Games: Cult favourite Star Wars: Republic Commando back for a budget-priced victory lap
Star Wars: Republic Commando (Multi)
IF ANY more evidence were needed that the latest Star Wars game is a blaster from the past, its credits roll to a song from Ash.
First released in 2005, back when the Downpatrick rockers were in the pink, Republic Commando was the first official Star Wars game to feature licensed music. By sheer fluke, the famously Star Wars-obsessed band's track Clones dovetailed lucratively into the plotline of the early noughties sci-fi juggernaut – then basking in the a**e-end of the second trilogy – before we realised George Lucas was his own worst enemy and Jar Jar Binks was still a thing.
Despite the DUP-worrying title, Republic Commando doesn't involve skulking behind a privet in south Armagh. A long time ago (but not so far away), the Xbox and PC blaster emerged during a period of transition for first-person shooters as they attempted to add more strategic meat to the bones of Doom and Halo clones.
Set in the Star Wars Legends expanded universe, players fill the space boots of Boss, an elite clone trooper and leader of Delta Squad, who, along with demolitions expert Scorch, hacker Fixer and sniper Sev, plug their way through 10 hours of tightly scripted battles to protect the interests of the Republic against separatists. And maybe – just maybe – learn to bond as a team.
You can forget your lightsabers and Force hooey – here, you're just a grunt with a gun. And, while it's unfair to compare its basic coconut shy blasting to modern shooters, this was state-of-the-art in 2005, with the basic run 'n' gun gameplay enlivened by light tactical trappings – even if it's usually a case of directing your compadres to "go do that thing highlighted".
The gimmick is stretched gossamer thin as you spend your time lining up tin-headed cannon fodder in your sights, occasionally finding upgrades for the standard-issue blaster and healing your team using bacta tanks strewn throughout the game's world.
As a property based on the god-awful Star Wars prequels, Republic Commando has gained a cult fandom purely on the fact that it managed not to suck – like a flower that grew out of a pot of dirt.
A planned sequel (which would have had players carrying out the infamous Order 66 and hunting down every last Jedi) was canned when LucasArts decided to clean house. But with its spring-cleaned visuals, iconic score and stellar voicework, Republic Commando is a perfectly serviceable nostalgia ride.
Shooters may have come a long way in the last 16 years, but considering millennials were still in nappies when this first came out, it's well worth a punt at the cheap-as-chips £12 asking price.