From now until March 15, Xbox Live Gold subscribers will be able to download “Star Wars: Republic Commando” for free thanks to the Games with Gold program. Released in 2005 for Windows and the original Xbox, “Republic Commando” is a first-person shooter with tactical elements that places you in control of a squad of elite Clone Trooper Commandos as you battle against Separatist Battle Droids at the height of the Clone Wars.
The story of the game takes place between the events of the films “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” following the exploits of Commando Squad Delta as they take part in covert operations behind the scenes of iconic “Star Wars” battles. The narrative itself is very light with little in the way of an overarching plot, which I find to be commendable in a game like this. Rather than attempting to tell a grand, sweeping story, the game plays it straight with the military theme and treats each mission like another day in the life of a career soldier. Get in, get the job done, get out, just the way I like it in my first-person shooters.
In terms of gameplay, “Republic Commando” is very solid. The weapon selection is admittedly smaller than other titles from the time, but each weapon feels unique and they are all satisfying to use. Your standard blaster rifle can be modified into a sniper rifle or a grenade launcher, and exotic weapons such as Geonosian beam cannons and Trandoshan energy shotguns can be scavenged from fallen foes.
In addition to firearms, there is a small selection of different grenade types to employ against your enemies. You have your standard frag grenades and flashbangs, but the most fun ones to use are ECM detonators, which briefly disable all droid enemies in their radius, and sonic grenades, which unleash an incredibly deadly explosive force upon impact with their target. You can hold up to five grenades of each type and there are numerous opportunities to restock them, so feel free to whip a bunch of them into the fray to even the odds.
The combat is excellent and perfectly plays off of the other aspect of the game; managing your squad. As the leader of Delta Squad, you are able to issue orders to your three squadmates and are responsible for keeping them in the fight.
The system for issuing commands is very intuitive, requiring nothing more than looking at an object your squad can use and pressing a button. It’s through this system that you can order your squad to breach doors, hack into security terminals, begin sniping from a vantage point, revive fallen squadmates, and so much more.
During larger battles, managing your squad becomes a great challenge in its own right, and you’ll frequently be forced to make on-the-fly decisions about where your men need to be. It’s only game over if you and your entire squad gets incapacitated, so as long as at least one member of Delta Squad is still standing, you still have a chance to come out on top.
“Republic Commando” is a great game. It is a must-play for “Star Wars” fans, and I strongly recommend fans of first-person shooters in general to give it a go as well. If you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, there is no better time to check this game out than right now. Even if you miss the March 15 deadline, this game is available for a measly $10 on both the Xbox Store and Steam, so you can still check it out without breaking your wallet.