“All right squad. Let’s get in there and start breaking things.” –Boss
Delta Squad is deployed to Geonosis to carry out a special assignment: assassinate Geonosian leader Sun Fac. Unlike standard clones, Delta Squad was created to be superior and undertake the toughest of missions. After taking out Sun Fac, Delta Squad sabotages a droid factory, destroys an anti-air weapon system and boards a Trade Federation Core Ship to steal launch codes. A year into the Clone Wars, Delta Squad is deployed to investigate the abandoned Prosecutor, a Acclamator-class Republic assault carrier. They find Trandoshan mercenaries on board and learn that the Trandoshans intend to sell the ship. Fighting their way through mercenaries and droids alike, Delta Squad manages to reach the gunnery deck and bring the Prosecutor’s turbo-lasers online, just in time to destroy a Trade Federation vessel. Towards the end of the Clone Wars, Delta is sent to Kashyyyk, where they rescue the Wookie commander, Tarfful, from Trandoshan slavers. When intelligence suggests that General Grievous himself is on Kashyyyk, Delta Force is tasked with capturing him. While successfully rescuing Tarfful, Grievous escapes. As they continue to fight through Kashyyyk, securing strategic points and destroying Separatist assets, Delta is sent to activate anti-air weapons to destroy a Separatist vessel overhead. Delta Squad loses one of their number, but the remaining three evacuate and prepare to embark on their next mission. Released in 2005 for PC and Xbox, Star Wars: Republic Commando is a first-person shooter that explores a side of the Clone Wars with a group of Commando clones that would, in time, become renowned for their combat prowess and distinct personalities in the Star Wars universe. In reality, the serious storyline and focus on soldiers, rather than Jedi, made Republic Commando a unique entry amongst Star Wars video games: from a story perspective, Republic Commando‘s focus on an elite squad of clone soldiers really gave a sense of scale regarding how large the Clone Wars had been, and during missions, conversations breathe further insight into each of Scorch, Fixer and Sev’s personalities, as well as the nature of the war they’re fighting.
While Republic Commando‘s campaign is counted as being short, the gameplay itself is mechanically solid. Numerous features and design choices made Republic Commando particularly stand-out: the game limits players to the DC-15s blaster pistol and DC-17m Interchangeable Weapons System (ICWS) that could be reconfigured on the fly to suit whatever the combat situation demanded, along with one additional weapon. The DC-17m, in particular, is an excellent weapon. In its blaster configuration, the weapon acts as a standard assault rifle, with a high rate of fire that made it effective in close to medium range combat. After players acquire the sniper attachment, the DC-17m could be reconfigured to engage distant targets with high accuracy. The anti-armour attachment provided a commando with anti-vehicular grenades that, while capable of damaging armour, also dealt explosive damage that made it useful for neutralising crowds. Altogether, the DC-17m ensured that clone commandos were ready for everything thrown at them, and in practise, having a pair of reliable weapons around meant that players were always assured of being able to deal with whatever threats awaited them on a mission: ammunition for the DC-17m’s blaster is common, and in the event of an emergency, the DC-15s and its self-recharging battery ensured one was never caught unarmed. Together with the tactical commands, which allow players to send Delta Squad’s members to carry out certain functions, one can create more favourable situations. One can send a squad mate to arm and detonate explosives in the middle of a fire fight while I focus on the enemies, or send them to provide covering fire from a sniper’s perch. Squad mates can also revive one another, as well as the player: this has proven to be an immensely valuable function, allowing me to walk off a bad fire fight. The sense of camaraderie and teamwork amongst Delta Squad is apparent, and this translates elegantly into the gameplay.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Right out of the gates, Republic Commando impresses with its soundtrack: Vode An is an original piece sung entirely in Mandalorian, a grim-sounding piece that sets the tone for the entire game. The first mission is set on Geonosis, the starting point for the Clone Wars. This creates a sense of familiarity, as players get to experience the Battle of Geonosis here for themselves. Early on, Delta Squad fights Separatist B-1 Battle Droids, and while they’re a ways more durable than seen in Star Wars, where a single blaster bolt could neutralise one, they’re still weak enemies that can be picked apart by the DC-17m.
