Cheats and Walkthroughs
[Editor’s Note: “What if?” is a bi-weekly feature in which two writers combine their lack of development talent to write a fictional preview of a game they would like to see. Please, keep in mind that this is a work of fiction.]
I was already skeptical when I sat down with the developers from LucasArts. The decision to revitalize the relatively unknown Star Wars: Republic Commando seemed counter-productive. Why would you bring back a game that had been buried beneath a graveyard of forgotten Star Wars titles? But the excitement of the two developers intrigued me. They smiled when they turned on the large plasma TV in front of me.
“You might want a handkerchief,” one of them said as the music swelled.
The first taste of the game I was given did not come in the form of a level or multiplayer demo. Instead, I am introduced to Republic Commando 2 through an in-game cutscene. The TV comes to life and two stormtroopers stand over a man bound to a chair. At first I don’t recognize the man, but as the scene goes on I slowly realize what I am watching.
“I don’t believe you,” one of the troopers says from behind his helmet.
A covered finger jabs at the captive’s face; his plump cheeks are red with fury. The finger moves again and stabs him square in the forehead.
“Now, you’re going to tell me where those droids are. You’re going to tell me, or we’re going to do this-“
“The hard way,” the bound man interrupts with a chuckle. “Please, do you think this is the first time I’ve dealt with you Imperial blowhards? Are you going to shut down our farm here because you want an astro-droid? I don’t know where it is.”
The finger hasn’t moved from the man’s forehead. The stormtrooper above him only stares back through the expressionless helmet.
Those red cheeks move, and a slow rumble grows in the man’s throat. “You’re a shell of the republic,” the man says and lets loose a missile of spit and phlegm. The saliva lands directly upon the trooper’s helmet. Two others raise their weapons without a word, but the finger stops them.
“Don’t,” the trooper says. The two obey silently, exchanging a look for only a moment. The trooper simply steps back, a chime on his belt diverting his attention. He removes the communicator and steps aside, his back to the squad and his prisoner.
“No, he continues to be defiant. Yes, I understand. Yes, I’ll have them put on the issue right away.” He looks back, the grin evident even underneath his helmet. “Of course, Lord Vader.”
The man’s eyes widen. The trooper returns.
The captive says nothing; his face has turned a deep red either by fury or fear.
“And the woman?” Another of the silent troopers finally speaks; little emotion is found his voice.
“Kill her. Kill both of them. But make sure they watch the farm burn. These rebel scum don’t deserve the privilege of a fast execution.”
And they do, they burn the farm to the ground. I watch watch them set the fire. I watch the team lay waste to another family. I watch them put a blaster to Uncle Owen’s head.
The screen goes black with the blaster shot and I’m left staring at a Republic Commando 2 logo. The developer is grinning when I look back at him.
“Welcome to a new type of Star Wars game,” he says with a small pat on the back.
A New Hope
The developers of Republic Commando 2 know that Star Wars is both the most beloved and most hated franchise when it comes to video games. Games based on the franchise range from fantastic (Star Wars: Battlefront) to utterly dismal (Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter). And while nearly every genre has been touched upon, it is in the realm of first-person shooters where it lacks the most.
Of course, the Star Wars world doesn’t quite fit in the first-person genre as it stands today. There are no hard-talking marines or Scottish warriors in the galactic republic. You can’t call in UAVs, predator drones, or AC-130 air support. But what Star Wars lacks in action clichés it can make up in a fantastic story. That is why, as these two developers tell me, the world Lucas created can be used as a backdrop for a first-person shooter that would put both Call of Duty and Battlefield to shame. That is, of course, if it is done right.
The last game to interject the Star Wars franchise into the FPS was the 2005 game, Republic Commando. Using a contextual command system and set during the Clone Wars, Republic Commando delivered a solid FPS experience and was received well by critics. A sequel was planned following the game’s release, but it was ultimately cut for reasons unknown. Fans were only left with a few concept art sketches and memories of blasting separatist droids with their clone trooper comrades.
But it deserved a sequel.
Enter Star Wars: Republic Commando 2. The successor to the Xbox FPS follows a group of storm troopers as they destroy the “enemies” of the Empire. However, the similarities to its predecessor would end right there. Instead of delivering the same explosion-fest porn that other games provide, RC2 would seek to deliver the same type of action found in many modern FPS games, but its true star would be the plot that holds it together.
“This game will give you a reason to fear the Empire,” one of developers chimes with a smile.
A Long, Long Time Ago…
RC2 will center on a squad of five highly skilled soldiers who have proven their loyalty to the Empire. Each character has joined the ranks of the empire for different reasons, but shown enough experience in combat to warrant a recommendation to Vader’s 501st Legion.
