Game Review

Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Martin Watts

Three's a crowd

Factor 5 struck gold when it released the sublime Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for the Nintendo 64 way back in 1998/1999. Then, in 2001/2002, the development studio topped this already impressive feat with the astounding Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. So when it announced that it had a third Rogue Squadron game in the works — and for the GameCube no less — there was good reason to be excited. However, it soon turned out that the Force just wasn't quite as strong when it came to this third and final instalment in the series.

Now, it's fair to say that Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike has all the workings of a great game; it is, after all, a direct follow-up to the superb Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. Nevertheless, this title fails in comparison to its predecessor not because it is any less technically impressive, but rather there is a clear lack of focus or direction in terms of the game's design. It's obvious that Factor 5 wanted to distinguish it from previous games in the series by implementing new gameplay ideas. The problem, however, is that these changes are detrimental to the overall experience; it's severely lacking in the gameplay and fun departments.

This time around, rather than focusing solely on key events from the film trilogy, Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike attempts to tell an original story set within the same period. Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles and Co. must deal with a traitor among their ranks. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work, mainly because it's spread out over an unnecessarily long period. Moreover, Luke and Wedge have separate story trees that can be played independently of one another. As a result, it's hard to get a sense that events in one story arc are impacting the other, unless you specifically know the order in which to play the missions.

The plot does revisit some of the key moments, usually to give a player a different perspective of a mission from a previous game. For example, Battlefield Hoth follows Luke's escapades after his snowspeeder gets shot down in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, while Triumph of the Rebellion focuses on the ground battle that takes place on Endor's moon near the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

This is where one of the title's most considerable changes to the series comes into play; no longer are you bound to a starfighter, and instead, many of the missions involve on-foot and ground vehicle segments. The latter works well for the most part, with the AT-ST missions proving to be quite fun, if a bit linear in their design. When it comes to the on-foot sections, however, it's a completely different story; clunky controls, awkward camera angles and uninspired, unchallenging combat all go hand-in-hand to create an incredibly dull and tedious experience. Your character's weapon automatically locks on to enemy soldiers meaning that these on-foot sections amount to little more than mindless button bashing. The majority of these sections occur at some point during most planet-side missions, and when they do, they really kill the pace.

It's a real shame that these sections feature so prominently, because this game does have some genuinely brilliant moments — it just so happens to be the case that nearly all of these are when you're in a starfighter. One of Factor 5's aims with Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike was to clean up the visuals and allow for more enemies to appear on-screen simultaneously. In this regard, it has definitely succeeded, with many of the dogfights featuring an overwhelming number of enemy fighters, with little to no slowdown. The only problem, however, is that these moments are simply too far and few between, with the ground vehicle and ghastly on-foot sections cropping up more often than they should. While you can't blame a developer for wanting to try something new, the changes make little sense when it already had a brilliant gameplay formula that wasn't in need of fixing.

The pacing is further exacerbated by the poorly executed cut-scenes. Most of these seem badly edited, with constant cuts to a black, blank screen occurring every few seconds or so. Sometimes this is to signify a new scene, but other times it happens during the very same scene, without any perspective change whatsoever. While the former is understandable, the latter is completely unacceptable, and makes it difficult for you to immerse yourself in the story. It doesn't make sense why this occurs in so many places, especially when it is of no benefit to the player.

Much like the previous title in the series, Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike again suffers as a result of being woefully short. There are a good number of bonus missions to unlock, yet many of these take place on foot and, thus, aren't very fun. Nevertheless, the game has one ace up its sleeve in the form of its cooperative multiplayer. This is perhaps the best reason for buying this game, as it allows you to play through Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader's story mode with a friend. It's nothing short of spectacular, mainly because it still looks fantastic and runs exceptionally well. Tweaks have been made to some of the missions which provide each player with a specific role. For example, in the mission Imperial Academy Heist, you have to steal the shuttle Tydirium (as seen in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi). Originally you were on your own, whereas here you not only have an extra wingman, but that second player also becomes a rear gunner on the shuttle when you steal it, making it a slightly easier, yet still frantic experience. Otherwise, there's a versus multiplayer mode, but it's limited to only two players and, as a result, is far less action-packed and exciting than the meaty cooperative campaign.