- Visually, Republic Commando is dated, but it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see oneself as blasting one’s way through armies of Separatist droids. Here on my HUD, my squadmates have joined the party. Besides being able to offer assistance in particularly difficult segments of the game (especially reviving the player), listening to their dialogue is hilarious: Delta Squad might be special forces, but the clones are still individuals with their own personalities.
- With its dynamic recharging battery, the DC-15s pistol is a sidearm that players always have access to. Capable of firing seven shots before its power depletes, the DC-15s’ greatest ability is that the battery recharges over time, and one effectively has infinite ammunition for the pistol. While each shot is individually weak, the weapon still provides some ranged firepower for situations where one runs out of ammunition for the DC-17m’s blaster attachment. Delta Squad also has access to a wrist-mounted blade for melee attacks.
- Altogether, Republic Commando‘s gunplay is solid, and the mechanics are involved enough to demand some skill from players. One of the things I had to be mindful of was the health of each member in Delta Squad: each squad member have access to a recharging energy shield, and beneath this is a layer of health which can only be replenished at Bacta stations. It takes some time for every one to top off, and players must manually instruct the squad to heal up.
- Making bad decisions with respect to healing can prove disastrous in Republic Commando‘s trickier sections, as all of one’s squad mates are downed by heavy enemy fire, so I quickly developed a habit of ensuring everyone healed before moving onto the next area. With this being said, Delta Squad is tough, and having them around livened up missions considerably, with their amusing banter to keep things fresh in between firefights.
- There are a few instances where Delta Squad will encounter particularly tough enemies: here, I deplete my anti-armour grenades on a spider droid and would switch over to the sniper rifle in an attempt to hit the droid’s weak-spot. One feature in Republic Commando that proved particularly helpful was the ability to order squad-mates to focus fire on a target. For the Super Battle Droids, Droidekas and mini-bosses, focused fire would
- Here, I’ve equipped the sniper rifle attachment with the aim of sniping the spider droid’s weak spot. The ammunition for each of the DC-17m’s modes are not universal, so one can only pick up blaster ammunition for the blaster attachment, sniper ammunition for the sniper attachment and grenades for the anti-armour attachment. In general, the blaster attachment will get one through most situations, and throughout Republic Commando, there are a variety of grenades that can also be used. Unsurprisingly, the best choice is EMP grenades, which swiftly disable even the toughest droids.
- The final segment of the Geonosis mission has Delta Squad boarding a Trade Federation core ship to access the bridge and obtain launch codes. One of the joys of Republic Commando, then, was being able to visit locations that the movies would never bring viewers to: George Lucas’ visions of Star Wars entail vast constructs, and it simply wouldn’t be possible to visit all of these areas during the course of a movie. Books like Incredible Cross Sections offered some insight into the cavernous interiors of the capital ships in Star Wars, but this is most apparent as players walk through the halls and hangars themselves in games like Republic Commando.
- Owing to the rendering techniques and hardware capabilities of the time, the interiors of buildings of games from this period all have a “Bond Villain” feel to it, characterised by smooth, concrete-looking floors and repeating elements in the architecture. In retrospect, 007 games were an excellent choice for hardware of the early 2000s: featuring fanciful lairs and the like, the limitations of older hardware left some elements to the imagination, and this really allowed James Bond games to create exciting stories. Games like Agent Under Fire, Nightfire, Everything or Nothing and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent all had exotic locations in their setting.
