Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
As we enter a phase of Star Wars in which everyone involved tries really hard to pretend those leaden prequel movies never happened, it’s worth remembering that not everything from that ponderous timeline was a disaster. Squad-based shooter Republic Commando plucked something with heart and heroism from the wreckage.
Whether RepCom is suitably Star Warsy is a matter for some debate. This is not a game about being a Jedi. It does feature Wookies, a Yoda cameo and some enemies with lightsabers, but for the most part it’s focused on battling those skinny droids and the bugmen from Episode 2. Y’know, the stuff no-one actually wanted from Star Wars. But it works so well, thanks to rugged and challenging combat, and a team comprised of broad but likeable personalities. You’ll come to care about these four faceless not-quite-Stormtroopers, and you’ll come to rely on them too, as you make heat-of-battle decisions about who’s going where, who’s defending what, who’s hacking which door, and whose life you’ll try to save first.
It is, perhaps, difficult to hold up individual aspects of Republic Commando as particularly superior, but what makes it great is how solid and well-maintained a shooter it is. It understands the business of fighting and it understands the business of risk and challenge, without ever losing itself to overblown storytelling or contrived setpieces. Like its stoic heroes, it’s quietly capable and reliably effective.