Pew, pew, pew! Hear that, mate? Do you hear that? That's the sound of blaster fire. Pew, pew, pew! Beautiful Star Wars gun noises, with the emphasis on gun. We don't do your fancy space swords around these parts, you see, this is real boots on the ground warfare, ain't no floating about in spaceships with your bleepy bloopy maintenance droids, flinging stuff about with your midichlorian mind tricks or twirling about in a cape with a daft wee lightsaber. This is Delta Squad.
Back in 2005, LucasArts dropped Star Wars: Republic Commando, serving up an unusually dark and gritty slice of space opera action that saw us pull on the tactical helmet of a clone trooper, the leader of a four-strong elite squad no less, and tasked us with blasting our way across rain-soaked Geonosis, through droid factories, assault ships and even the forests of Kashyyyk - that's the planet where all those big hairy guys come from, innit.
A far cry from the complex grand strategy games and epic RPGs us old-timers were used to when it came to all things Star Wars back in the dark ages, this tactical FPS keeps things short and sweet, giving us a zippy ten hour campaign full of non-stop action to get stuck into, and it's action that still holds up surprisingly well to this day as a result of its unfussy, straightforward, Halo-esque gameplay style. Lift up your blaster, grab some grenades and let's go team!
Yes, via the magic of Xbox backwards compatibility, I've been playing Star Wars: Republic Commando again recently - it's cheap right now as part of the ongoing Star Wars sale on Xbox Live don't you know - and I'm still in love with how it serves up its uniquely dank take on George Lucas' universe. I'm still in love with its fancy helmet HUD that gives you all critical battle info front and centre - removing the need to go rifling though in-game menus - in love with how I can just grab mods from the floor and switch up my gun instead of painstakingly upgrading stuff, and in love with the simplicity of its squad order system; go here, blow this up, slice that console, snipe that droid's head off. Good lad!
OK, look, on the downside we didn't get treated to the recent ever-so-slightly remastered version of Commando that PS4 and Switch players got their hands on in 2021, the graphics here are a little muddy and drab from time to time (although the game is enhanced for Xbox One X and Xbox Series X), but, besides a few visual pitfalls here and there, everything else has held up remarkably well and plays as slick as you like on today's hardware, resulting in a Star Wars game that I, the Star Wars-liker, still regard as my favourite out of all the old-school classics you can grab for cheap in this week's Star Wars Day Xbox Live sale. It's that good. No, really. Stop looking at me like that.
Instead of getting bogged down in bloated lore, confused by archaic controls or put completely to sleep by long-winded storylines that feel compelled to link every single character and event back to the movies and books in a yawn-inducingly complex way, here you get to order Sev, Fixer and Scorch around and throw grenades at big insects. Have you met Sev, Fixer and Scorch yet? They're top lads, proper banter merchants. You also get to switch your helmet visor to low light mode so everything looks gritty and hyper-realistic like those bits in Splinter Cell, or like all the grim and grainy low-light Iraq war footage that was all over the news back when this game originally released, if we want to go all serious for no reason for a second, which we don't. It's so unusually dark for a Star Wars game.
Also, the graphics may well suck a little by today's standards (just a little mind), but the audio work still absolutely holds up. Check out the static-filled radio comms from desperate comrades during pew-pew shootouts and all those lovely gun noises and explosions pulled straight from the movies. The constant enemy droid chatter is on-point too and various excerpts from John Williams' epic scores are inserted at just the right time during battles to give you that Star Wars tingle. The...the Star Wars tingle? You...you know, when there's a Star War happening and you start to feel all....eh...never mind.
Even Delta Squad's AI still holds up by today's standards. Sure, they may not be doing much other than hacking a door or sniping from a pre-ordained position for the most-part, but when you really need them, when they're called on to concentrate their fire and get involved, well, they get the job done.
Anyway, look, if you're considering indulging in the Star Wars Day sale before it ends on May the 4th (no idea why they've picked that date btw) I urge you, especially if you've yet to play it, to dive into Star Wars: Republic Commando. Put down your lightsaber, take off your silly little cape, cut it out with the mind tricks, forget about all the long-winded lore and get down and dirty with Delta Squad. It's what George Lucas would have wanted.
George Lucas isn't dead by the way, it's just what he would have wanted.
May the force bless you all, every last one.
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Will you be grabbing Star Wars: Republic Commando from the Star Wars sale? What's your own personal favourite game from a galaxy far, far away? Let us know in the comments.