Growing up, I loved Star Wars Battlefront II and its predecessor. It probably still ranks in my top 3 games of all time. But I’d actually never played Republic Commando until this year, despite knowing it was another iconic Star Wars shooter from the same era. Now that I’ve played it, I can 100% see what all the hype was about.
The first thing you’ll notice while playing through is how modern the game feels. The controls are crisp, the sound design and lighting are immersive, and there’s a surprisingly-high emphasis on environmental storytelling. The campaigns are full of memorable set pieces and the ambient/battle music dynamically changes to suit what’s happening in-game. When you brutally murder something close-up, your visor gets splashed with blood/oil for a second before a self-cleaning wiper restores your vision. It’s a visceral experience that brings the combat to life around your squad.
Despite being faceless clones of each other, the devs put a ton of time into giving each of your squad mates a unique personality and memorable appearance. Their radio chatter is great and you’ll find yourself developing a strong rapport with them. The game’s heavy emphasis on ordering them around only enhances this. There are tons of different ways to delegate battlefield tactics yet it all comes naturally after just a little experience. This is truly one of the best first-person squad-commanding games I’ve ever played.
Of course, that’s not to say the player character can’t kick incredible amounts of ass himself. The weapons have a great punch to them and all of them fill valuable roles in your arsenal. (Except the emergency pistol.) Since ammo pickups replenish 100% of a given ammo, you’re encouraged to chew through it with reckless abandon. You never need to “save the good stuff for later,” which massively contributes to the experience.
I like how your gun comes with three baked-in modes (rifle, sniper, grenade launcher) that you always have access to. And then you get a bonus slot for enemy weapons you scavenge off the ground. From shotguns, SMGs, and portable miniguns to Wookie Bowcasters and Geonosian plasma cannons, the bonus weapons round out your arsenal and give each campaign a unique indentity. Most of them came with unique melee attacks as well. Such as the Trandoshan concussion rifle which stuns your hapless victim.
I’m sure it’s obvious by now that I highly recommend this old gem. It’s a straightforward shooter that nonetheless brings some unique gameplay focuses to the table, and it does them well. The devs clearly loved their work; there are bonus “behind the scenes” content you can unlock by completing each campaign. And you’ll admittedly finish them all within like 2-3 gameplay sessions because the game is pretty short. But this is all the more reason to experience the ride.