Star Wars Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike
Like the two previous Rogue Squadron games, Rebel Strike gives you the chance to live out your greatest Star Wars starfighter-combat fantasies. But this trip around the galaxy also features an alternative itinerary, as now you're periodically forced to face action outside the cockpit. You'll race through the forests of Endor on a speederbike, hone your Jedi double-jumping skills on swampy Dagobah, and even rescue a bikini-clad Princess Leia while escaping a long, painful, boring death slowly digesting in a Sarlacc Pit's belly. Yes, these movie-moment missions all sound tremendously entertaining in theory, but most are woefully executed, sporting overly simplistic gameplay and lackluster visuals compared to the excellent flight stages. These problems are really evident when soon-to-be Jedi master Luke Skywalker or his unsung-hero wingman Wedge Antilles (Rebel Strike's two main playable characters) head out on foot. Then the game turns into a monotonous run-and-duck shooting parade in which the characters move with the same grace as a Star Wars action figure brought to herky-jerky life by a first-year Jedi-academy student. Thankfully, the direct opposite is true for this series' bread and butter--the flight segments. Once again, developer Factor 5 crafts a first-class aerial-combat experience. Whether flying high in the clouds escorting Rebel forces off the ice planet Hoth or discharging sonic-blast missiles (complete with that explosive guitar-riff sound effect) in the middle of an asteroid field above Geonosis, you're in for an intense and challenging ride in the sky. And Rebel Strike tops all that off with some incredibly slick bonuses, letting you test your dogfighting skills in a bevy of Versus battles and--best of all--play through all of prequel Rogue Leader's missions cooperatively alongside a buddy wingmate. Although I wish more flight missions found their way into the final product, those included are reason enough to try out Rebel Strike. But if you're expecting the ultimate all-encompassing Star Wars game, then you might want to move along, move along.
Rebel Strike is the Return of the Jedi of the Rogue Squadron series. It's got dazzling special effects and lots of white-knuckle action, but then it also packs plenty of groan-worthy moments. And easily the game's biggest downer--its equivalent to Jedi's Ewoks in cringe value--is the new on-foot gameplay. I hate to join Bryan and Joe in dumping on developer Factor 5 for trying to add something new to their flight-combat series, but these run-and-gun segments are awkward and dull exercises in simple button mashing. You just bound along clumsily (thanks to funky floaty physics) and blast enemies whose laser fire is nearly impossible to dodge. Meanwhile, you hope the camera doesn't get so screwy that you don't know what you're shooting at (which happens a lot in the indoor levels and when you battle the lame final boss). The good news: The on-foot segments are mercifully short. They only spoil about a third of the game. The other two-thirds--the deep-space dogfighting, speederbike racing, and other vehicle missions--are as thrilling and stunning as ever (even if a couple of levels on dustball-planet Ralltiir seem rushed). Just wait until you zip through Endor's forest on a speederbike, a pulse-quickening ride that's nearly worth the price of admission. And if that's not enough, getting to play the entire Rogue Squadron prequel in two-player co-op form seals the deal.
There's an unstated--although quickly obvious--rule in Rebel Strike: If you're in a vehicle, you're having fun. If you're not, you're really not having fun. As Bryan and Crispin have already pounded home, the addition of on-foot stages to the Rogue Squadron series--which has always been lauded for putting you in the cockpit of Star Wars' slickest flying machines--doesn't work out too well. When you slip on the shoes of Rebel heroes Luke Skywalker or Wedge Antilles so they can leave their ships, blasters in hand, the action is abruptly half as exciting, the perspective is suddenly awful, the platform hopping is awkward, and the screen is full of hollow-eyed characters who wander about woodenly and act dumb. Luckily, these sections are either small parts of missions or unlockable bonus stages, so while the newness of the on-foot sections garners them the most attention, their overall schlockyness doesn't detract from the overall Rebel Strike experience too much. The rest of the game is excellent, packed with missions that are extremely playable, exciting, and entertaining. And though there's something completely charming about engaging in X-wing-vs.-TIE-fighter dogfights in space or using a snowspeeder to snake a cable around an Imperial walker's spindly legs, the game doesn't simply rely on that. Rebel Strike isn't just rehashing glorious Star Wars moments that we've played in previous games, because here the missions have a lot of variety. Some even feature unfamiliar spacecraft or are set in slick new environments. The inclusion of the Rogue Leader missions as a two-player co-op mode is an icing-on-the-cake bonus, providing plenty to distract you away from the game's problems down on the planet's surface. I just wish you never had to abandon ship.
Download Star Wars Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Speederbike chases, AT-AT attacks, the escape from Jabba's palace, and every other classic Star Wars scenario finds new life in this jack-of-all-Jedi-trades action game.
HOW WAS IT?
The new on-foot missions feel a little wonky right now (it's obvious the constantly shifting camera has yet to be finalized), but my blurry-fast, white-knuckle-inducing speeder-bike trip through Endor's backwoods rocked my galaxy.