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Added: 29 Mar 2012
"“The force is strong with this one.” Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II Review"
Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II Review
“A long time ago in a galaxy far far away” this is one of the most recognizable quotes in the history of Hollywood movies. As you might know, this is the beginning to the epic movie Star Wars. When the Atari game Star Wars hit arcades throughout the United States in 1983, Star Wars fanatics flocked to their local arcades for the opportunity to experience the Star Wars universe like never before. This game allowed them to actually pilot (well not exactly, it was like a rail shooting game) their favorite vehicles from the Star Wars universe. Although they probably enjoyed the game with it's “pseudo 3D” graphics, they probably longed for something more…realistic. Their prayers have been answered by Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II, one of the GameCube launch titles, and probably the most realistic Star Wars game for its time. Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II is a sequel to the popular Nintendo 64 game Star Wars Rogue Squadron. It is made by the same people who made the N64 game, Factor 5. Although I am not a noob to the Star Wars universe, I am not a die hard fan of it either. With that said, I truly believe that this game adds to the greatness of the Star Wars legacy.
The story of the game stays true to the movies. It includes all the major space fights starting from blowing up the Death Star from the first movie. The game also makes up some of the story to link the missions together and offers plausible explanations as to what happened after some of the major movie battles. Overall, it does not deviate too much from the movies. The basic story of the first Star Wars picks up at the end of the first movie. For the few who are unfamiliar with the first movie, I have made a brief summary of it here.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there were vast civilizations that have evolved. Ruling the galaxy is an interstellar Empire. The Empires ruler is now the evil Darth Vader. The Empire was created from the ruins of an Old Republic that held power for many generations. This area is in a time of civil war. Solar systems have broken away from the Empire and the Rebellion is waging a war against them. During recent battle technical schematics for a gigantic space station, code named The Death Star, have been unearthed by the Rebel spies. Princess Leia (a young woman who is a dissident member of the Imperial Senate) under the cover of a diplomatic mission to the planet Alderaan, is trying to smuggle these plans to the Rebellion. Her spacecraft however is attacked by an Empire warship and it is apprehended. The Senator is captured, but the plans for the Death Star are nowhere to be found. Princess Leia cleverly places the plans in a droid known as R2D2 and tells it to go find Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi knight. We now switch to a young desert farmer with dreams of being a fighter pilot in the Rebellion. His name is Luke Skywalker. He has just acquired two droids who happen to be R2D2 and his friend C3PO. Luke winds up with the Death Star plans. Luke later meets an the elderly hermit, Obi-Wan Kenobi who once served as a Jedi Knight whose chosen weapons were powerful energy swords known as light sabers. Though Yoda, Luke learns the ways of the force. Luke later recruits an interstellar smuggler named Han Solo. He has a loveable alien copilot Chewbacca. They fly an ancient space vehicle known as the Millennium Falcon that is heavily modified for combat. They help Luke reach Alderaan. This planet however has been obliterated and now the foursome must rescue Princess Leia who is held prisoner by the Empire. Luke Skywalker and flying ace Wedge Antilles have the responsibility to lead an attack and destroy the Death Star. Can they destroy it before it annihilates all hope of restoring freedom to the galaxy?
The game play of Rouge Leader II is the exact same as its predecessor. It is a flight simulation combat game in which you pilot various air crafts in scenarios taken straight out of the original Star Wars movies. The list of crafts is impressive. You get to fly X-Wings, A-Wings, Y-Wings, B-Wings, Airspeeders, and even TIE Fighters. There are many other crafts in this game that can be unlocked such as the fan favorite Millennium Falcon. You are limited to the number of crafts you can choose in the missions. Some let you choose 1 or 2 crafts, while others let you choose 8 or more.
When you choose a mission, you are first transported to a hangar. There you can select which aircraft you want for the mission. What is cool about this is that you control your character in the hangar. You move him around to the ship that you want. You actually get to see the size of these ships and you can marvel at the amazing detail on them. You pick your ride and you are off. At the beginning of each mission a small movie will play that basically explains what you need to do in each level. Then you control your ship and must fulfill the given objective. Most missions are broken down into two or three different parts. Once you complete the first, another movie will play telling you what to do next.
Combat in the game is intense. The epic feel you get by watching the movie is retained in this game as well. The AI of both your fellow wingmen and your enemies is spectacular. Your wingmen help you out a lot more then you might expect. The TIE's and other enemies are relentless. The TIE's come at you in formations. If you start gunning at them, they will split up and try to evade you. Others will swarm behind you, trying to take you out. You get a huge adrenaline rush while playing some of the better missions such as Battle of Endor. This mission in particular has some of the most hair raising dogfights I have ever played. It is truly spectacular. Other missions are more typical with the usual escorting the transport type of thing. Still, these types of missions are fun as well. The missions are nicely varied, but I would have loved to see more missions like the Battle of Endor mission.
