"The animation, especially of the ships’ movements, is remarkably accurate to the movies, and, in some cases, even better. The ships’ hulls, themselves, are perfectly rendered, immediately recognizable at first glance. The FMV scenes from the original movies, which are shown throughout the game’s menu system, add even more quality to the already nostalgic title."
I have always been a Star Wars fan, ever since Luke destroyed the Empire’s beloved Death Star in Episode IV, and Lando and Wedge soon destroyed its second incarnation. Yes, I once dressed up as Darth Vader, and Yoda is my favorite Muppet. And, with the purchase of my GameCube, I decided I wanted—no, needed—Factor 5’s newest in their famous star fighter legacies, Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2
The game picks up from the first Death Star attack, where you can control Luke as he picks of TIE fighters, targets deflection towers, and engages in the famous trench run. After that, the game basically fills the holes left in the original movie, assigning missions corresponding to unseen—but referred—missions in the movies, such as the heist of an Imperial shuttle (Tyderian), which was piloted by Han in Return of the Jedi as he sneaked into the moon of Endor. Other missions are available for unlocking, such as Escape from the Death Star, where Luke mans the Millennium Falcon’s turrets to escape from the chasing TIEs. The battles based on the movies are all very true to the films, and will doubtlessly leave you satisfied.
Now, let me just say this: this game is beautiful. Many of the game’s scenes look better than in the movies, such as the Battle of Hoth or, again, the Battle of Yavin. The ships’ cockpits are amazingly detailed, meticulous even, with complete controls, monitors, and windows. All of the landscapes are gorgeous also, with realistic water, snow, sand, and fog—hell, the volumetric fog in Ison Corridor Ambush, the second mission, is extremely impressive. The animation, especially of the ships’ movements, is remarkably accurate to the movies, and, in some cases, even better. The ships’ hulls, themselves, are perfectly rendered, immediately recognizable at first glance. The FMV scenes from the original movies, which are shown throughout the game’s menu system, add even more quality to the already nostalgic title.
The sound is equally impressive. While the voice acting could use some work (especially Lando’s and Han’s—ouch!), the sound effects and music are amazing. Laser blasts and the loud screeches of TIE fighters are true to the films, and seem, at some points, to be taken right out of the movies themselves. The masterfully composed, melodic medleys of the classic Star Wars themes add a great deal of nostalgia and elegance to the game. As I said before, not all the voice acting is terrific, and while some—Wedge, for instance—are excellent, others, like Han’s, are horrible, though still acceptable.
The controls are perfect, with A being your primary weapons (i.e. lasers), B serving as a secondary weapon function (proton torpedoes, bombs, tow cables, etc.), X toggling the cockpit view, and Y activating the targeting computer, which I will get to in a second. L and R slow down and accelerate, respectively, and, if you press either fully, with the digital click of the controller, a fast brake or boost can be performed. The C-stick acts as a camera control, allowing you to pivot the view around the ship, for both the hull and the cockpit. Obviously, the control stick moves your ship.
The digital D-pad, however, serves a rather interesting—and innovative—function: throughout the missions, you will have to command your squad using the D-pad, by telling them to form, flee, or attack TIEs, guns, and other mission-specific actions. Using this effectively sometimes determines your ultimate fate in the mission; whether you succeed or perish depends on your efficient use of the command cross, in other words.
The targeting computer, in a rather clever addition, allows you to see enemy targets when activated. Enemy targets appear in lavender, while crucial—or rather, necessary—targets appear in yellow. Through an effective use of cel-shading, the targeting computer is both helpful and attractive, though, if you use it too much, your chances at achieving an elusive medal decrease.
Bronze, silver, and gold medals can be obtained through skillful completion of the missions, and each has their own specific requirements, such as accuracy, targeting computer efficiency, time, and kill count. These add tons of replay value to the game, and, with each successive medal, you can earn more points to unlock new missions, which ultimately unlocks new, hidden ships. However, there are only four hidden missions, though, while it would have been nice to have more, they are all a nice break from the usual gameplay, and offer their own, unique objectives.
The one thing I always find myself begging for, however, is some way to monitor your stats, such as accuracy, targeting computer efficiency, etc., in mid-mission. For instance, countless times have I found myself missing a medal requirement by a simple 1% in accuracy—if I had known, through such an addition, that I had to bump it up, I could have known, for certain, whether or not I would fulfill the requirement.
What adds more to this already terrific title is the addition of both a visual documentary of the making of the game, as well as audio commentary for each mission in the game; this makes for another refreshing break from the normal game, and some of the surprising—and sometimes facetious—comments are actually very interesting.
As a Star Wars fan, I suppose my enjoyment of this game was slightly biased. I can not say for certain that a casual gamer will find this game as enjoyable as I did, nor can I say that someone who hates Star Wars (and I’ve never met anyone who has) would not like Rogue Leader, because it is, plain and simply, one of the best action titles I’ve ever played, period.
Staff review by Zack M (June 18, 2002)
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