Conclusion

Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike is a disappointing title, as a result of a number of issues that could have easily been avoided. Factor 5 chose to mix up the series' tried-and-tested gameplay formula by shoehorning in on-foot segments that simply don't work. Moreover, these sections — as well as the poor plot and cut-scenes — detract from the game's few great moments. The exciting and fast-paced aerial/space combat that the series is renowned for is woefully underused, despite the fact that this is when the game is at its most fun. The inclusion of a cooperative mode which allows you and a friend to play through nearly all of the second game is this title's saving grace and should be the main reason for anyone considering it. Otherwise, this is a mostly passable affair, which is a great shame given the series' impressive legacy.

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User Comments (43)

grenworthshero

#1

grenworthshero said:

Woooow, 5/10 is pretty harsh. I agree the on-foot sections were not implemented well and they do kill the pacing, but it hardly makes the game so horribly average. There are still some legitimately great moments and I'd give it a 9/10 at its best and a 6/10 at its worst.

Shiryu

#2

Shiryu said:

Totally worth getting for the multiplayer options alone, but this was truly the beginning of the end for Factor 5...

JayceJa

#3

JayceJa said:

never played this one, but from what i've heard elsewhere a 5 seems a tad low, was expecting a 6, but having never played it, what do i know, haha

ill probably pick this up sometime if i ever see it cheap for the multiplayer mode

Trikeboy

#4

Trikeboy said:

5 is a bit harsh but I totally agree that it is not as good as the second game. The flying levels and multiplayer were fun. Also, the on foot stage where you hijack an AT-AT walker was fun as was training to be a Jedi on Dagobah.

moroboshi

#5

moroboshi said:

Factor 5 produced amazing looking games for the time, and got more out of the Gamecube hardware than anyone else. Their games though, despite the technical brilliance, were always on the weak side.

TruenoGT

#6

TruenoGT said:

It's been many years since I owned and played this, but (save for the on-foot missions) I absolutely loved it at the time. It was super addicting to go for the medals on each stage and this may have been one of my most played GC games overall. Kind of want to track down a copy now!

Aqueous

#7

Aqueous said:

Yeah, a bit harsh. It isn't that bad, though the foot sections weren't the best.They still were not that bad and the auto lock helped deal with the aiming of facing one enemy and shooting them. Also I haven't played in a long time but I remember playing Luke's levels was more playing the original trilogy from after episode 4 on wards, rather than a new story.

retro_player_22

#8

retro_player_22 said:

This game ain't as bad as it seem, it's a decent 7/10 to me. It's just that I enjoy the first two more.

rjejr

#9

rjejr said:

This review sounds a lot like the one Adam Sessler gave on X-play back when he had the fiesty little red-headed sidekick. I was never a big Morgan Webb fan.

This game had nowhere to go but down after 2. Though I kinda feel like the whole industry reached its apex w/ the unveiling of 2, I think it was at Spaceworld. Nothing has impressed me as much since. Old and jaded I am, easily impressed I am not.

Luffymcduck

#11

Luffymcduck said:

Wow, 5. I liked this even if it has flaws. RS2 in co-op mode is a great extra and proves that more games should have a co-op mode. WiiU seems to have understood this.

TwilightV

#12

TwilightV said:

This score actually seems appropriate, but I disagree about it's saving grace. That would be the old arcade games you unlock and the room you get to play them in.

Giygas_95

#13

Giygas_95 said:

My brother and I loved this back in the day. I'd say more like 8/10, but to each his own.

WesGrogan

#15

WesGrogan said:

I agree with this, and a lot of that is because I've played it again recently. Playing it now really advertises all of the shortcomings in the control, pacing, plotting, and replay value. It definitely has not aged well.

Peach64

#16

Peach64 said:

A 5 is about right. Bang on the middle of the scale. Average. A big step down from the first two.