TIEs outnumber you and your crew in a good number of missions, and are pretty tricky most of the time. They surround you from all angles and sometimes it is hard to escape from them. Other missions are more trial and error based then skill based and seem more like a chore rather then being fun. Do not expect to breeze through this game as it is quite difficult, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There are many missions, but you only have access to the two from the start. You gain access to other missions by beating the preceding ones. There are also many secret missions that can be unlocked as well. This game has excellent replay ability.
One big complaint I have about the game play is that the objectives are not always explained thoroughly. I had many problems with the first mission of the game for this very reason. The first mission is broken down into three distinct parts. In all three parts you are piloting the X-Wing. Your entire mission is to blow up the Death Star as seen at the end of the first movie. In the first part you must blow up all of the Deflection Towers. What I failed to realize is that if you waste all of your torpedoes in this part you automatically fail the entire mission. The first time I played the first part of the mission, I used up all of the torpedoes, and I failed the mission. I kept trying the mission, and the same thing kept happening over and over again. I did not realize what I did wrong. The message kept playing after I died “You have no proton torpedoes let to fire at the exhaust port.” I went to the instruction booklet to get help and low and behold, under Special Flight Tips it says “Although it goes without saying, remember to save at least one torpedo for the Death Star trench run.” I guess Factor 5 just assumes that we are all huge Star Wars fans and automatically know to do this.
This type of confusion affects Star Wars hardcore and casual fans alike in future missions and is plentiful throughout the game. For example in the mission Razor Rendezvous you are told to take out the shield generators on the Star Destroyer. Only after a little experimenting did I realize what those shield generators were. They were these water tower looking things on top of the Star Destroyer. Once you take those two out, you are told to take out the third shield generator on the bottom. I wasted many lives trying to find the shield generator on the bottom. Apparently someone at Factor 5 messed up on creating this shield generator, as it looks more like main reactor. I lost so many lives and felt very frustrated during the entire mission until I figured this out. A little more explanation before the mission could have saved me and turned this level into a pleasant experience, but unfortunately, Factor 5 decided not to.
Once you complete a mission (or die trying) you are taken to a statistics screen which tells you how you did in that level. It displays your statistics for completion time, enemies destroyed, shot accuracy, friendllies lost (allies lost), lives lost, and targeting computer efficiency (it subtract 1% point for about each second you use the targeting computer). If your statistics are good, you may be rewarded with a medal. There are three medal bronze, silver, and gold. The statistics you need to reach the next medal are displayed at the right of your current statistics. To earn a gold medal you must work really hard and be nearly flawless.
The graphics in Rogue Leader are amazing. It looks like you are playing the movie. Your parents might do a double take to see if you are watching Star Wars or playing it. Heck, you might even question it yourself. This game was the most authentic looking Star Wars game for its time, and the only game that has yet to surpass its realistic graphics is its successor Rebel Strike.
Factor 5 has actually examined the textures of the models from the movie to recreate them in a digital form. The game looks so good that it is scary. Rogue Leader runs at around 60-30 frames per second in most levels even with tons of crazy action going on. There is some gigantic slow down when you drop too many bombs at once however. Besides these rare anomalies, the FPS is solid. The levels in the game are pretty big for its genre. The amount of polygons displayed at a time in this game is the most for any console game ever except for Rebel Strike. The detailing on ships, the particle effects, the character models, the lighting effects, the animations, the explosions, the backdrops, are all amazingly done. Not to mention the water, the snow, the asteroids, everything related to graphics is top notch in the game. The game also blends in real clips from the Star Wars trilogy with the game to let you really experience get the epic feel. Even though this game was one of the first GameCube games release, it is still has some of the best graphics ever. The camera is good most of the time. It stays right behind you and adjusts when you turn. If a TIE is on your back, the camera pulls back to show this to you.
Another innovative thing related to graphics is that Rouge Leader uses the GameCubes internal clock to change the backdrop of the levels. So say you are playing the game at 8:00 P.M and your GameCube's clock is set to that time. In a few levels, the game will be set during the night and will change if you are playing during the morning. This is extremely cool and it adds to the games replay ability.
