Stay on target…
A short time ago, at an E3
not so far away, I got a chance to visit with the Jedi of LucasArts for a look
at the next exciting installment of the Rogue
Squadron series. Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike for the GameCube
takes us back to the classical age of the Star Wars saga when X-wings roamed the
hair buns were are all the rage and a poor young moisture farmer could become
the most powerful being in the galaxy.
gamers are quite familiar with Rogue Squadron‘s legacy of terrific space-based
combat, but the Factor 5 team is prepared to do something a little different
this time around. Naturally, we’ll still see plenty of action in X-wings, B-wings
and other things with wings, but how does a little planetside combat sound?
Take the controls of an AT-ST and pound the forest floor of Endor or hop on
a speeder bike (finally!) and race through the flora at breakneck speeds. Even
those smelly Tauntauns make an appearance on that chunk of ice called Hoth –
just don’t slice them open until you’ve gotten where you need to go. You’ll
even run missions afoot as Luke, Han and Wedge similar to what we saw in SW:
Clone Wars, LucasArts’ Prequel title. With a wide variety gameplay challenges
in and out of classic Star Wars vehicles, it looks like the Rogue series
has a new lease on life.
As with the other Rogue Squadron games, one of the best features is
being able to play through some your favorite events from the movies. In addition
to the ever-popular Death Star trench run with tons of TIEs flying everywhere,
I got a sneak peek at the groundside Battle of Endor. Manning the controls of
an AT-ST, I not only had the power to blast other Walkers, but I was also able
to set off rolling log traps and those nifty Walker head-smashing traps that
the Ewoks are so fond of. I know everyone has it out for the furry little muppets,
but you have to admit those forest traps were kind of sweet.
Another highlight of the Rogue Squadron series is its great presentation.
The two previous games helped defined the power of their respective machines
(Rogue Squadron on the N64, Rogue
Leader on the GC), and I’m happy to say that Rebel Strike features
graphics that will make gamers drool like a Gamorrean in an all-you-can-eat
buffet line. Running on a new engine, Rebel Strike does justice to its
predecessors with a blazing framerate and top-notch effects, and at times manages
to look even better with some very impressive flame and particle effects. The
game can handle many, many onscreen enemies at once, upping the ante of even
its forbear. Hardcore geeks will also appreciate the HDTV Progressive Scan support
and superior 5-channel Dolby sound.
The multi-player game has also gotten a facelift. Besides the advertised Endurance,
Capture the Base and Dogfight options, you’ll be able to co-op the entire campaign
of Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader! If that doesn’t say Star Wars love,
I don’t know what does.
So whether you’re a Star Wars nerd trying to
build your own stormtrooper armor or just an average Joe looking for a great
action fix, set your sights on Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, coming
this Fall to the GameCube.