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Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike (GameCube) artwork

Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike (GameCube) review

"Us reviewers like to exaggerate. Just look at Panzer Dragoon Orta, hailed the world (wide web) over as a grand philosophical statement, or Play magazine's ten page review of Super Mario Sunshine that may as well have called it the second coming. A certain someone on this very website even called that Dead or Alive Volleyball game good. Negative commentary is even worse--I'd know, I've been there myself. It's just too easy to get carried away in one's own hyperbole and say th..."

Us reviewers like to exaggerate. Just look at Panzer Dragoon Orta, hailed the world (wide web) over as a grand philosophical statement, or Play magazine's ten page review of Super Mario Sunshine that may as well have called it the second coming. A certain someone on this very website even called that Dead or Alive Volleyball game good. Negative commentary is even worse--I'd know, I've been there myself. It's just too easy to get carried away in one's own hyperbole and say that Sonic Adventure 2 is an utter disgrace thanks to a few silly item-hunting levels, or that Luigi's Mansion is a miserable pile just because it's repetitive. None of you call us on it, but I'm sure by now you've at least learned to take us with a few grains of salt.

I'd forgive you, then, for thinking that I'm overdoing it when I say that you can beat Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike's newly added on-foot missions by holding down forward and mashing the shoot button. But I'm not.

As if flying around and blowing shit up in a spaceship wasn't enough, Factor 5 mixed things up for this outing with said on-foot missions. Whatever, not the worst idea. That Star Wars Doom-clone Dark Forces rocked back in the day, when my seven year old self had to use cheats to beat the game on easy mode and was scared to fight those sewer monsters (shut up). But Dark Forces didn't confuse simple with lazy. Dark Forces had brutal guns, clever levels, and above all, it was bloody tough. Rebel Strike tosses you an auto-aiming blaster before sending you on your merry way across its flat, literally straightforward maps.

Snowy battlefield Hoth plays as well (or rather not) as any other level. Grapple up to the belly of the towering, nearly invincible four-legged AT-AT walkers, cut them apart with your lightsaber, and then toss a grenade into the cockpit. In simpler terms, press A and then B. Wipe out a group of heavily armed snowtroopers and the probe droids above them. A, A, A; aiming is for the weak. Ride a wild tauntaun across the enormous battlefield, evading snowtroopers and keeping a sharp eye out for collpasing walkers. Put differently, go straight.

But! Things sure do change once Luke Skywalker learns the ways of the force (read: double-jumping). Old and busted: button mashing. New hotness: button mashing with a side of awkward jumping puzzles. Yet no amount of that crazy magic will help you out against the nefarious cameraman as you're hopping from floating rock to floating rock the monster-infested swamps below.

Good news: this is only half of the game, and at least superficially the last game's slick spaceship combat is as good as ever.

Bad news: the level design is not, even when you're not plodding along on your own two feet.

Toward the end of the campaign, you and your wingmen pilot stolen experimental TIE Fighters into an Imperial shipyard. They notice right off that the "captured" Rebel transport you brought along for the ride is actually on a collision course for the base's shield generator, so the mission objective becomes protecting it until it can do its thing. So far, so good... except for the fact that this part is no more than a couple minutes long. Point yourself toward the inky black of space and then go make a sandwich; the transport will still survive. Even if you felt like wiping out the Empire's finest for sport you'd barely have time to nail a dozen of 'em. You're then tasked with using your ion cannon to send the generator's shielding awry before shooting the core inside... and you start out right in front of your one target. Hold B, hold A. Dance.

Just as lazy is the ripoff of the last game's clutter-filled Death Star Trench run that follows--but let's give credit where credit's due, it's a shipyard this time and there are some red girders to go with the grey ones!

Even the Star Wars fanservice you've come to expect from these games gets shafted by the sloppy design. The end of one mission lets you pilot a fucking AT-AT--you wouldn't know it from this game's Hoth level, but they're really quite powerful. But what fun would driving it all around and just utterly wrecking the Empire's shit be? Applause for Factor 5: driving it down an empty corridor on an epic mission to destroy three spinning tubes was just the only dignified way to go.

Another level lets you pilot Obi-Wan's Jedi Starfighter from Episode II and use those sweet sonic charges that mute the action before radiating outward in a big blue circle of death... I thought it was Boba Fett's ship that had those, but whatever, I rolled with it. They're just as fun to use as they were to watch, but yet again, this whole part of the game is no more than ninety seconds long even if you're pretty shit. There's nothing at all to sink your teeth into. Surely the five minute long on-foot section right before was more important.

The most damning thing of all is that this is still a Rogue Squadron game. When it gets things right, it gets them right. The speeder bike chase from Return of the Jedi is fucking ace, with Imperial bikers trying to slam you into the dense foliage and collapsed trees at every 500mph turn. After that comes another sweet mission where you steal one of the AT-AT's smaller, more maneuverable brethren and steer it through a forest battlezone, slaughtering by surprise until those other dopes finally figure out what's going on. You'll still have the upper hand: I hate Ewoks as much as the next nerd, but seeing them roll logs down hills to trip up enemy walkers never gets old.

But Rebel Strike's highlights don't highlight much more than the fact that it's little more than a dainty Star Wars dalliance. Co-op multiplayer is a blast from the past, Rogue Leader wholly revamped as a two-player game and tossed in as a bonus. Plowing through it with a friend really isn't as great as it might sound thanks to the objective-oriented design, but it'll snap one of the game's clear-as-night differences right to your attention: you can die. Rebel Strike's audience was us geeks who've played the last one so much that we can plow through its hectic Battle of Endor without even scratching our X-Wings, but Factor 5 instead catered to the crowd who thought flying down the Death Star Trench ten minutes into the whole affair was just too tough.


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Community review by mardraum (July 07, 2007)

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