Rawk_Hawk

#17

Rawk_Hawk said:

I don' t think its a 5. Its better than that. Its easy to overlook the games flaws

WinterWarm

#18

WinterWarm said:

Can it be? Oh thank ye! Now my funds are free! FE:A DLC, buying them I'll be! I Know the game is mediocre, I was hoping for a double-yoker in Star Wars reviews, so that I might explore new revenues, but I just about blew a fuse, when I really began to muse, on how my funds to use! But now I know the way to go, Yoda? Heck no.

Oh dear! Bandits and Risen have come but fear not, for their stomach is in a knot, their fighting all is for nought, when they realize how we've previously fought, they'll be begging for life, but only will they get strife! A audience is attempted, only to be met with contempt. Lances fly, don't ask why! Beat this dastards until they cry! We have Flavia and Basilio to thank! With their troops, into war we swooped! Ah! Freedom is sweet, the enemy is beat, but wait! BACK ON YOUR FEET! There be more enemies to meet! A sister lost to a mad man, so they say, can you be swift enough to save the day? But fret not, no matter what, well have you fought! Such evil is King Gangrel, at night, he should be met with strangle! Who is this woman, Aversa? At a later time, sides will she reverse'a! Ah, beloved FE:A, I could play you all day, but I must be swift, something is amiss, what is this? Valm wages war, they wish to see our continent tore! 'Tis too great a threat to ignore! Oh, what evil! Swords cut down the common man, that is common, in this land! But do not fear, Say'ri is here! Batting down foes, even in her time of woes. Ah, but victory is yet to come, the Dragon's call strike's fear into all! A sacrifice must be made, shall it be his own blood's magic, or the exalted blade? The choice, it be yours, wars will end, broken bonds will amend! Forever will the bards sing! "Oh, how the swords swung! Oh, how the bows danced! Oh, how the axes sang! Oh, how the lances flew! Some, mistakenly at you!" Ah, love shall be found, the fortunes shift, round and round! The cry of battle! It is nigh! Wipe away those tears, it's time to fly! Love, so unrequited, even though one is to dumb-witted too know, the other's true intentions will show! The dragon, with bitter hatred falls on the Grimleal, oh what fun, watching them squeal! Death is final, for those brave enough to embrace it, while other's disgrace it! Do not fear, the Shepherds are here! Their courage and weapons ring out loud and clear! They have your backs, not one of them slacks, save for the one forgot his axe! Fearsome weapons they carry, so much do they vary! Swords to words written, lethal especially when they be smitten! You cannot unwrite what is written! So they said, before by the Shepherds were they stabbed in the head. In the end, the future law was bend. Heroism is Love. We are not pawns in some scripted fate, the bonds we make are what strengthen us.

Macarony64

#19

Macarony64 said:

Worst review ever. Ground missions where not that bad the bad parts where the on foot sections. Those realy suck.

unrandomsam

#20

unrandomsam said:

I wish modern games were reviewed in a similar way to that. Not artificially inflated scores.

skjia

#21

skjia said:

This actually seems about right to me. I remember being extremely disappointed in this game after the first two being amazing. The only mission that left any impression on me was the one where you steal the Imperial Shuttle they use in Jedi (that was this game, right?).

SkywardCrowbar

#22

SkywardCrowbar said:

7/10, maybe 7.5/10. I enjoyed the multiplayer a fair amount, and the flight missions were still really good. I enjoyed the Endor AT-ST mission a lot, too. Too harsh of a score!

Austroid

#23

Austroid said:

I thoroughly enjoy this game even to this very day.

The review was a bit hostile towards anything that wasn't a mission set solely in a ship. Truth be told its nice to have a variety of missions, especially when you're on foot. Because in RS II, I never felt like I was with any human beings; just ships with voice chatter every so often. Its also fun playing missions straight out of the movies too, on foot and all. They give fans a rush of nostalgia with short clips from the films set throughout those missions that gives it the extra does of memorable moments from the OT.

