Game Over Online ~ Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

GameOver Game Reviews - Star Wars Rogue Squadron II:  Rogue Leader (c) LucasArts, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (c) LucasArts
System Requirements Nintendo GameCube
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Saturday, February 23rd, 2002 at 01:29 AM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Critics of the GameCube have cited that the launch titles Nintendo offered were all based on cartoons and oriented towards children. Rogue Leader was one of the few titles that bucked the trend. Rogue Leader is the sequel to a title developed by Factor 5 that debuted on the N64. It follows in the same vein as its predecessor in covering the events of the middle Star Wars trilogy; the one that no one has any complaints about. This takes you from the desert planet of Tatoonie to the icy planet of Hoth.

Rogue Leader plays like its sibling products from a third person fashion. You pilot all the classic Star Wars craft like the Y-Wing, X-Wing, A-Wing, B-Wing and snow speeders. And yes, you'll be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon as well. Because Rogue Leader is an arcade shooter at heart, the physics of the craft are not overly deep but there differences are much more pronounced than the recently released Starfighter. The Millenium Falcon is still able to execute fighter craft-like turns though and no matter what Hans Solo claims, I don't believe it's supposed to be able to do so. Granted, I understand Rogue Leader is ultimately constructed for the mass audience, it certainly does that job well. None of the controls appear anything less than intuitive on the GameCube.

One of the things that differ between a Star Wars sim on the PC and an arcade shooter on a console is the amount of information displayed. If you've seen a PC space sim, you know how many different dialog and gauge boxes can pop up during the game. Just looking at the key assignments for all the different functions of your craft is enough to intimidate console players. Things like tracking targets and prioritizing them has long been a PC trait but the developers have come up with a more elegant solution to that here. Rogue Leader features the infamous targeting computer and when you put it on, it highlights critical targets a certain color and classifies the information presented to you so you know how to proceed during the game. It's a novel and visual way of solving this problem without a glut of clutter on-screen.

You'd think a game could be boring when it covers nearly the same material as its predecessor and also covers one of the most well known franchises in the world verbatim. Rather than creating an ancillary plot with correlating characters, Rogue Leader makes no qualms about emulating, recreating and imitating the actual film franchise. The dialogue follows the film intact, which is definitely not a bad thing. Some of cinematic shots included are just like the real film and in fact, one of the major characters you play, Wedge Antilles, is voiced by the actor himself. Throughout Rogue Leader, you'll mostly be playing Wedge Antilles, although there are times you are going to play as Luke Skywalker. The tie-ins to the film actually merge some both the experience you get in cinema as well as the interactivity offered by a game.

Not all is the same as the film. Some of the things the characters do off-screen are actually performed by you in the game and I'm happy to say, none of it seems too far-fetched or too boring. The developers put you in the centre of action all the time. There are ten missions involved and they span from the first film with the initial attack on the Death Star to the epic Battle of Hoth. Along the way, you'll encounter some levels such as the Ison Corridor, which is something you don't see in the film trilogy. Typically, these artificial creations have always been a little suspect amongst gaming fans. They either don't fit in too well with the existing trilogy material or seem too derivative (boring) of the existing designs. Sometimes other developers use these custom creations as artificial ways of lengthening the game. Roundabout quests and aimless exploration are some of the symptoms. I have to say, the creative quality in Rogue Leader is consistent throughout.

Of course, these innovations would not come to fruition if it weren't for the graphical presentation of the title. Rogue Leader brings Star Wars graphics to the next stage of evolution. The level of the detail on the textures is so eerily close to what we see on the silver screen that you'll have time picking apart whether you're watching a DVD or playing a game. Considering everything in a Star Wars game is more or less grayish, the developers have made Rogue Leader into a vibrant title by incorporating a number of special effects like real-time lighting. If you haven't seen this in action, you really haven't played a Star Wars game yet. This is, visually, the most impressive Star Wars title, par excellence.

Rogue Leader scales up easily to support your home theatre hardware, including support for Dolby Pro Logic II, but regardless of what you play this on, you'll be able to appreciate its aural and visual brilliance. As with all LucasArts Star Wars titles, there's not much to complain about in the audio department. All of the effects are reproduced wonderfully and the engine of the game never stutters an effect or a word of speech. Its technical quality is matched by the effort put into the speech itself. With ten missions, you can bet that every line will be savoured by players and Rogue Leader provides some convincing voiceovers. Those lines that weren't originally in the film fit right in with the mold.

The ten missions can be completed in a short amount of time, relatively speaking, if you're a pro at this. Without multiplayer, replay value rests on gaining medals and finding secrets to gain access to extras. But in general, the few hours you will spend with this game will be one of the very best, so length hasn't become a problem. I am always for ten minutes of pure gaming nirvana, rather than sixty minutes of drawn out boring and mindless gameplay. Unfortunately, this title isn't that great for inviting your friends over since you can't play against them or with them. But spectators will have just as much fun watching the game, as well as playing it. Luckily, the enemy artificial intelligence puts up quite a fight. Unlike Starfighter, the emphasis is not on numbers but on skill. Some of the dogfights you get into are gripping and remind me a lot of the venerable franchises on the PC. The in-cockpit mode is still underdeveloped though. You can view left or right inside the cockpit but this action and the gauges displayed, are completely useless. I wish there was some way to make this part practical too, like the targeting computer.

Holistically speaking, Rogue Leader raises the bar again for the Star Wars franchise. I think for the foreseeable future, other developers and licensees will try to beat the immersion this title exudes. The developers, Factor 5, have shown themselves to be a master of the cinematic experience inside the trilogy framework and it would be exciting to see what they can come up with if they were provided with some of the prequel material. Simply reliving some of the exciting sequences, like the Death Star trench run, on modern equipment is an experience that is worth the price of admission itself. For those who are shying away because they've seen or played Hoth sequences in other titles, there is plenty of new material in here as well. Ultimately, Factor 5 picked a tough set of material to tackle. Most people remember, quite memorably, the feeling and awe of watching the original trilogy. But the developers have somehow engineered that adrenalin once again in Rogue Leader, capturing that filmmaking magic and placing you as the star of it all.


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