Republic Commando is on sale and better than you remember

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I’m not sure how rare this experience is, but I played A LOT of Star Wars games as a kid without having seen the Star Wars movies. They not only laid the groundwork of my later-fandom, but they also told these side stories that were (occasionally) so well done that I wound up underwhelmed by the films themselves. You know what? Typing all that out, I realize that’s a pretty weird line-in for Star Wars. I am probably more alone on that than I expected. ANYHOW. One of the better, lesser celebrated Star Wars titles is on discount on Steam right now, as part of the continuing May The Fourth sale, and if you haven’t given Republic Commando a spin, now is the time.

As the leader of a squad of (you guessed it) Republic Commandos, you and your boys embark on a series of adventures where you mix shooting, puzzle solving, and team command in equal measure. It’s a tie-in prelude to the events of Episode III, but as I mentioned before, this is one of those games in the Star Wars universe that is wayyyyy better than it has any right to be, and a real weird chance that LucasArts was willing to take, gameplay wise.

As Alec said of the the game in his Have You Played article:

[Republic Commando] 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.

Alec also wrote about the game at greater length here and here. Well worth the reads. Especially to discover that lead programmer Brett Douville left this game to go work on Skyrim and Fallout 3. That makes… a lot of sense.

I hadn’t touched this title since 2005, but discounted to $3 in this sale it was hard to pass up. I sunk a few hours in this weekend and it is much better than I remember. In fact, all I could really remember was that I was shocked that there hadn’t been a follow up game that attempted to use this same squad command format. It’s… complicated at times and perhaps not as immediately rewarding as a Battlefront title, but it is absolutely worth your time.

You can grab the game on Steam right now. There’s only two days left so act fast.

I’d be remiss to not also share Brendan’s excellent Star Wars Video Game Round-Up.

26 Comments

  1. cpt_freakout says:

    I loved this game back when I played it. I’ve always had the intent to play it again (own it on GOG) but haven’t gotten around to it. It’s definitely one of those games that left me wondering why there never was a sequel, because it was actually great, as against the slew of Star Wars games that were coming out at the time.

  2. Flyer_Beast says:

    My line-in to Star Wars was reading all the encyclopedias and poring over the cross-sections books long before I’d seen the films… you might not quite be alone with odd ways of being introduced to it!

  3. dr.denton says:

    Seconded! Despite having watched the original movies at some point as a child, they didn’t really leave much of an impression of me. Except for the knowledge that these things were somehow important to pop culture. And the X-Wings. Naturally.

    My love for the SW universe is based mainly on Tie Fighter, Jedi Knight and Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn” trilogy.

    RC, like these novels and maybe the Clone Wars series, represents what might have been: a Star Wars universe that grows with its audience, taking on more mature and serious subjects, doing away with shallow Hollywood chliché. Ah, well. Maybe in another universe, far, far away …

  4. Sleepery says:

    “Aw, there he goes again!” from one of the squad when I went down, made me laugh out loud.

    Genuinely great game, well-deserving of a playthrough.

  5. Kefren says:

    I bought this because lots of people praise it … but gave up on playing it. I’m sure it’s great if you’re in the mood, or have nostalgia for it, but I found it to be boring and clunky. I reached a bit that I couldn’t get past where we died every time (on rocky walkways in some insectoid warren?), and since I was already having no fun that provided a good excuse to stop. It’s hard to say why I disliked it. It can’t have been the graphics or controls, because I played the original System Shock not that long ago and was immersed from start to finish.

    • DeepFried says:

      There are some very hard spots in the game, but its worth pushing through them for the whole experience.

    • hijuisuis says:

      I played through it recently due to all the recommendations, and I did not enjoy it. Lots of trash mobs, uninteresting locations and fiddly victory conditions.

      It wasn’t bad, but I was expecting star wars greatness and it didn’t feel like that for me. The interactions between the team were great though.

      • Vandelay says:

        Yes, I remember playing this a few years back and being surprised at how underwhelming it all was, despite it regularly coming up as one of those hidden gems in the Star Wars games’ back catalogue. It certainly felt like it had aged pretty badly and was a rather clunky experience.

