The lights are on
When LucasArts officially became a part of the Disney empire a couple weeks ago, there was plenty of discussion concerning the future of Star Wars video games.
Out of all the Star Wars video games, the one that I would like to see get a sequel the most is Republic Commando. Republic Commando was a fun shooter that gave players an interesting perspective of the Star Wars universe, and unfortunately it never received the follow-up it deserves.
What it is:
Star Wars: Republic Commando launched in 2005 on Xbox and PC. It is a tactical first-person-shooter that puts players in the armored boots of a highly skilled Clone soldier named Delta RC-1138, usually referred to as “Boss.” As the leader of Delta Squad, players have command over three other squad mates: “Scorch,” “Fixer,” and “Sev.” Players can give orders to the members of Delta Squad through the use of context-sensitive commands. Pointing the targeting reticle at objects around the environment opens up various tactical possibilities. For instance, aiming the reticle at some crates may allow Boss to send one of his squad mates to cover; pointing it at a location with a high vantage point can send Sev to a sniping position; and the list goes on.
The single-player campaign of Republic Commando follows Delta Squad over the span of a few years during the Clone Wars, as they carry out objectives which are integral to the Republic’s war effort. Throughout their journey, Delta Squad conducts missions in three different locations: the planet Geonosis, a previously missing assault ship named The Prosecutor, and the Wookie home world of Kashyyyk. I didn’t get much entertainment from Episode II, but Republic Commando honed in on the one thing I actually liked about that movie: the Clone Wars. Not only that, but I got to feel like I was playing a key role in the war that went unseen in the film. While the regular clones were out getting blasted and the Jedi were having their fancy acrobatic lightsaber fights with the enemy, I was with Delta Squad doing the unsung dirty work of the war.
When it stopped:
As far as video games are concerned, Republic Commando was brought to a halt after its debut back in 2005. Beginning in 2004 and continuing through 2009, there were five Republic Commando books released which expanded the Commando fiction, with the fifth book focusing on Imperial Commandos. However the books mainly focus on Omega Squad, so the story of Delta Squad doesn’t venture much further than Republic Commando’s credits. According to Wikipedia, before Republic Commando’s release, a sequel called Imperial Commando was being developed, but it was canceled early in the process.
What comes next:
I was unprepared for Republic Commando’s abrupt ending. The squad has to leave Sev behind on Kashyyyk as the Republic’s invasion begins and his fate is left uncertain. The remaining members of Delta Squad receive new orders and prepare to embark on their next mission…and then the credits role. From a story standpoint, I would love to see another Republic Commando pick up right where the first one left off. I want to know what happened to Sev; I want to see what Delta Squad’s next mission is, and how they would cope without having Sev as a part of the team. I would also be happy with a sequel set further down the timeline, during the transition from Republic Commandos to Imperial Commandos, either from the viewpoint of Delta or from a new squad of clones. Switching from protecting and working with the Jedi to hunting them down could make for an interesting narrative.
I would also hope that a Republic Commando sequel would retain the tactical style of gameplay of the original. The contextual ways that I could give orders to Delta Squad allowed for action that was fast paced and fluid while still retaining a tactical feel. Sure, there have been other shooters set in the Star Wars universe, such as Battlefront, Shadows of the Empire, and Dark Forces, but Republic Commando’s gameplay felt different. It was always a fun challenge trying to figure out how to maximize your squad’s effectiveness in each encounter.
I think the squad mechanics would carry over quite well into a modern shooter. A sequel could expand upon the range of possibilities that players have when commanding their squad, along with more complex and varied level design that would allow for more freedom in approaching each encounter. More advanced squad and enemy AI would be a very welcome addition to a sequel as well. Sometimes the enemies in Republic Commando made things a little too easy by just standing still in the open. Finally, the squad-based style of Republic Commando would lend itself incredibly well to online co-op. There’s nothing wrong with having a squad of AI-controlled characters, but playing as a Commando along with a squad of three or four other humans sounds like a blast.
I’m not holding my breath for the next Republic Commando, but in light of recent news, I can’t help having a small glimmer of hope that someday my years-long wait for a sequel may come to an end.