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North America

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

by David Trammell - November 23, 2001, 2:28 pm PST

9

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.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9.5 10 8.5 9 8 9
Graphics
9.5

Rogue Leader is GameCube’s flagship title when it comes to excellent graphics. The game features an insane amount of special effects (lighting, self-shadowing, bump mapping, specularity, you name it), and it even runs in 480p for the lucky few with thousand dollar TVs. I have to take off a half a point because of the minor framerate issues though. Rest assured that it isn’t a problem so much as it is an annoyance. The framerate tends to drop from perfect to merely playable on the planetary missions. Although it’s not a big deal, it does prevent the game from getting a perfect score in this area.

Sound
10

Rogue Leader supports 5 channel surround sound using the new Dolby Pro Logic II standard. Although I haven’t been able to hear the results myself, I’ve heard that is quite good. However, even in ancient stereo sound, Rogue Leader is a force to be reckoned with. The music is a combination of recordings from the movie and new tracks that are generated in real time by GameCube’s sound hardware. Amazingly, there is little to no audible difference between the pre-recorded and real-time music. Next we have great use of voices from the movie, great voice-alike actors for Luke and others, plus new lines recorded by Denis Lawson who played Wedge Antilles in the movies. Finally, the sound effects, taken directly from the movie’s sound archives are just good as the music.

Control
8.5

GameCube’s controller is really perfect for Rogue Leader. The game makes excellent use of the digital clicks, and the intuitive button layout is exploited nicely. The ability to look around your cockpit is a really great feature as well. On the negative side, the arcade flight controls do tend to make some maneuvers and navigating a bit tricky, especially for inexperienced gamers.

Gameplay
9

The game starts out easy enough and quickly gets very intense. However, you’ll soon find that the difficulty was really due to your lack of skill as you start working towards the silver and gold medals. The action/shooting gameplay is complimented by the mission based structure and the variety of ships for you to fly in and fight against.

Lastability
8

Although the basic game is not as long as I would like, there are five secret missions and many ships and surprises to unlock for those who take up the challenge of getting gold medals. In addition, the DVD like documentary and the audio commentary are truly revolutionary additions for any game. Hopefully we’ll see more features like this in the future.

Final
9

With a combination of great graphics and sound plus solid gameplay, Rogue Leader is an excellent way to spend your gaming dollars. It really captures the magic of the Star Wars universe and even provides a great experience for those unfamiliar with the popular franchise.

Summary

Pros
  • Beautiful graphics
  • Fast and furious gameplay
  • Tons of bonus material, ships and missions
Cons
  • Can be very difficult for inexperienced gamers
  • Framerate tends to drop a little on land based missions
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Shooter
Developer Factor 5
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Release Nov 09, 2001
PublisherLucasArts
RatingTeen
jpn: Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Release Mar 22, 2002
PublisherLucasArts
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