Republic Commando is a 16-year old cult classic FPS that hasn’t aged a day outside of graphical fidelity, providing a Star War story worth reliving.
By the time Star Wars: Republic Commando released on Xbox and PC in 2005, fans of the franchise had a good idea of what to expect from prequel spin-offs. Therefore, it came as a shock when those who picked up Republic Commando received an excellent squad-based shooter that told a compelling story with interesting characters and engaging gameplay. Even 16 years later on Nintendo Switch, this cult classic FPS delivers as one of the best Star Wars stories told past 1983.
Players join the fight against the Trade Federation as Delta Squad leader RC-1138, otherwise known as Boss. The beginning of the game depicts the clone commando’s first moments on Kamino before going into his training and his meetup with his brothers in arms. After an impressively tight opening, Republic Commando is light on cutscenes, preferring to tell its story as missions unfold. The game also never breaks away from its first person perspective, letting the player immerse themselves in the conflict and the chaos of the scenarios Delta Squad endure over their years of wartime service. While Republic Commando doesn’t tell some epic tale that shakes the Star Wars universe to its core, it does make the Clone Wars feel vital to the prequel saga.
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Emerging in a golden era for first-person shooters across the industry, Republic Commando felt underappreciated at the time, with a standard similar to DOOM 3 and Half-Life 2 in terms of gameplay. The squad-based gameplay looks rather simplistic at first glance, but it shines in practice thanks to the smart AI of each member of Delta Squad. While the other clone commandos will accept orders whenever possible, the team also operates on their own as a player would expect. Computer-controlled clones can kill droids and Geonosians with ease, keep themselves healed, and move out of the way of fatal fire when necessary. Boss never feels like a one-man army, but one part of a four-man squad who need each other to survive.
Because of the nature of how clone troopers operate in Star Wars, weapon variety throughout each mission is less than ideal. Players can only really rely on their main blaster, which functions like a Halo assault rifle. There are a few attachments to make the weapon into a long-range sniper or a grenade launcher, but any other weapons are temporary pickups that offer fleeting moments of fun. Despite the lack of variety, the moment-to-moment gameplay shines thanks to missions throwing swarms of foes at Delta Squad, ensuring that each encounter requires a team of troops firing on all cylinders and making every moment feel like an intense battle for survival.
Republic Commando‘s Switch port also suffers because it doesn’t best the version of the game available on Xbox Series X via backward compatibility. Despite being a newer rerelease, the Switch version of this generations-old game runs at less than 60 FPS and completely removes the game’s multiplayer component. The meat of the game does lie in the campaign, and it is completely playable on Nintendo’s console for those who take it on the go, but it’s not the version to play at home. The Xbox release is cheaper at time of writing and features significant performance enhancements over the Switch, so that’s the version to seek out if possible.
The main takeaway from Star Wars: Republic Commando‘s rerelease is that this game is a great addition to Switch in spite of its flaws. Even players who don’t consider themselves Star Wars fans will find a lot to like in this sci-fi war story. The squad gameplay was ahead of its time and still excels today alongside the excellent AI. The most obvious element that’s aged about this game is its graphics, and that annoyance fades quickly once the lasers start flying. Republic Commando was one of the best Star Wars games of its time when it arrived in 2005, and despite over 16 years passing since then, it remains a captivating and engaging title in 2021.
Next: Star Wars: 5 Things Republic Commando Needs To Update (& 5 Best Parts Of The Game)
Star Wars: Republic Commando is available now on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The game is also available as an Xbox Original on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S via backward compatibility. Screen Rant was provided a Switch copy of the game for the purposes of this review.
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