Review – Star Wars: Republic Commando (Switch)
Originally released in 2005, Star Wars: Republic Commando is one of the most celebrated Star Wars games ever released. There were plenty of reasons to love it: it mixed the tactical, squad-based shooting mechanics from the Rainbow Six games with one of the grittiest and darkest settings in the history of George Lucas’ franchise. It portrayed the dirtiness and savagery of the Clone Wars like very few Star Wars products have ever managed before. Furthermore, it was backed by the first licensed heavy rock song in the history of Star Wars: “Clones“, by the Northern Irish band Ash.
The only main issue with Republic Commando was the fact it was released to a less popular console right at the end of its life cycle. It was further ported to PCs, as well as available on the Xbox One via backwards compatibility, but it took sixteen years for it to finally appear on a Nintendo console. This is of course courtesy of Aspyr, the same company behind the ports of Episode I: Racer, Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy. Sadly, while these previous efforts ran and looked better than their original counterparts, the Switch version of Republic Commando is an anomaly: a supposed remaster of an older game that looks and runs worse than its original version…
At its core, this is almost the same game released back in 2005. The campaigns are all here, the voice acting is intact, and even Ash’s music video is still accessible in the Extras menu. Sadly, the multiplayer, which was one of the most widely celebrated features of the original Republic Commando, is completely absent. I’m not going to lie, this absence is a bummer. I understand not wanting to invest on an online server, but this game was fun as hell even on split-screen. This could (and should) have been added to the overall package.
Aspyr decided to focus solely on the single player campaigns instead. Alright, I don’t exactly like this strategy, but considering how amazing Republic Commando‘s single player missions were, I can forgive them. The game, as a whole, plays exactly like it did back in the day. It also has the added option of being able to remap its entire button layout to something a bit more “modern” (reloading with X and jumping with Y? Really?) and using the Switch’s gyro sensor to add an extra layer of fake immersion to the overall experience. So far, so good, right?
The problem lies on the quality of this “remaster”, if you can even call it that. Simply put, this version of Republic Commando looks rough. The original game was dark, but playing this in portable mode proved to be a hassle due to how drab and colorless everything looked. Turning your night vision mode on doesn’t help either. Characters blend with the background, items are hard to spot onscreen, and the once impactful color palette from the original Republic Commando game has vanished in favor of grey-brown mush. The original game looked a lot better in comparison, which is not an exaggeration.
The visuals aren’t even the biggest offender, the performance is. Somehow, for reasons beyond my comprehension, Republic Commando runs incredibly poorly on the Switch. I’m talking about instances where the framerate drops to the mid-teens, especially in more open sections, such as the surface of Geonosis. Even when you’re in a narrow corridor, the framerate can fluctuate between 60 and 20 in a blink of an eye, and I can’t tell you why. Other games like Episode I: Racer, whose source code is much older and possibly much harder to properly remaster, run fine on the Switch. Hell, the PS4 version of Republic Commando doesn’t feature these issues.
The Switch port of Republic Commando is easily the worst version I’ve ever played, with subpar visuals and a framerate that makes the OG Xbox version feel like it’s running on an RTX 3080 in comparison. That being said, even an underwhelming build of Republic Commando is still highly enjoyable, being one of the grittiest and most unique Star Wars games ever made. If you just want a way to play this classic on-the-go, then sure, go for it. Just don’t expect to be wowed in any way. If you were looking for a full-fledged remaster, just like what Aspyr did to Episode I: Racer, forget about it. Pick it up on the PS4 instead.
It may have been a graphically impressive game at the time, but there’s no reason for the Switch version of Republic Commando to look and run worse than the Xbox original.
The squad-based gameplay is still great and the combat is excellent, but the inconsistent framerate really hinders the experience.
A bit compressed, but it’s your average (as in, awesome) Star Wars soundtrack, coupled with gritty yet decent voice acting. The music video for Ash’s “Clones” is still included in this package.
Fun Factor: 6.5
This is the most disappointing version of Republic Commando ever released. Although, even the worst port of this game is still tons of fun thanks to its gritty tone, excellent story, and fun set pieces.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Star Wars: Republic Commando is available now on PS4, Xbox, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Star Wars: Republic Commando was provided by the publisher.