Game Description: In Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II, you'll take on the role of Luke Skywalker and engage in some of the fiercest battles in the Star Wars trilogy.
Nearly two and a half decades have passed since the original Star Wars movies hit theater screens. In that time, the saga has grown from the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia into a mythic universe full of stories. It has also grown into a merchandise mega-machine, inundating consumers with action figures, books, comics, toy lightsabers and, of course, videogames.
The success of Star Wars videogames has been a decidedly hit-and-miss venture. After a few attempts in the 1980s, Star Wars hit videogame consoles in prime form with the Super Star Wars trilogy, which veterans of the Super Nintendo system regard as an excellent gaming interpretation of the original trilogy. The X-Wing and TIE Fighter computer titles brought gamers the chance to take control of George Lucas' legendary vehicles in a flight simulator fashion. Despite these titles' dated graphics, computer gamers still brag about how cool it is to pilot the space fighters. More recent Star Wars titles, like Episode I Racer and Jedi Power Battles, met a luke-warm reception from gamers. This might be caused by stigma from the unfamiliar territory the Star Wars prequels cover or because those games felt like titles slapped together to make the merchandising/hype workhorse bleed every penny it could from consumers. History has shown a good Star Wars game depends upon the motive of LucasArts: is it a genuinely well thought-out and well-produced game, meant to expand upon George Lucas' mythic universe, or is it a rushed product meant to accompany the hype of the latest episode?
Factor 5 created a stable foundation with the original Nintendo 64 title, Rogue Squadron. Gamers took control of X-Wings and all other subsequent -Wings in a variety of missions, following a story that takes place between Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars fans got a little taste of the story behind the formation of Rogue Squadron, the flight group that had already been established by the time Empire Strikes Back began. Rogue Squadron had all the elements that make Star Wars an engaging experience. It was a character-driven story that expanded upon the Star Wars story.
I was expecting something similar with Factor 5's sequel, Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II. The new title upgrades the visuals and gameplay of the original and even manages capture the sights, sounds and intensity of the Star Wars trilogy. Unfortunately, the new title feels kind of dry, with no cohesive story pulling all the elements together. Rogue Leader plays out missions that span the entire original trilogy. Most fans will recognize the general plot of the trilogy, but the absence of any story elements makes Rogue Leader feel like a bunch of mission slapped together for no apparent reason. It's a good thing many people are familiar with Star Wars, since Rogue Leader takes explaining the significance of a certain battle for granted. I get the vague suspicion that Rogue Leader is merely a showcase titlesomething LucasArts and Factor 5 have presented to demonstrate the GameCube's capabilities.
The original trilogy time frame also hurts Rogue Leader in originality. The recreations of famous Star Wars space battles have never felt or looked better, but how many times have we played through a version of the Death Star run? LucasArts might be overestimating gamers' nostalgic need to play through classic Star Wars moments, neglecting to give them new situations and characters to explore. Rogue Leader has its share of missions not based on the trilogy, but these are hardly original either since they borrow exact situations from the original Rogue Squadron. Gamers will find several parallels between missions in Rogue Squadron and Rogue Leader. The mission on Cloud City in Rogue Leader, for example, plays similarly to the Cloud City-look-a-like in Rogue Squadron.Gamers will also play through a rescue mission similar to the mission on the plant Kessel in the first game.
None of these factors makes Rogue Leader a bad game. If I had to name the most visually impressive GameCube title produced so far, I'd say Rogue Leader takes the top spot. While it might not have any story in place, the title excels in creating an atmosphere that is distinctly Star Wars. The sound of the laser cannons blasting from the wing tips of the X-Wing, the distinct roar of TIE Fighter engineseven the way ships explode is right on the mark. Rogue Leader looks and sounds as realistic as it can be, considering most of the technology in Star Wars is fictional. A gamer will most likely enjoy the time spent with Rogue Leader. I enjoyed every moment of every mission, but I was expecting more than accurately recreated lights and sounds.
Rogue Leader probably will never stand out in my mind as the definitive Star Wars videogame experience. Fans of Star Wars fell in love with the movies because of the characters and the story. I've found that most Star Wars games at least develop an interesting story, if not always the best gameplay. Rogue Leader falls short in developing a story, which sort of breaks the paradigm in what determines whether a Star Wars game is good or bad. Rogue Leader does not follow the hype of any current Star Wars film, but it also doesn't expand upon the Star Wars universe. It sort of hangs in limbo as a title that is pretty, but doesn't hold much underneath the exterior.
Caleb's Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II review brings up several valid points in regards to the titles beautiful graphics, lack of story and unoriginal missions. While I agree with his assessment for the most part, I feel a few points weren't stressed enough or overlooked.
The lack of originality in the titles missions is what really kills it. As Caleb brought to light before, there were a few levels that mirrored the previous Nintendo 64 installment and several classic Star Wars battles, but I feel this point should be stressed more. I just don't understand why they couldn't have created a few more original missions for this title. There were a couple exceptions, but only two at most. The most disappointing thing about the new missions is that they are really fun. They offer players the chance to switch up craft in flight and even use the GameCube's internal clock to determine the time of day for levels located on planets. Had this kind of creativity been present throughout the title, it would have pushed this game above average.
Something I feel was missed in the previous review is the length of Rogue Leader. With several of the Nintendo 64 titles levels making a return appearance, the game felt incredibly short. Had there been a few more original missions offered on this title it might have made a difference. However, I had already played these missions in the previous installment, and I was left wanting more.
Caleb also failed to mention the overwhelming difficulty in the final few stages. The game starts on a simple difficulty curve that skyrockets as you near the end. The sheer amount of ships that must be destroyed, or the daunting task of keeping your craft in one piece is very aggravating. Now I am very adamant about not using codes to complete a game but I broke down and had to use an unlimited lives cheat just to complete the title.
Like Caleb, I feel that LucasArts titles are either an expansion on the Star Wars universe or just another rushed product to beat the merchandising horse. I was expecting Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II to be similar to its predecessor by expanding George Lucas' wondrous universe. However, Rouge Leader is nothing like its predecessor. It may have a couple innovative ideas, but there's not enough to make this title shine.
According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Language, Violence
Parents don't really need to worry about Rogue Leader. The Star Wars universe is generally a safe place for people of all ages to enjoy a little clean adventuring. There's no foul language or gore, just fantasy space battles that almost any gamer can pick up and enjoy.
Star Wars fans will want to pick up Rogue Leader, even though it is rather short and unoriginal in execution. Despite the fact that Rouge Leader brings no new element into the Star Wars universe, the recreations of the battles from the original movies are the best any gamer will experience thus far.
People who might have been disheartened by the unfamiliar content of the Star Wars: Starfighter series will think of Rogue Leader as a breath of fresh air. Fans of the space shooter genre might also want to try Rogue Leader. However, if you've grown up on the Star Wars computer games like X-Wing and TIE Fighter, you're not going to find as much in-depth detail of piloting the starships.
New GameCube owners trying to find the pick of the litter from the few titles out for the system should definitely consider Rogue Leader. The game shows exactly the kind of capability the GameCube was made for. You might find this sequel to be uninspired if you enjoyed the originals. However, you'll probably enjoy reliving some of the favorite Star Wars moments again.