Republic Commando is back!

Republic Commando is back, although to many it never left. Such is the impression this game left on many including myself all the way back in 2005, at the time it was easily the second best Star Wars game ever released (The best being KotoR) and I’d argue it still is.

I’ve often been heard preaching the virtue of this game and you can finally play it “remastered” on PS4 and Nintendo Switch. 

Does anything say special forces more than a rappel into action?

With the Disney acquisition of Lucas Film and the realignment of the Star Wars cannon many a fan could be heard grumbling…me, I didn’t mind, expect for Republic Commando. Now while the squad themselves remained cannon (thanks to an appearance in the Clone Wars series) but the adventure of the game did not. 

This was odd as is still had a burning rage directed at Yoda (you’ll see why if you play it) but the cause for said rage no longer existed. It was a weird time for us all.

The game opens with a brilliantly disguised exposition dump as your player character is ‘born’ and your role in galaxy is related to you by a Kaminoan scientist and you’re treated to an 80’s style training montage before being thrust into battle on Geonosis.  

Making your way through a Geonosian droid factory, executing squad commands and slaughtering every clanker (droid) and bug in sight makes you feel every bit the special forces team that Delta Squad are. In fact, effective use of squad commands can have you running rough shot through the game, in any other game this may be a problem. However, in republic commando it serves to really set the commandos apart from their rank and file brethren.

It’s not all plain sailing though, losing all your health isn’t a game over straight away, you’ll become downed (now a familiar occurrence in modern day gaming) and you you’re presented to with 3 options. The super boring “Reload last autosave”,  Recall and Revive which basically cancels all current orders and has Delta Squad battle their way to you and attempt to revive you (you can also revive them or order a squad-mate to do so) and the final option “Maintain current orders”. You’d be forgiven for thinking given the age of the game that “Maintain Current Orders” would be a waste of time but surprisingly it isn’t. Della squad are remarkably effective without you, not only that issuing this order is often meet by some great dialogue, my personal favourite being Sev saying “Hold on to your guts, while I rip out theirs”.

Issuing squad commands are simple and extremely well implemented especially given the age of the game. Say for instance you’ve ordered Sev to take up a sniping position (something Sev isn’t shy about sharing his enjoyment for) but he takes damage during the ensuing battle, all you need do is look at a Bacta station (a medkit station for the none Star Wars nerds reading) press the A button and sorted, Sev leaves is sniper position and heals himself up. 

All squad commands are simple to execute and they range from slicing (hacking) a door to focusing fire on a particular enemy and even manning a turret. It’s simplicity should be praised as without having to memorise multiple button combinations you can just issue your orders and get on with the mission. It’s simplicity also makes Delta Squad feel like the highly trained force they are meant to be.

Speaking of the mission, the missions you’ll carry out all have a very spec ops feel to them, every level has Delta Squads efforts focused on tipping odds of the large scale assault on Geonsis (as seen at the end of Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones) in the Republics favour.

The classic visor wipe!

The games focused approach really helps you feel like you’re actually accomplishing something, far too often Star Wars games are obsessed with zipping you around the galaxy for no other reason than ‘Oh look that place from the movie” fan service. Thankfully Republic Commandos locations are focused purely around the military campaign you and your brothers are engaged in. 

That’s not to say Star Wars Republic Commando is entirely free of fan service, some very familiar and well known characters will pop up during the game. One of these characters falls within sniper range at one point but no matter how many times you pull the trigger you’re unable to alter the fate of that particular enemy of the Republic. 

So at this point you’re probably reaching for your Switch to download this gem of Star Wars gaming history, but perhaps it’s worth holding fire for a moment. The gameplay,the story and the characters and second to none (well, aside from KOTOR) but from a technical standpoint the Switch version of the game is a tough experience.

Sev was and still is my favourite member of Delta Squad.

I’m fortunate enough to own a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and thank the maker I do, like almost FPS games on Switch it’s so uncomfortable to play in handheld mode. It’s not just issues with comfort either. 

The frame rate stutters almost anytime there’s an explosion on screen or more than 5 foes dare attack delta squad at once, which really ruins your enjoyment of the game. Fantastic attack animations as your Squad execute both bug and droid alike are ruined in a jumble of frames. Visually the game isn’t much to look at either, not when compared to other rereleases from the same era. 

In fact so jarring were the games visual issues that I decided to load the game up on my Xbox Series X to see if I were guilty of wearing nostalgia goggles. Short lived was this curiosity, the XBSX version of the game running via backwards compatibility not only has a frame rate boost it also uses HDR. The difference in performance was astounding. I’m of course aware that the series X is a much more powerful unit compared to the Nintendo Switch but it’s difficult to recommend picking up the Switch version of the game given the technical issues (apparently a patch is en route for the game that should help address these issues).

To sum up this really was an experience of two halves, everything about the game that I fondly remember is still there and its every bit as fantastic as it was back in the day. So good that it may just be worth suffering through the technical issues. In all honesty though, while I think every Star Wars fan needs to play Star Wars Republic Commando, they should probably do so on anything other than the Switch.