        Steam says I have only played it for 40 minutes (although I’m sure I played more than that), so maybe I need to give it another go. My lasting impression of it though was just a sense of it being rather average.

      • DeepFried says:

        Eh, these things are relative. It was one of the better star wars games, it did have some cool features, but that was back in the day, now all it has is nostalgia and its flaws. Or just flaws if you never played it back when.

    • Sleepery says:

      That bit, from memory, is the first time you encounter the fact that it’s actually part puzzle game. The set pieces like that one play out very differently depending on who you place at what spot, and what role you give yourself.

      Bit of a slap in the face at first, but very satisfying when you subsequently walk it by placing a grenadier or sniper at the right spot.

  6. KevinRGuidry says:

    Brett Douville, the lead programmer, made a cool series of videos a few years ago where he plays through the game and provides commentary. It looks like one or two of the videos have been deleted (maybe there are copies somewhere if you look for them?) but the series is on YouTube. (Kefren, he struggles at that particular part of the game, too, and comments on how much time he spent asking the designer to make that section easier. I remembered it and struggled a lot there when I played through years ago, too.)

  7. Darth Gangrel says:

    I played this quite recently, just a few years ago. Pretty short, but great gameplay and squad control.

    The only thing I didn’t like was that the special weapons that you can pick up from enemies didn’t have an ammo counter, so I only used them sparingly, because they would suddenly stop working. Some fights with droids endlessly spawning from a crate or whatever were also quite tedious. Pretty tricky having one guy disable the spawning mechanism while you try to defend him from all the enemies that spawns from the crate right next to him.

  8. cuchlann says:

    I was actually introduced to Star Wars through the Micro Machines toys. They just looked so cool, and I was already into that stuff big-time (because of Mighty Max!). So I got the Artoo-Detoo that transformed into Jabba’s Palace, and definitely thought that Luke Skywalker was some sort of cool hoverboard enthusiast because of his stand-up plank.

    So, the next time the movie was on TV, I recognized it and thought I’d watch it. Oops, there went my tweens and teens.

  9. Neurotic says:

    It’s one of those games I play every few years. Never gets old.

  10. Premium User Badge

    john_silence says:

    There was a particular level where you boarded an abandoned ship, a “haunted house in space” if you will. It started with an unbelievably atmospheric, seemingly free flight through space. A great, tense exploration sequence followed before, predictably, the shit hit the fan.
    That very short flight through the dark void, towards the mysterious, desolate ship, has stayed with me.

    • Flatbread_ says:

      That part scared the crap out of me when i played it as a little kid. The part where you walk through the SBD factory always spooked me too

  11. geldonyetich says:

    I expect we’ll have a serviceable sequel just as soon as someone releases Republic Commando outfits for the boys in Final Fantasy XV.

  12. Carra says:

    I loved this game. One of the very few games that I finished twice.

  13. Sunjammer says:

    The Last Great Star Wars Game

  14. wisnoskij says:

    I remember enjoying this so much when I first played it on the xbox (original). Played it again years later and not nearly as good. I think it is a better game if you are not that great of a FPS player, than if you can just kill everything yourself. And it is fairly short.

  15. Stevostin says:

    I bought it based on that kind of article and couldn’t stand more than 20 min of it. It’s really, really ugly and really had nothing going for it in that period. I am sure it was worth it at a time but in 2018 (or 2016 when I played it), not anymore to me.

  16. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I tried it, relatively recently. It was a big ol bug hunt and aggressively unfun. Maybe I should have stuck with it longer, but I didn’t feel like it.

  17. Maxheadroom says:

    When i played this on first release id just been on a couple of dates with some girl I was besotted with and popped this on while waiting for her to return my call for a 3rd date.

    Im guessing i made less of an impact on her since she never did call back.

    I remember nothing about her these days of course, not even her name or what she looked like. Still, whenever Republic Commando is mentioned it fills me with a sense of waiting for the phone to ring and ever dwindling hope :)

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