Star Wars: Republic Commando: The Bad Batch
It’s been sort of an interesting journey for the era of Star Wars known as “The Clone Wars”. The premise is certainly interesting enough: An alliance of planets with a massive droid army wants to break off from the Galactic Republic. The Republic, kind of caught with their pants down, accepts a ready army of clones based off a skilled bounty hunter with little to no questions asked because they don’t really have another option. Meanwhile, someone behind the scenes is playing puppetmaster to engineer the end of the Jedi, the downfall of The Republic, and bring about the Galactic Empire.
We all know how it turns out, but the cinematic journey about that era is a very weird tale. It starts with arguably the worst movie in the Skywalker Saga, Attack of the Clones, but then comes around to the highly acclaimed Clone Wars animated series and is getting a fresh boost with a series all about a specialized group of Clones called Star Wars: The Bad Batch starting on Disney Plus next month.
There’s been actually a lot of content all about the Clone experience in the last 15 or so years. But in 2005 there was really only one thing that gave any sort of insight to the Clone Army of the Republic as more than just human cannon fodder for the galactic war machine, and that was Star Wars: Republic Commando, which had you as the lead of an elite Clone Squad carrying out specialized missions. But your squad didn’t just have special skills, they had a distinct personalities and were clear brothers on arms, things that would be explored much further in shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and to some extent Star Wars Rebels years later. At the time, it was a pretty novel hook.
Fast forward 15 years later though, with a whole lot of lore and content about what it means to be a clone, and the natural evolution of squad-based FPS games, does Star Wars: Republic Commando still hold as a novel take on the genre?
Well, as you might expect of a game more than 15 years old that is really just a straight port with nothing updated, Star Wars: Republic Commando is a game best enjoyed as a nostalgia hit. It was a solid game back in its day, and still holds up in that manner, along with your various personalities for your Clone Squad still being distinct and entertaining, but a lot of the gameplay might be more harshly judged in a modern, fully priced title carrying the Star Wars name (it should be noted that Star Wars: Republic Commando is $15).
For example, the game is extremely dependent on actually being a decent tactical commander. You run in guns blazing and in most situations you will just die very quickly, but it’s not really fleshed out enough. You can direct squadmates to certain locations, and focus fire on a particular enemy, but something as simple as “get to cover” isn’t even an option, and your elite squad often gets downed just because they blindly run into things and can’t actually take a lot of fire while many enemies are big bullet sponges if you just have your standard assault rifle or even worse your pistol that has unlimited ammo but is incredibly weak.
But hey, it’s still a Star Wars FPS that isn’t terribly expensive that you can play on your Nintendo Switch, that’s kind of the whole point of the Switch right? Be able to play these games on the go you never could before? Unfortunately there’s a whole new level of problems that come specifically with the Nintendo Switch version which is the version I bought.
Undocked, Star Wars Republic Commando runs ok There are some frame rate dips here and there but nothing too extensive. Honestly the biggest issue is that the Joy Con setup just isn’t ideal most modern FPS control schemes, let along being adapted to something from 15 years ago. So I tried it docked on my TV with a Pro Controller. Granted, you shouldn’t have to have a $70 controller to make a game play better, but it does and it is what it is. The real problem is that docked, the frame rate absolutely chugs to a nearly unplayable rate at times, and when a game is extremely dependent on tight real time tactical decisions to get through levels, it really hurts that. As of this time, I simply cannot recommend playing the Nintendo Switch version of Star Wars: Republic Commando (though reportedly they are looking into the frame rate issue). Luckily, the game is available on just about every other platform (and actually way cheaper on PC and Xbox) so if you really want to play it you have plenty of other options.
If a patch is dropped that fixes the frame rate, I’ll give Star Wars: Republic Commando on the Nintendo Switch another pass, but until then I can’t even give it the usual ticket rating, it’s a broken ride badly in need of repair. That’s all for now, see ya real soon!