- As hardware improved, James Bond games became less inspired. Activision eventually took on Bond games, turning a once-great series into Call of Duty knockoffs. Unsurprisingly, these games were poorly received. It’s now been some eight years since the last James Bond game: the failed 007: Legends, whose performance was so abysmal that all Activision Bond games were removed from Steam. There is supposedly a new 007 game in the works, but the age of Bond shooters is long past now. Back in Republic Commando, after downloading the launch codes, it’s time to disembark from the Trade Federation Core Ship, bringing the first segment of Republic Commando to an end.
- The second act of Republic Commando is set inside the Prosecutor, a Acclamator-class assault transport manufactured by Kuat Drive Yards first seen at the end of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Here, they deployed clones to the surface of Geonosis, marking the start of the Clone Wars. By this point in time in Republic Commando, it’s been a year since the events of Geonosis, and Delta Squad is sent to investigate the Prosecutor, which also happens to be the vessel that Delta Squad was based out of. Upon boarding, the vessel is eerily dark and uninhabited.
- The dagger-shaped Acclamator-class vessels were the predecessors to the Venator-class capital ships, the latter of which were built for a multi-role combat in anti-ship engagement, as well as transport functions. The Acclamator-class vessels were 752 metres in length and could hold up to 16000 clones. With its vast bay doors, it could unload entire brigades on short order, and possessed enough firepower to engage Separatist ships. During the Battle of Geonosis, Acclamator-class ships proved effective on the ground, although a lack of initial coordination in space allowed the Separatists to escape with their droid armies.
- As with the interior of a Trade Federation Core Ship, the Acclamator-class vessels are not shown in too much details in the Star Wars movies, and as such, Republic Commando offers a chance to explore the interior of such a ship. Republic vessels have a much cleaner feel to them compared to the primitive designs of Geonosian architecture, and lack the Nemodians’ more ostentatious designs. In Republic Commando, despite the graphics not allowing the game to fully portray all of the nuances in Star Wars interior design, the game still manages to successfully convey the differences in each of its three acts.
- Here, I’ve picked up a Trandoshan shotgun, which fulfills the role of a dedicated close quarters weapon. Unlike the Geonosian beam weapon, which has a very high damage and limited carrying capacity, Trandoshan projectile weapons are effective against organic enemies and ammunition is relatively common. I found myself using the shotgun the most, since it had strong stopping power, although the repeating rifle is also a reasonable choice at close ranges. Using enemy weapons allows one to conserve on ammunition for the DC-17m, but in general, I found that ammunition was generally easily found.
- As I made my way deeper into the Prosecutor, the decks became better lit: it turns out that only some areas of the ship were damaged, and so, the Trandoshans, a reptilian species, intend to sell the vessel to the Separatists for cash. The aim of this mission changes from investigating the ship, to disrupting the transaction and driving off the Trandoshan boarders. Unlike the insectoid Geonosians, which explode when killed, Trandoshans are a bit more resilient to damage: I’ve found that the shotgun was the better way of dealing with them. Conversely, projectile weapons are less effective against droids.
- The close quarters settings of the Prosecutor’s corridors meant that there wasn’t much of an opportunity to make use of the sniper attachment. However, the heaviest Trandoshan enemies, their enforcers, possess a heavy repeating weapon that can burn through a commando’s shields and armour with ease at close range. Using the sniper attachment allows players to pick enforcers off at a range where their weapons are less effective, and it’s times like these where the DC-17m’s modular setup makes it immensely valuable.
- Fighting the Trandoshans brought back memories of fighting Brutes in Halo 2: despite being physically unimposing, they’re uncommonly strong, being a match for Wookies in combat. Against Delta Squad, they do pose a threat, but fortunately, the vast arsenal available, coupled with the fact that their gear renders them highly lethal, means that Delta Squad can cut their way through entire groups of Trandoshan warriors without too much trouble. As Delta Squad continues through the derelict assault ship, Separatist droids begin appearing again.