While playing the game you will see four icons. In the upper left corner of the screen is the command cross. When your wingmen ask for orders, tap the Control Pad in a direction to issue them that order. In the upper right corner there is a 3D map. Dots at the top mean there is a craft ahead of you. If blips are above or below the map, the ship is above or below your ship. If the dot is red, it is an enemy. Likewise, if the dot is green dot, it means the ship is an allied craft. If the dot is blue, it means it is a neutral craft or structure. If you're too far from the place you have to be, an orange triangle will appear to guide you in the right direction. Near the lower left of the screen is your shield indicator. The color changes from green to red (and the bars shorten) as you receive damage. When your shields are really low, a wire frame icon appears and flashes yellow and red. Towards the lower right there are a number of indicators. The most important is the secondary weapon indicator which informs you of the number of secondary weapons you have left (if the secondary weapon is limited). There is also a little yellow meter in this corner. When this meter fills up, you can execute a speed boost. If your craft has an ion cannon, this meter will turn blue as you charge it. The border around the icon gradually lights up, and, once it is completely lit, you can fire linked lasers. These indicators onscreen are well done. They are clearly noticeable, but do not hinder your ability to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings or loose sight of your enemy. The map is the only thing that may be confusing at first, but you will get the hang of it as you progress in the game.
The sound in this game is crazy realistic. The game has both orchestrated and MIDI music and it works brilliantly in the game. This combined with the graphics makes the game really seem like you are controlling a movie. The game also uses actual sound clips from the movie to create an unprecedented level of realism. All your favorite tunes from the original trilogy are in this game and they have never sounded better. Dennis Lawson (Wedge Antilles) lends his voice to the game (he describes mission objectives, explains ships, etc) and he does a fine job.
This game runs in Dolby Pro Logic II which sounds great with the correct 5.1 surround speakers. You can hear the growl of TIE Fighters whizzing around, and the explosions that they make when you destroy them has never been more rewarding. The huge AT-AT walkers retain that trudging, deep echoing sound when they move like in the movies. Don't have a 5.1 surround speaker system? Don't fret, the game still sounds good on what ever you use. Overall, the sound is simply excellent.
The A and B buttons are used mostly for the weapons. The A button fires the primary weapon while the B button fires the secondary weapon. In most cases, the primary weapon can be used an unlimited amount of time while the secondary weapon is limited. The primary weapon is mostly the lasers. If you hold down the A button, the primary weapon will fire automatically. Skillful players can take their thumb off of the A button for a moment until a craft's guns have fully powered up, then A can be pressed for “linked lasers” that wreak more damage. This adds more strategy into the mix. If you are flying a ship where the secondary weapon is a ion cannon, holding down the B button charges the cannon and releasing the button makes it fire. In the case of the tow cable, if you press B while you are close to the feet of the AT-AT, the cable will launch and you just simply hold the B button down and wrap the feet of the AT-AT. If you are not close enough, the tow cable will not fire at all. The tow cable is found only on the airspeeder. Other secondary weapons are proton torpedoes, concussion missiles, proton bombs, and cluster missiles. As you can see, the secondary weapons are usually the more powerful of the two weapons.
The D-pad is used to issue commands to your fellow wingmen. The up button is usually used to make the wingmen form on either side of you and fire when there are enemies in front. Down is usually used as the flee command to get rid of your wingmen. The left and right buttons vary, but it usually involves your wingmen attacking certain enemies or structures such as ties, AT-STs, guns, etc. This can be annoying at time is you are slightly uncomfortable with the D-pad. I find it to be too small personally. While playing, I sometimes gave my wingmen the wrong order. Many times I mean to press the attack tie button, but instead it gives the form order. Although it is easily changed by pressing the tie button again, it can get annoying in the heat of a battle.
The L and R buttons are used to vary the speed of your craft. L is the brake and R is used to speed up momentarily. In most crafts, you cannot shoot while you speed up so you must use this function with caution. If you press the R button while piloting the B-Wing or X-Wing, this will close the S-foils. Just hit the A button to open them up again. You can perform a barrel roll using the Z button. Simply hold down the Z button and tilt the control stick left or right. This will come in handy when trying to evade enemies.
The X button and C-stick are used to adjust the camera. The X button will switch camera views from chase view to cockpit view and back again. If you move the C-stick up or down, it will change the distance the camera follows your craft. If it is moved left or right, it will rotate your view.
The start button pauses the game and brings up a menu that allows you to adjust the settings or abort the mission. The Y Button displays the targeting computer which allows you to clearly see enemies (highlighted in red) and mission targets (highlighted in yellow). The Tatooine Training will further clarify the use of the targeting computer.
Overall the controls are pretty good. Performing quick turns and loops has never been easier or felt more natural. The reaction of your aircraft is tight and is it performs well during the usual dogfights that you encounter. The physics in the game are a bit off though. It is very easy to turn on a dime, while practical, it doesn't seem realistic. You don't really feel like you are piloting a monstrous metal aircraft. Chasing tie fighters at times is frustrating at time because sometimes it is hard to turn at a steep angle to catch up with an enemy on your tail. Another problem I have is that the vehicles don't seem to be traveling at blazing fast speed. Although I understand that if the speed was increased to realistic speeds that the game would become unplayable, Factor 5 could have increased the speed a little more to add to the fun of the game because it often feels like you are piloting a flying snail. With those minor annoyances aside, the controls are solid.
