Gaming

17 years later, the most underrated Star Wars game deserves a sequel

It’s all in the squad.

Star Wars games are at their best when they tell original stories that expand on the already massive universe. From Knights of the Old Republic to Jedi Fallen Order, Star Wars games have told some of the most beloved stories in the franchise. Separate from all the Jedi and force powers, however, is one Star Wars game that tells a grittier story about a group of clone troopers, and the bond that forms between them. Republic Commando is easily one of the best shooters the Star Wars franchise has ever seen, and it’s a real shame we haven’t seen a modern take on the property.

Set largely between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Republic Commando follows a four-person squad of elite Commando troopers, with players taking on the role of its leader, “Boss.” Like with much of the Clone Wars animated series, Republic Commando’s story dives into the personalities of the Commandos.

Scorch is the comic relief of the squad that constantly throws out one-liners, Fixer is a by-the-books no-nonsense trooper, and Sev is an intense personality who lives for the thrill of combat. These personalities often clash, creating drama within the squad even as they’re sent on vital missions behind enemy lines.

Part of what gives Republic Commando such a unique feel is the gritty military tone, especially in comparison to most other Star Wars games. Both the writing and visuals are finely tuned to support that idea as well, with familiar locations feeling like grungier versions of what’s found in the films. There’s still that Star Wars core, of course, but tonally Republic Commando feels more in line with military shooters like Call of Duty. There’s a tangible sense of camaraderie that develops between the Commandos, through both the story and the gameplay itself.

Republic Commando puts a huge emphasis on using and supporting your squad.LucasArts

Republic Commando is a squad-based shooter that gives you a ton of control over your squad. While campaign missions are largely linear, they’re packed to the brim with interactable elements that you can command your squad to use. For example, you can place your squadmates in support positions, command them to splice doors while you defend, set them up in sniping positions, and more. The game does a great job of constantly providing multiple options for combat encounters, letting players approach things in alternate ways.

At the same time, you have control over what your squad does in general, with a host of basic commands. You can tell your squadmates to rally around you if you’re overwhelmed by enemies or tell them to search and destroy if you need to fan out and take down multiple points. The squad mechanics are nothing too complicated, but the degree of control it gives you over combat is simply so much fun. There are plenty of shooters that have tried squad mechanics, but it’s astonishing that a Star Wars game is still one of the best.

Republic Commando’s three main levels take you to Geonosis, a derelict republic ship, and Kashyyyk.LucasArts

The only real problem with Rebuplic Commando is that it feels conceptual in a lot of ways, like developer Aspyr was testing out ideas and mechanics for a much more ambitious sequel. The campaign is relatively short at roughly six to eight hours, and the just-fine shooting falls short of similar games from that period.

A modern take on the game could do some wildly inventive things with squad mechanics, and perhaps even environmental destruction. It’s an absolute shame, then, that Lucasarts and now Disney have never returned to the property, at least in video games. EA even had the perfect developer to make a sequel with DICE. Just imagine a huge single-player Republic Commando campaign that features the destruction and set pieces of Battlefield.

Republic Commando’s grittier tone also does a fantastic job of introducing some light horror elements.LucasArts

While that moment may have passed, the Star Wars license is now open to any developer in the industry. There are countless studios that could do something incredible with a Republic Commando sequel, and given the continued popularity of the Clone Wars setting it doesn’t seem entirely unlikely.

Republic Commando was ahead of its time in many ways, from the dynamic squad mechanics to its more realistic take on the Star Wars universe. Disney properties like The Bad Batch have absolutely drawn inspiration from it, and with Star Wars games making a massive comeback, it’s high time Republic Commando returns to the spotlight.

Star Wars: Republic Commando is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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