- In the large hangars, droid dispensers can be found. The most lethal ones manufacture a bottomless supply of Super Battle Droids or Droidekas, and require that explosives be mounted on their sides in order to be put out of commission. The explosives took upwards of ten seconds to arm, leaving one vulnerable to fire in the process. Where possible, I attempted to have squad mates rig the explosives, and then I would provide covering fire instead.
- Because of a bad save point, I ended up suffering this section: as droids stormed the hallway, I found myself dying endlessly. It wasn’t until I reverted to an earlier save point and ensured each of Scorch, Sev and Fixer were fully topped off that I was able to get past this section: there are automated turrets that will fire on the player alongside the waves of droids, and having that bit of extra health amongst the squad helps them to survive long enough for me to get the turrets offline.
- On the gunnery deck, there are a handful of terminals that must be activated in order to bring the Prosecutor’s guns online: these take a very long time to set up, and I found that it was much easier to arm a portion of it, deal with any enemies and then continue. Here, the EMP grenades proved to be immensely valuable: a single well-placed grenade can destroy an entire group of Super Battle Droids, without expending an extraordinary amount of ammunition and time. Once the guns are online, the Prosecutor and an allied Acclamator-class fire on the Separatist battleship, destroying it.
- The final act in Republic Commando is set on Kashyyyk, a forest world home to the Wookies. This planet would become a pivotal site during the Clone Wars as a navigational point, and so, the Separatists began an invasion. While the Republic would ultimately beat them back, casualties were heavy, and the Wookies were enslaved during the Imperial era. This final mission has the powerful and durable Wookies as allies, so rescuing and keeping alive the Wookies will be of a major help for players.
- While Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith made it seem that Kashyyyk was a planet with a surface geology most similar to Gulin province in China, with many rivers and karst limestone formations, Republic Commando‘s Kashyyyk is set in more heavily forested regions, where the larger Wookie cities are. In this mission, players fight both droids and Trandoshan mercenaries alike. I ended up switching between the Trandoshan shotgun and the default DC-17m blaster depending on what was at hand. The first goal is to rescue Tarffull from captivity. Once he’s secured, his presence will give players a powerful ally.
- General Grievous’ magna-guards are among the toughest enemies in the whole of Republic Commando to fight – their electrostaffs deal massive damage, and the droids themselves are highly agile on top of being able to absorb a great deal of damage. I ended up using a combination of the Bowcaster and EMP grenades to disable then: the latter is a powerful ranged weapon whose rounds can deflect off walls, and ammunition for it is relatively common where the weapon is needed.
- Inspection of screenshots later into my journey in Republic Commando will find that most of them were taken at around this time last year. I had reached Kashyyyk close to the Winter Solstice, during which we celebrated Dongzhi. Last year, we would have had family over, along with a delicious celebratory dinner. This year, during Dongzhi celebrations were a bit different: we ended up cooking our annual dinner from scratch, and everything turned out delicious: home-made white-cut chicken, char siu, roasted prawns and abalone on a bed of lettuce, braised shiitake and cloud-ear mushroom. We had been hit with a massive snowfall on the night of Winter Solstice this year, and within the space of a day, a foot of snow fell.
- During last year’s Christmas Eve, I remember having a half-day. After I returned home from work, I set about beating Republic Commando, then played through Halo: Reach‘s third mission before stepping out to a delicious steak dinner at a nearby bistro, before going for a short drive to check out the Christmas lights around town. Again, with different circumstances this year, we’ve opted to keep things simpler. I spent a half-day today tending to some work-related matters before taking the afternoon easy.
- It was quite surprising to see that a year had elapsed so quickly: it only feels like yesterday that I had finished Republic Commando. I had planned to write about the game shortly after I finished, but upon going through the screenshots I’d collected, it turned out to be a bit of a tricky undertaking to pare them down into a more manageable number for the post. As 2019 turned into 2020, I decided to revisit the game come December. I’d actually only written the draft of this post only this month, and for a better part of the year, most of its contents were just loosely-organised thoughts in my mind.
