When Star Wars Republic Commando launched in 2005, it was ahead of its time. It found a perfect balance between the tactical, detail-intensive gameplay of shooters like Rainbow Six and the cinematic bombast of Call of Duty. It nailed this so well, that now, 16 years later, the game holds up shockingly well.
Telling Delta Squad what to do and how to do it feels visceral in a way that many modern shooters aren’t even able to achieve. These commandos are the best of the best, and they act like it. Your AI squadmates – in most games, a nuisance to be coddled – are capable of holding their own, sometimes more effectively than you. This is best personified by the game not ending the second you get taken out. Your squad carries on and finishes the job before picking you back up.
Even the shooting has aged surprisingly well, especially when paired with a more modern control scheme via preset or custom mapping. Everything just feels good. Sure, some of the enemies might be a little too spongey, but the sheer variety and versatility of the tools offered is impressive, chief among them your DC-17 – a modular rifle that can shift between RPG, AR, and sniper.
Of course, being Star Wars, sound is a big factor, and Republic Commando is one of the IP’s highest points. Jesse Harlin’s score remains as immaculate as the day the game first released and all the sound effects you’d expect out of Star Wars are front and centre. This is all further solidified by the great work of Temuera Morrison, the actor responsible for bringing the entire clone army to life in the films.
Each of the game’s three “campaigns” distinguishes itself from each other as well. From the sandy canyons of Geonosis, the eerie halls of the Prosecutor, or the densely forested Kashyyyk, they all feel distinct. While it may not be a visual feast anymore, the takeaway with Republic is less look how far we've come but rather look how far ahead it really was.