjoyed it? No more than Rogue Leader, and perhaps less so since you’ve done it all before. So I agree with the descision to add the levels outside the cockpit. They add more flavour to the story, give you a glimpse of what might have been.

On the other hand, just because they needed to make the game longer, to fill in the gaps as it were, is no excuse to give us the missions on foot that weren’t nearly ready for prime time. Dagobah is a disgrace, a reminder from a dark time in LucasArts games where the only shining beacon of a GOOD Star Wars game on a console was Rogue Squadron for the N-64. What’s even worse, they decided to make many of the levels both flying and on foot. Take Relics of Geonosis, what could have been a cool asteroid field level, ruined by the desire to put you on the ground in the middle of the mission and make you attack hordes of Storm Troopers and Battle Droids. And that’s not even Luke, with his Jedi powers and lightsabre. That’s WEDGE! He of the no force powers just really good flying skills. And why? Just to get you to the Jedi Starfighter Obi Wan presumably forgot to pick up after he got rescued during Episode 2? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the Jedi to recover the Jedi Starfighter?

Miscellaneous Score: 5

Plot Score: 6
Graphics Score: 8
Sound Score: 7
Control Score: 7
Replayability Score: 9
Balance Score: 5
Originality Score: 4
Addictiveness Score: 6
Appeal Score: 6
Miscellaneous Score: 5

Short Attention Span Summary
In the end, Rebel Strike is just a game from a series that went to the same well one too many times. Ignore the on foot missions and you have a decent game that if nothing else is worth a rental. Either Factor Five and LucasArts retire the Rogue Squadron series, or they venture into the stories from the books.