The game ended up, in fact, being quite a good looking shooter with enjoyable gameplay; but not without its flaws.

User Rating: 7 | Star Wars: Republic Commando PC
Another game down for the holidays, this one relatively a mystery to me. My little expectations were pointing towards another bland Star Wars game with the same old setting, mixed in with more of this 'tactical strategy' I explored in Rainbow Six.

The game ended up, in fact, being quite a good looking shooter with enjoyable gameplay; but not without its flaws.

The highest points for SWRC go to the level design. You battle through three episodes - Geonosis, Assault Ship and Kashyyyk. I won't pretend to be familiar with these places, or the entire Star Wars story for that matter, as I'm definitely not a Star Wars fan (and yes I've seen all six).

Geonosis is some desert world, while the Assault Ship episode all takes place within a ship that you must regain control of, and is ultimately the dullest of the episodes. Kashyyyk is a world inhabited by Wookies, as you attempt to rescue a Wookie leader. The highlights were the rooms built out of huge wooden trees. It wasn't as good as Serious Sam II's attempt on the giant tree village, but everything still looked good as there was a decent mix of outdoor terrain and indoors.

Design was packed with detail and the Unreal Engine 2 was put to good use. The only niggle with design is that some of the levels and rooms became a little repetitive. Overall it reminded me of Halo. Similar design settings; only looking much, much better.

The gameplay was a mixed bag. Overall it was fun with your three team members improving the experience. They weren't stupid, but certainly lacked the skill of a multiplayer bot. They worked best when placed behind a structure and instructed to use grenades or the sniper rifle.

The tactics with your soldiers were all fairly easy. Tell them to charge in, hold back, open a door, sit behind something and snipe. When they die you or another soldier can revive them, and when your own player dies you can also be revived. I found this to be much more enjoyable than having to reload. Your ultimate death comes when you're all killed and there's no one left to revive any of the team. A lot of the enemies in SWRC can take some firepower, so you definitely need all of your team members.

Unfortunately the gameplay can be frustrating at times. There's one particular enemy that flies overhead which is far too hard and can take your entire team out in 30 seconds, while some of the other enemies such as the Super Droid or Spider Boss become a real bore as your all blasting away for an eternity. The Droids, which are weak and hopeless, end up being the most enjoyable enemy. But overall most of them aren't that fun to fight and there's not a huge variety in enemies as it is. What is there, has fairly average AI.

A few times the gameplay suddenly got extremely difficult with just too much thrown at you at once alongside endless replicating machines which you need to shut down. This is the other major problem with gameplay. Throughout the game your tasked with turning off these endlessly enemy-spawning replicators. It takes 20 seconds to shut one down, and after doing it 50 times it just gets mind-numbing. I can understand their inclusion to spice up gameplay a little, but in the end they became tedious and annoying.

The final problem which spoiled gameplay, was the abysmal collection of weapons. You get the Quake2-cloned blaster, a machine gun which annoyingly shoots sideways and takes quite a few levels before you get used to it. The sniper rifle aka Quake 2 railgun which never has enough ammo. Your fourth weapon is a grenade launcher I think; but I'm unsure since I only used it a couple of times due to it only carrying four grenades at once and not wanting to waste them. The fifth weapon varies depending on what episode your in. The shotgun in episode 2 is decent, but all your alternatives in the final episode are junk. Even worse, the final level didn't seem to have ammo for any of the weapons I had.

If a mod was created that removed most of the replicators and gave us much improved weapons and perhaps tweaked some of the monsters, then STRC would become a great game. As it is, it's just a good game; thumbs up but little re-playability. But since I was expecting much worse, I'm fairly satisfied.