Old 3D games like Star Wars: Republic Commando deserve full remasters, as rereleasing their original graphics in HD doesn’t do them justice today.
Players on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 are getting another chance to experience the Clone Wars firsthand with Star Wars: Republic Commando. Released on Xbox and PC in 2005 at the tail end of its console generation, this squad-based FPS isn’t just another franchise tie-in, with gameplay and story chops to stand alongside other great shooters of its era. Unfortunately, the new Republic Commando port is only a high-resolution rerelease. If any Star Wars game deserves a ground-up remaster to give it a new coat of paint, it’s this one.
Likely due to the nature of dealing with licensors years after a game’s release, games like Star Wars: Republic Commando typically don’t end up with any sort of rereleases, much less full graphical overhauls. From Home Improvement to Chester Cheetah, there are dozens of 16 bit-era platformers alone that will likely never see the light of day again. Old Star Wars games are luckier, seeing plenty of rereleases in the age of the Disney sequels and The Mandalorian‘s popularity. Even so, these are usually just ports rather than truly reimagined, modern updates.
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Many games with early 3D graphics continue to age about as well as the digital Dwayne Johnson from The Mummy Returns. Because of this, younger Star Wars fans may not be able to look past Republic Commando‘s dated art style (or that of other, similar titles) to experience quality games of the early 2000s.
Why Remastering Games Like Republic Commando Is Important
While full-on remakes can come at the expense of the original games’ artistic intent, the remastering work of studios like Bluepoint Games and Digital Eclipse – with new textures, character models, and HD visuals – can simply make old games more palatable to new audiences. As long as the developer in charge of the redo respects the way the game originally functioned, younger players can get a renewed experience from older release, and veterans can get a quality recreation of something they loved.
Microsoft’s work on the anniversary remasters for the first two Halo games is a great example for other studios to follow. Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 now have upgraded versions that can more easily stand the test of time, and the original releases are just a button press away. Ideally, all remasters of this type could easily present both versions for historical context, but it’s arguable that the graphical upgrade would be worth it, even if that’s not possible. In the worst-case scenario, the original version of a game like Star Wars: Republic Commando is still available on older systems.
Waiting too long to rerelease or remaster a game can also sometimes lead to disaster. The infamous Silent Hill HD Collection featured many problems, as missing source code forced the developer to recreate large chunks of the horror classics. Time is the enemy of video game preservation, but remasters can let publishers turn preservation into profit by capitalizing on nostalgia for the early HD era.
Even without a full graphical overhaul, the Star Wars: Republic Commando rerelease showcases how great older titles can still be in 2021. Not every game on the original Xbox is worth a deep dive, but there were many classic games released on the Microsoft system, along with its GameCube and PlayStation 2 contemporaries. It was a fruitful age full of hidden gems, and the aging technology of that time makes these games hard to go back to, unless developers put in the work to really make them shine.
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