The force is strong in this GameCube launch title.
Why It’s List-worthy
Although Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader might be a bit of a mouthful to say, it remains one of the best looking GameCube titles to date. Not only that, but it even trumps the majority of Wii efforts on the market even though the successor to Nintendo’s purple Cube has been available for nigh five years. The thing that is the most surprising about Rogue Leader 10 years later is that it still holds up as one of the best (if not the best) Star Wars space shooters to date. At the time, the GameCube really helped show what set that console generation apart from the previous one both visually and aurally. Simply put, Rogue Leader does a wonderful job at portraying not only the locations and battles from the Star Wars universe, but the vehicles and general feel of the original trilogy.
The controls are also an area where Rogue Leader shines - and with a game this difficult, they certainly need to. Factor 5 worked closely with Nintendo many things with the GameCube and the full utilization of the controller is another perfect example of this. While many other third parties developing on the GameCube treated the unique controller with contempt, Factor 5 utilized nearly every aspect of the controller from the analog shoulder buttons to the D-pad. Not only that, but flying and controlling the vehicles was extremely well done and easy to pick up, though still difficult to master.
The Battle of Endor mission was everything fans of the original trilogy could have dreamed to find in a Star Wars game. Before that time, there were not many games, let alone Star Wars games, that had that many ships on the screen at the same time. This made for a movie-like experience that has yet to matched in a Star Wars game since.
Least Favorite Moment
Rogue Leader had a very cool feature that had your astromech droid repair your ship once your health reached a critical point where you are near death. Repairing the ship would restore your health completely minus the shields that you start out with. You would be able to perform this by pressing the D-pad when prompted. While this was a welcome and great addition to the game, the specific point when you had to press the D-pad was so precise, that is was incredibly difficult and at times impossible to do.
Surprised to See...
The documentary and audio commentary by Factor 5. It was absolutely fascinating to hear what Julian Eggebrecht and his team put in to the game with only nine months to work with. It’s a pity that very few development teams since have yet to take the time to include interesting special features like this into their games.