Reviewed by Joshua Griffin
This is the system selling title for Nintendo. Yeah, they have Luigi, but does he deserve his own game fighting ghosts. Luke Skywalker always tops the list and it should be no surprise that if you buy a Gamecube, you're getting it because of this game. Xbox has Halo, which is amazing. Playstation 2 has Metal Gear Solid 2, which has some fantastic qualities. But here you're hanging out with Luke Skywalker, and let me tell you the Force is strong with this one.
This game is beautiful.
There's no doubt about it. In a small initial offering of titles for the new Nintendo Gamecube console, Rogue Leader from Factor 5 and LucasArts easily stands head and shoulders above the rest. Having played many of the first wave titles for the system, I was eager to stack up the next generation of Star Wars gaming into the player and was far from dissapointed.
In fact, I was impressed. Stunning high resolution graphics, stellar sound and effective gameplay round out a nearly perfect title. My only complaint I want to get out of the way right here at the top: this wasn't much of a stretch for the gaming veterans. Yes, there are some fantastic new tricks of the trade and twists on the established format, but all in all this is just a new cover to a familiar pillow. Of course, development on a new system you should first take the easy shot, the slam dunk, before you shoot the long ball. Swish.
But that aside from that it is simply amazing. I was impressed visually right off the bat, with the high resolution textures and environments nearly equalling that of the classic films. The sound engulfs you, and the use of Dolby Digital Surround is absolutely immersing if you are an audiofile. Tie fighters looked amazing, and they echoed the familar scream as the ran circles around me on the screen and in the surround channels.
Everything has shadows. In one scene there are literally hundreds of asteroids filling the screen, all rotating and slamming into each other breaking apart into smaller chunks. You scoot your fighter around huge capital ships with ease. Everything has real-time lighting and is rendered before your eyes at a liquid smoothe 60 fps. Pure eye candy.
The new Gamecube controller, while a bit small for my taste, is effectively employed and you'll need to use every button. The targeting computer is the newest addition to the mix, and it will aid you in finding critical mission objectives that in previous titles may have been obscured. There's buttons for weapons, secondary firings, multiple cameras, wingman commands and so much more. It will take some adjustment at first, but it is intuitive so a few missions into the game and it will have become second nature.
The missions are creative and follow the films losely, spending more time on the expanded universe role of Rogue Squadron. They vary from assault to destroy, and defend to escort. Plenty of variety, though only about a dozen normal missions may simply be too short for those expecting a drawn out conflict.
The medal system for replay value has never clicked for me, and I hope LucasArts is considering other options for the eventual sequel. If I pass a mission, that is all that matters to me so I can see the next one. But this is the LucasArts way, and getting higher placements for the medals unlocks new ships and levels. Worth the effort, though one that I usually avoid by trying to find a passcode after a few days.
There's simply no reason to avoid this title. Yes, you may have seen elements in Rogue Squadron (N64) and Battle for Naboo (N64), but there's enough new here and the amazing leap in quality to more than justify the purchase. While it isn't the deepest title and no where near the longest one you'll buy for Gamecube this year, it easily will be in the top two or three.
In all honesty, this is about the only real reason to own a Gamecube right now. It is the title you will show your friends when you come over. Think of it as the demonstration disc for your new Nintendo. If you bought the system or are hoping to get it as a Christmas gift, make sure Old Saint Nick tosses in this amazing game as well.
For comments or questions email the TFN Games Staff