After the cool storm troopers dancing sequence, you are taken to the main menu. There are two options here; start and options. The start option takes you to the select game menu. Here you can access your game saves. There is a little movie clip above your game file initials that displays footage from the last mission that you completed. After you pick your file, you are taken to a very cool looking menu to pick the mission you would like to play. This area is set up like a room. It has a holographic television screen in the center that displays footage from each mission. It looks like a room where Rebel pilots lounge around. You can press left or right (or sometimes up for secret missions that you have unlocked) to go through the missions that you have unlocked. Press Y to get information on what the mission is about. After you select you mission, you go to the coolest menu of all, the hangar. As I mentioned before, you basically navigate you pilot to the craft that you want and enter it. You can switch into first person to take a closer look at the crafts, and to gain information on them press the Y button.
The options button will take you to the Options menu. Here you can do a variety of things that you can do. When you hit options, you are taken to a screen with many options. When you press a button, you are transported to another menu. I will list each button and in parenthesis I will list what you can do in it. The buttons in the options menu are rogue leaders (displays the top ten players for each mission and medals earned), passcodes (here you can enter codes to unlock stuff), game settings (it allows you to adjust setting affecting the game), video Settings (allows you to switch between Interlacing and progressive scan), sound settings (adjusts the volume, sfx volume, toggles on or off for speech), and finally special features (has various goodies that can be unlocked).
Overall, the menu's in this game are some of the best I have ever seen. They are easy to navigate through and blend memorable scenes from the Star Wars movies with the menu interface. It looks very polished. As with most GameCube titles, the A button is used to select an option, B is used to cancel or go back, and the control stick is used to navigate through the menus.
The instruction booklet is decently done. Rogue Squadron was one of the primer games on the GameCube, so the instruction booklet is a bit different then possibly some of your other games. It doesn't say much about the story of the game. It pretty mush assumes that you have watched the movies before, which is a safe bet. It does a good job on telling you the controls for the game, and how to navigate through the menus. It also explains the icons shown on the screen and what they mean and how the affect the game play. Towards the end of the booklet, it describes some of the first aircrafts you will get to drive. This is done well, except someone used the same picture for the airspeeder and the A-wing. Besides that, it is well done.
Instruction Booklet: 8/10
Part of the fun of playing Rogue Squadron is trying to unlock everything in the game, and trust me; there is a lot to unlock. If you do not want to put in the time to unlock them, you can enter codes in to unlock them. There is a harder difficulty mode called ace mode to unlock. It makes enemies a lot harder. The enemies are more accurate with their shots and they fire faster. Beating the levels on ace mode earns you the ace medal.
There are also tons of secret ships, secret levels and upgrades to get as well. This adds a whole new dimension to the game. The extra levels are really fun, so be sure to try to unlock them. Some missions even let you play as Darth Vader. You can find upgrades secretly hidden in some levels, so exploring each level is key to unlocking these upgrades.
There are many other things to unlock that Star Wars fans will appreciate. There is an art gallery and a detailed making of documentary about how the game developers made the game. The movie is around 15 minutes long, so be sure to check it out. There are many other things to unlock as well such as the original game trailer, commentary during each mission and game music to listen to. Overall, the things that you can unlock in this game are amazing. Factor 5 has an unprecedented list of extras in this game that adds to the overall fun factor of the game.
Overall this is a well done game. Even though this was a launch title for the GameCube, the graphics are up to par with any of the games on today's consoles. The sound is also outstanding. The game play is good but can get boring at times. The game also assumes too much from its players. Factor 5 assumes that everyone playing this game has watched the movies and knows them well. There are times during the game when you may feel frustrated because you don't know why something happened or what to do next. This happens occasionally in the game, especially if you don't know much about Star Wars. The game play is good besides that. It is fun and feels very epic. You will get an adrenaline rush from some of the furious dogfights. The controls are easy to get the hang of after a while. Overall, this game is well done. Factor 5 worked feverishly to get this game out by the GameCube's release. If Factor 5 had more time, they might have been able to fix the small things wrong with this game, but this game is still excellent.
-One of the best Star Wars games ever
-Some great missions
-Some amazing dogfights
-Many un-lockable goodies
-Great menus that blend in real movie scenes
-Difficult at times
-Some minor slowdown
-Crafts do not handle realistically
-Frustrating game play at times
-Not much explanation of story
A must get for any Star Wars fan. A very good game even if you are not.
Game play: 8.3/10
Game Box: 8/10
Instruction Booklet: 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 9/10, Originally Posted: 08/05/04
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