Rogue Leader was perhaps the most anticipated title of GameCube’s launch. Does it live up to the hype?
I’m a really big Star Wars fan, and although I didn’t like Battle for Naboo that much, the original Rogue Squadron was one of my favorite N64 games. This combined with Rogue Leader’s stunning screenshots and presentation at E3 definitely put it near the top of my most wanted games list. Fortunately, it really does live up to the hype and even excels it in many ways.
In the original Rogue Squadron, the missions were mostly based on obscure battles and tasks that took place in the time between the movies (as told by the numerous novels). However, Rogue Leader really ups the ante in this department by providing plenty of true-to-the-movies action. More than half of the missions are related to the movies in meaningful ways and many of them put you directly into the action. You’ll get to take on both Death Stars at some point, Star Destroyers in the battle of Endor, numerous Imperial forces while defending Hoth and much more. You’ll get to visit the beautiful Cloud City on Bespin and you’ll even get to defend the Millennium Falcon from a nest of TIE Fighters if you’re skillful enough to earn medals. Never before have so many of these awesome battles been portrayed in such a package. Even the missions that don’t directly relate to the movies weren’t just pulled out of nowhere. For example, your mission on Kothlis is to retrieve data that is vital to destroying the second Death Star. This was referred to in the dialogue from the movies, but never actually shown.
The gameplay in Rogue Leader hasn’t really changed a lot from the original game, but it is different in some ways and more refined all around. The much smoother framerate really facilitates the fast nature of the gameplay for one. The graphics and sound are naturally more intense and this really helps to immerse you in the game. Most enemy targets take a lot less hits than they did in the original, however there are a lot more of them to fight against this time. The sheer number of enemies to attack can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s always very cool to see dozens of TIE Fighters as opposed to three or four. Although the game itself can be beaten fairly quickly, it is very difficult at times. That’ll slow you down quite a bit depending on how good of a gamer you are. Of course, after you beat the game, you’ll want to improve your skills and obtain medals so you can unlock the numerous secret missions, ships and features.
As most of you already know, Rogue Leader is a visual and aural masterpiece. The game has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a next-generation game including bump mapping and 480p support on the visual end, and five channel surround sound via Dolby Pro Logic II on the aural end. Rogue Leader will definitely give your home entertainment system a workout. My only complaint is that the framerates dip a bit every now and then (it dips a little on the land based missions and anytime you get too close to a major explosion—which isn’t very often thankfully). Minor framerate quibbles aside, Rogue Leader is one of the best looking and best sounding games I’ve ever played.
After playing through Rogue Leader, I can definitely recommend it to anyone looking for some solid action gaming and any fan of the Star Wars trilogy. From the moment you see the movie clips playing in the background on the title screen you’ll love this game. Even when your ship is spiraling into a mountain with flames engulfing it, you’ll love this game. For fans of the movies, Rogue Leader is a dream come true, yet it’s still a great game for anyone.