|Title||:||Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike|
|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
Even rebels can go bad.
Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader was a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube, and amazed audiences with its graphics, gameplay, and significant but manageable difficulty.
Sadly, Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike flounders in inadequacy, compromising the success of the series with a dispersed effort across many gameplay styles that drags the whole product down.
More than enough games have been based on Lucas' original trilogy, so LucasArts has wisely moved away from those familiar scenes. Unfortunately, the original missions they've created in their stead lack the cohesion of the films. The levels comprise a series of disconnected missions that, while relating to the Star Wars universe and plots, offer little substantive expansion.
These missions have senseless objectives and rules. In one, an enemy troop transport is trying to escape, but does so by making hops, landing every fifty feet and exposing itself to the player's fire. Another level has gamers attacking an enemy transport which previously escaped with Rebel prisoners; later, players defend a transport under fire, but the level ends when the players find a means of escape. A third level has local citizens offering the vague advice, "Here's a bomb — use it!", turning what should be a standard defensive mission into a nebulous search for a target and means of detonation.
A supposed improvement in this installment of Rogue Squadron, and one of the downfalls of the series, is the variety of mission styles and vehicles. Luke, Wedge, and other avatars will occasionally tackle their targets on foot. But whereas Shadows of the Empire, the lukewarm Nintendo 64 game, employed this method with some strategy, Rebel Strike puts gamers in control of models that senselessly exchange fire with enemy troops. The camera angles are terrible, making the heroes too small or obscure, and the aiming, even using the target lock-on, is imprecise.
Other ground vehicles, including land speeders, tauntauns, and AT-STs, suffer similar problems. Dash Rendar experienced a greater sense of speed when he mounted a swoop bike in Shadows of the Empire seven years ago.
The two-player versus mode is similar to Star Wars Demolition, another past, failed licensing attempt, and the opportunity to connect a Game Boy Advance to issue orders to one's wingmen is a barely noticeable feature. But the two-player cooperative mode is a significant addition to the series, as it features every level from its predecessor, Rogue Leader – though some stages don't adapt well to multiplayer, such as the Death Star trench run.
The graphics have supposedly been enhanced since Rogue Leader, though such improvements don't seem critical. Enemy fighters still swarm in impressive numbers, though noticing them against space's black background often requires using the targeting computer. The collision detection has some serious issues, especially in the automated cinemas, which feature ships flying through asteroids and into each other. These cinematics further display momentary black screens when switching from one cut to another — a discontinuity that interrupts the fluidity of the presentation.
Star Wars games are often hit-or-miss; the Rogue Squadron series had been exceptional in its quality, but Rebel Strike finally succumbs to the license's curse. Developer Factor 5 proved their mastery of flight in the previous Rogue Squadron games; in this installment, they've demonstrated their ineptitude at most other styles, rebelling without cause from a proven formula.
This article is copyright (c) 2003, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Tech News, 18-Nov-03