I'd personally give Rebel Strike a 8.0.

crumpledpapyrusStaff

#24

crumpledpapyrus said:

I remember being monumentally disappointed with this game... The pacing and the on-foot missions were the worst parts for me. Those co-op missions are brilliant, though!

Tornado

#26

Tornado said:

The review should've mentioned the inclusion of the old arcade games; for those of us old enough to remember the 1980s A New Hope arcade game, that's a definite bonus (that should bump it up one point at least, IMO).

WesCash

#27

WesCash said:

A 5? Really? Unbelievable. Easily an 8 or 9 out of 10 for me. I still go back to this game every now and then. One of the GC's best and I'd love to see Rogue Squadron make a comeback.

Zodiak13

#29

Zodiak13 said:

That's because we are not on a FE:A thread. I skipped over it @WhoBeThat. But I read it after 2nd post. Seems ok, but I'm not into that kinda stuff. As long as you had fun creating it!!

Zodiak13

#30

Zodiak13 said:

I actually disagree with the review, which is unusual on this site. I only think the foot missions dampened my fun to a small degree. I would give it a 7. Thanks for the review anyway Martin.

KeeperBvK

#32

KeeperBvK said:

A 5? Sorry, but that's just ridiculous. The on-foot sections weren't all that good, but even they alone would warrant a 5/10, so when considering that they are only a minor part of a game that's otehrwise 9/10-worthy, a final score of 5 is just - I already said it - ridiculous.

XyVoX

#34

XyVoX said:

Listen most people who followed this series from Factor 5 know fully well about the on foot segments and also know fully well that this game is a solid 7 or 8 so 5 aint making sense to the masses on this one i can tell ya.

MakeMyBiscuit

#35

MakeMyBiscuit said:

Thanks for the review. I too think a 5 is a little low. I actually appreciated the variety in the game play and Factor 5 could push the Gamecube hardware like no one else outside of Nintendo itself. I would say at "least" a 7 if not more. Again I am a proud owner of the complete Rougue Squadron trilogy . Too bad Factor 5 was not able to do a re-release on the Wii. Is it even possible for Nintendo to do a remasted HD Rougue Squadron trilogy release on the Wii U? That would be epic indeed. If no one at Nintendo can or has the time to do it, give it to Retro Studios :)

Jukilum

#36

Jukilum said:

@MakeMyBiscuit Nintendo can't do that because they don't own the Star Wars license nor, as far as I'm aware, did they have anything to do with the development of these games. Disney owns the rights.

BulbasaurusRex

#38

BulbasaurusRex said:

I, too, think a 5 is too harsh. While the on-foot missions are disappointing, they're not terrible, and the game is almost worth getting just for the brilliant co-op multiplayer mode. Add in the usual excellent starfighter sections, the good ground vehicle sections, and the retro arcade games, and the whole is at least above average.

Mr_Vengeance

#39

Mr_Vengeance said:

Superb review, and bang on - this game was a major disappointment back in the day, and arguably the reason for Factor 5's closure. Ahead of its time with graphics that easily stand up today, this game also has some of the most appalling moments in the Gamecube's line-up. The definition of a mixed bag.

CaPPa

#40

CaPPa said:

@Mr_Vengeance
Lair on the PS3 would be the reason for their closure.

I'd give Rebel Strike 8/10. It was a bit disappointing after the first two games but still a good game. Lucasarts/Disney/Nintendo really need to rerelease these games on the Wii U.

Tra_Venous

#42

Tra_Venous said:

I'd give it an 8/10 - the on foot missions were lacking, but everything else handled perfectly. the title as a whole was jam packed full of content, it looked and sounded great, 2 player mode rocked, and the presentation was everything you'd hope for in a Star Wars game.

MakeMyBiscuit

#43

MakeMyBiscuit said:

@CaPPa

I actually got Lair for the PS3 and with the patch that fixes the controls it's a great game with a unique story line, great graphics and awesome action. Too bad people didn't give it a chance after the patch :(

@Jukilum

I was afraid of that :( Oh well, another reason I am not going to part with my Gamecube enabled Wii and my N64 anytime soon :)

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