Also known as Vader’s Fist, the 501st is a regiment of highly trained troopers originally filled completely with clones and tasked with the eradication of all Jedi following the issue of Order 66. Their tactics were ruthless and their method unorthodox, but the Legion was feared across the galaxy.
The player will follow the team through sets of levels that fall within the canon of the original trilogy, but their roles will be small in the grand scheme of the Star Wars storyline. Calm down fans, you will not meet Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. The main emphasis, however, would be to show just exactly why the Empire is feared, to display the Imperial soldiers as the capable killers they truly are. RC2’s goal is not to simply bombard the player with shock and awe tactics, but provide an emotional and immersive experience in the Star Wars universe.
For example, the team would be a part of the Tantive IV raid to capture Princess Leia, however their mission would be to make their way to the bridge and bring Captain Antilles to Vader for interrogation. Following that, the team is assigned to tracking C-3PO and R2-D2 on Tatooine, but instead of going with the soldiers through the dunes, you are the group that assaulted the sand crawler full of Jawas that sold Luke the pair of famous droids. Dressed as the “Sand People” in order to cover their tracks, the team would assault the Jawa sand crawler and slowly slaughter and interrogate all witness within.
Eventually, the squad would begin to question their role in the Empire, especially after the deaths of Owen and Beru. Mission after mission would make them feel as if they were really driving a wedge between the people of the Empire and their government. The destruction of Alderaan and subsequent eradication of a whole civilization would be the final event to push the team over the edge.
The finale of the game, an assault on the Blue Leaf Temple where the Rebels are hiding during the Death Star assault, would culminate in the squad’s capture and lay the groundwork for the next game in the series.
Kill Them All
The demo begins with you and your team pinned in a hangar bay with your objective (an Imperial transport) located on the far end and awaiting your arrival. Normally, the player is trained to simply run and shoot while taking cover to regain health. RC2, however, requires the player to utilize their teammates. The developer in control informs me that a tug on the right stick will bring up an “evolving radial menu” with squad commands, allowing you to choose from “Advance,” and “Direct Fire.” Keep in mind, these are the only two basic commands given during a firefight.
As the demo progresses, a cluster of rebels stand between the player and the objective, positioning themselves behind various pieces of cover and laying down a heavy barrage of fire with two DLT-19 heavy blaster rifles. Teammates automatically assume cover, taking shelter behind various boxes and fallen equipment. It is here that I see this “Radial menu” in action. Tugging on the right stick, the developer triggers the menu instantly and selects “Direct Fire.” His crosshairs are already pointing at the enemy DLT-19 mounted rifles and instantly two of his teammates spring into action by laying a suppressive burst of laser fire.
Without exiting the radial menu, he then selects “Advance.” The remaining team members, through the miracle of A.I., map the safest way to the opposing force. I watch as he and his team uses the overturned boxes and junk as cover, ducking under blaster fire as they flank the enemy. It isn’t long until he is upon the rebels and blasting them away with relative ease. The two team members that were providing covering fire regroup as the rebels are mopped up. However, all is not won. A pursuing party of rebels burst through the doors behind the team, blasters at ready and sights aimed directly for the troopers.
Under the heat of incoming fire the developer activates the radial menu and points at one of the DL-19 mounted rifles formally owned by the enemy. Highlighting it brings up two options: “Use to fire” and “Use to fire and spike.” Selecting the latter immediately sends a team member hurrying towards the rifle. Using the DLT-19 to cover their retreat, the developer and the remainder of his team rush to the imperial transport. A scripted sequence kicks in and the team member with the DLT-19 quickly plants a charge on the weapon and rushes towards the already moving transport. A spectacular explosion rocks the hangar, sending smoke and debris at the pursuing rebels.
Shooting And Caring
Star Wars: Republic Commando 2 is not a game that will look vastly different than your typical first-person shooter. It is not here to revolutionize the way we shoot our guns or create a 15-hour Michael Bay film. The way in which it tells its story would be the primary selling point.
“Republic Commando 2 will put you in the shoes of a soldier that you care about, and a team that is evolving as they watch the Empire devolve into a military theocracy,” one of the developers chimed in.
Sure, there will be action and explosions assaulting you from ever angle, but each of blaster shot will hold weight. Each objective will have consequences that involve something more shocking than a nuclear explosion. You will kill innocents, and you will destroy a rebellion that only seeks equality and tolerance. You will be your own worse enemy and learn why the Empire is the most feared regime in the galaxy.
You will remember why the Imperial March caused a chill to go up your spine.
Written By: Antonio Hernandez & John Sollitto