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.