- I was therefore a little surprised to find that I’d still remembered my experiences in Republic Commando so well: this perhaps speaks to the level of quality in the game, which many modern games lack. Unlike games of the present day, which are littered with bugs, launch problems, mandatory DLC and loot-boxes, older games were designed with enjoyment and replayability in mind. In this way, I find modern popular titles like Fortnite to be pale imitations of what games could be like. The release of The Master Chief Collection was particularly enjoyable, since it brought back classic titles from an era when games were still intended to be enjoyed, rather than for milking every last penny from customers. The golden age of gaming is past now, but fortunately, older titles continue to be available for enjoyment and still run well enough on modern hardware.
- Here, I’m rocking the Trandoshan mini-gun, one of the most powerful weapons in the game in terms of raw damage (second only to the Geonosian cannon). While capable of shredding even a Trandoshan enforcer and Super Battle Droids in seconds, it is a cumbersome weapon, and becomes highly inaccurate at range. Ultimately, I found that the most useful weapon that could be picked up was probably the Trandoshan shotgun, as that fulfilled a CQC function in a reliable manner.
- As I pushed my way towards the final objective on Kashyyyk, members of Delta Squad head off to their objectives. Having grown accustomed to having squad mates around for revives, the last part of Republic Commando requires a bit of careful play, since dying without any squad mates around means being sent back to the last checkpoint. However, with Christmas Eve dinner on the table, I decided to play more cautiously, and for my efforts, finally reached one of the anti-air guns. Here, I used it to blast the Separatist Cruiser out of the sky, bringing the game to an end.
- Overall, I found Republic Commando to have felt like Star Wars with Halo mechanics, and dual-wielding swapped out for the much more useful and engaging squad commands. Despite being fifteen years old at the time of writing, Republic Commando has aged rather gracefully from a gameplay perspective. The soundtrack is also excellent: Vode An and the other Mandalorian pieces remind me of cold, dark December days. With this post in the books, it is time to take the remainder of this Christmas Eve easier, settle in to a quieter evening and look forwards to Christmas Day itself. With this being said, I would like to wish a Merry Christmas to all readers! I’ll be taking tomorrow easy, and then return on Boxing Day to wrap up GochiUsa BLOOM‘s finale.
The melding of sophisticated gameplay mechanics and story into Republic Commando makes it unsurprising that the game was acclaimed. I’ve long known about Republic Commando, having read the strategy guides back when the local library still carried them, but never really had any sort of opportunity to play the game itself until recently: last year, as a part of Origin’s security promotion, they offered clients with a month of free access to EA Play, which gave me access to all of the games that were a part of that library. However, EA ran into logistics issues, and it wasn’t until December that I was granted access to EA Play. I originally had intended to play through both Republic Commando and Detention, but a busy schedule meant that I ended up having only time for Republic Commando. After modifying the game to run at 1080p, I was immediately blown away by how smoothly the game handled: despite being fourteen years old, Republic Commando proved to be great fun – the game fully captures the Star Wars aesthetic, and without any Jedi or Sith, it feels distinctly like Rogue One, where it’s just ordinary folks doing what they can. Over the course of December, I progressed through Separatist installations on Geonosis, the Prosecutor’s cavernous interior and the Wookie cities of Kashyyyk. On Christmas Eve, I finally reached the final mission and destroyed the Separatist battleship to bring an end to the game. Even now, Republic Commando‘s unique soundtrack, with original pieces composed by Jesse Harlin, featuring Mandalorian chants, still remind me of the final moth of the year, when the days shorten and shadows consume the land in an early darkness. Republic Commando was, altogether, a superb experience. The game has certainly earned its praise, being an exceptionally well-done Star Wars title that withstood the test of time. A sequel had been planned for Republic Commando, and while this was cancelled, one can imagine that a revisitation of Delta Squad and their missions, in a modern game engine, featuring a refreshed story, could be worth playing.