As the recent Resident Evil remakes have shown so clearly, bringing an old game to new systems really only works when you update them as well. One has only to play the excellent revamps of Resident Evil 2 or Resident Evil 3, and then the faithful failure that is Resident Evil (HD Remaster) to see what to do, and what not to do, when bringing back an old favorite. Which makes the new version of 2005’s Star Wars: Republic Commando (PlayStation 4, Switch) such an odd duck, as this sci-fi first-person shooter has gotten an upgrade…just not enough of one.
Set between the Attack On Geonosis…
at the end of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack Of The Clones and the battle on Kashyyk towards the close of Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, Star Wars: Republic Commando casts you Delta-38, the leader of Delta Squad, a four-man team of clone trooper commandos. Starting with your formation during the battle of Geonosis, the game follows your team as you make your way through the Clone Wars, ultimately coming to the aid of Yoda and the Wookiees on Kashyyk.
As for the gameplay, while this is a sci-fi first-person shooter, it’s closer to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas and its sequel than any F.P.S. released the last few years. And not just because of the visuals. While you do, of course, shoot aliens and droids from the first-person perspective, you also issue commands to your squadmates. And not just things like, “shoot that person” or “move here,” but more involved and imperative actions like “set this explosive charge” or “hack this terminal.”
You can even get healed by a teammate when injured, as well as heal your downed comrades, or command a coworker use a nearby bacta dispenser when you’re busy busting up some clankers. Though it is odd that you also have to tell injured comrades to get some bacta, or to help their fellow soldiers — you included — as opposed to them just doing it on their own.
Otherwise, though, Star Wars: Republic Commando plays exactly like you’d expect a first-person shooter set in a galaxy far, far away to play. You get into gunfights with familiar faces and in familiar places, using blasters and thermal detonators to take them out and destroy their stuff, while using one of the many handy bacta dispensers when you get injured.
Also, it should be noted that unlike Stormtroopers, Clone Troopers can actually hit the side of the barn.
Now, for people looking for a faithful recreation of the game they played sixteen years ago, sorry, Star Wars: Republic Commando has been somewhat revamped. While the graphics are the same, they’re now in HD, and the movement controls have been somewhat modernized as well.
the operative word in that last sentence is “somewhat.” While the movement controls in Star Wars: Republic Commando are indeed smoother in this remake than they were in the original, the way the controls are configured has not, sadly, been updated as well. Specifically, you can’t use the left trigger to look down the barrel of your blaster for added accuracy. Which also means you don’t have the option of using an aim assist.
Some of the other buttons are also mapped differently than they would be if this game was made this year and not a long time ago. Smacking someone with the butt of your gun, or jabbing them with your wrist-mounted blade, isn’t done by pressing in the right thumbstick, while the jump button isn’t the “A” button on Xbox or the “X” button on PlayStation.
In other words, this isn’t a Star Wars: Republic Commando version of Star Wars: Battlefront II.
Now, the game does give you the option of remapping controls, which means you can move the “zoom” to the left thumbstick. But it’s not the same thing. Also, since you can’t remap the direction buttons, there aren’t enough buttons for everything you’ll want to do.
That said — as is so often the case in these situations — most people will get used to the retro controls after a bit. But it’s still annoying that they didn’t just upgrade them to begin with.
Sadly, the lack of iron sights isn’t the only vintage irritation they didn’t correct in the remake of Star Wars: Republic Commando. While the on-screen text is of a decent size — and how sad is it that that’s ever an issue — the subtitles are in yellow, which often makes them difficult, even impossible to read when the background if of a similarly light color.
It also would’ve been nice if they had upgraded the audio to modern standards. It sounds like it was recorded on a cassette recorder that was held up next to the speaker of an old TV. I’m sure if they asked him nicely that actor Temuera Morrison, who did the voice of the clones in the movies, would’ve been happy to rerecord his lines. Heck, they could’ve even gotten Dee Bradley Baker, who did their voices in the Clone Wars cartoon and the video games Clone Wars: Republic Heroes and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars — and will be doing them again in the new ‘toon, Star Wars: The Bad Batch — and it would’ve been a big improvement.
It also doesn’t help that some of your enemies in Star Wars: Republic Commando aren’t terribly bright. Granted, the regular Battle Droids weren’t that smart in the movies or cartoons, so it makes sense that they’d be mere fodder here, too. But the larger Super Battle Droids, who were much better soldiers in the films and on TV, are just as bad at their jobs in this game as their smaller cousins. In one early scene, a Super Battle Droid wandered around the room like it had a bad motivator and had no interest in defending itself against the Clone Troopers who were shooting it repeatedly.
The loading points in Star Wars: Republic Commando are also rather awkwardly placed. On more than one occasion the game paused to load a new area while a character was providing some much-needed exposition.
Even more annoying, Star Wars: Republic Commando is one of those games in which you don’t get a cutscene showing the results of what you’ve done. In the first mission, for instance, you take down a Battle Droid station. But rather than show you the resulting explosion that comes from a job well done, the game instead jumps to the next mission.
And yet, even with all of these issues,
Star Wars: Republic Commando still has a lot to offer…though mostly if you still like old school sci-fi first-person shooters. Sure, it’s not the total revamp fans might’ve wanted, but it’s also not the retro disaster we feared it might’ve been, either.