Preview: Star Wars Republic Commando (XB) Hands-On

Publisher: LucasArts / Developer: LucasArts / Genre: Action-FPS / Release Date: 03-01-05
LucasArts has been busy cross-promoting itself. If you thought that the movie Attack of the Clones and the forthcoming Episode III aren’t enough, Star Wars Republic Commando might be the thing to hit the spot. It takes place during the actual Clone Wars which is the time missing between the most recent two Star Wars movies. You are Jango Fett, a famed bounty hunter, and you’re set to go on many missions linked up with three other squad members. The interesting part about the game is your squad. It’s great that they all have unique abilities and personalities, but they’re also all clones of you. I thought to myself, “This would be interesting to play,” and as opportunistic as I am, I jumped at the released demo and became one with the clones.

You’re given a few seconds to get your bearings when the elevator opens and you’re told that you need to rendezvous with the rest of your squad. Somehow it’s not too surprising when you see a herd of army bots run across your vision when the elevator door opens. It is a war, after all. One robot turns to notice you and you find yourself blasting holes in all of them. Bot grease splatters on your helmet’s visor and an electronic windshield wiper swipes it away with a spiffy sound effect. You just so happen to take off a droid’s head and it spins aimlessly firing rounds and you are reminded of the term “chicken with its head cut off.” Directly from the beginning, it’s hard not to get caught up in the action.

After a few bouts of bot bashing you finally meet up with the rest of your squad. Sev is decked out in his red war paint that looks suspiciously like a bloody handprint. It’s acceptable because he’s the hunter and sniper of the group. Scorch is aptly named because he’s a pro at demolitions and his amor is colored yellow to likely represent all the beautiful fiery explosions he is capable of creating. Fixer is the green colored tech head that can slice into any computer’s security system to allow access to anywhere. And you, Jango, are just good at ordering everyone around. Even though this is a group of clones, there’s nothing cookie cutter about them.

As I was exploring the possibilities of game play, I found that you could get tactical and order your squad into numerous positions. You can also make a suicidal charge into the mix and let your team’s AI cover your tracks. All in all they’re pretty intuitive about what to shoot and where to go. Still, it’s a lot of fun ordering your squad around and seeing what smart remarks they may have in store for you.

The weapons also bring a great taste of variety into the forefront. While you may only have two guns you still have a huge range of possibilities. The DC-17 multifunction assault rifle is a beautiful tool. You’ve got your straight shooter and with the click of a button you can change it into a sniper rifle complete with hovering scope or a grenade launcher to blast a group of bots standing in your way. If worse comes to worse you can default to your little pistol to ping around with. The grenades themselves offer a fun set because your thermal grenades will frag anything organic, EMPs will short out the bots, proximities allow you to set traps and lure enemies into them, and flash bangs grant you the ability to confuse anyone standing in your way. If you want to be a real hero and melee with the enemy, you’ve got a giant retractable blade in your left fist. It’s perfect for those one-kill close-ups.

While the game has a lot of single player focus you do have the ability to bring everything into a multiplayer arena. On the Xbox you can play up to four split-screen or go for 16 people on X-box Live or on the internet for the PC. You can do single or team death matches or even capture the flag. (sound familiar?)

As I was playing this demo I began to think to myself that this game feels like a merger between Metroid Prime, Rainbow Six and Halo You’ve got the in-helmet monitoring systems of Metroid, the squad ordering capabilities of Rainbow Six and the multiplayer X-box Live like Halo. It sounds like LucasArts has been analyzing what’s been hot on the market. Regardless of marketing analysis, it was one powerful(but short) demo. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product this March since it has already gone gold.