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Rogue Leader

Vengeance on Kothlis. Beautiful level

Ison Corridor. Another beautiful level

Yes, all of those dots are enemy ships >:-)

Epic space combat

An interesting documentary with the game's creators

Story:
Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2 is a action packed space shooter which takes place in the time period of the original Star Wars trilogy. As the leaders of Rogue Squadron, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, you fly through 10 mission-based levels of combat, covering the major battles of the movies and other behind the scenes missions that were only hinted at in the films. This is the sequel to Rogue Squadron, which was on the N64. However, the new technology of the GameCube has allowed developer Factor 5 to create a much more realistic and movie-like game.

Graphics:
This is one of the most beautiful games on any platform EVER, and considering it's a first-generation game, the future is very promising for the GameCube graphics-wise. One word to describe the graphics is DETAILED. Everything is modeled with great detail, with bump maps, reflections, proper light sourcing, self-shadowing (which is amazing). Every trick they could do, they just about did. Overall, the look is very clean with high framerates.

Sound:
Along with the graphics, the sound is also very impressive. The music is great, a mix of the classic Star Wars themes and new songs that have the same sound to them. The sound effects are also very good, along with the voice acting (which can get a bit repetitive occasionally). And although I can't tell because I only have crappy TV speakers, the game does support 5.1 surround sound in Dolby Pro Logic II.

Control:
The control is also very good and pretty intuitive. The training level will help you get used to it. The A button fires primary lasers, B fires the secondary weapon, Y brings up the targeting computer, which is very helpful when trying to figure out the targets. You must hold the Y button while targeting, although there is an upgrade you can get that will let you push Y once to toggle the targeting computer on or off. X toggles cockpit view, vs normal view. The R trigger makes you go faster, and if you R-click with a winged ship, your wings will close to make you go even faster, but you cannot fire while in this mode. L makes you go slower. The D-pad is used to give commands to your wingmen, although while in the heat of battle, it can be out of the way. I found myself reaching with my right thumb to hit the D-pad because I didn't want to take my left thumb off the control stick as I was chasing a bad guy or didn't want to crash.

Gameplay:
Each level is mission-based. You must attack a target, protect a ship, etc. There are multiple objectives on each mission. You have 3 lives, which sometimes doesn't seem like enough, because the game can be quite hard at times. The objectives aren't always exactly as clear as they could be, so use your targeting computer and go for the yellow targets; these are the main objectives usually. Meanwhile, you're constantly being shot at by Imperial forces, so you have to try to avoid them while completing your objectives. You will be replaying these levels a lot, which is one of the only problems I have with this game. After you've played a level many times, the game becomes frustrating rather than fun. Especially the last level, Strike at the Core, which requires jedi-like reflexes to finish.

Replay Value:
This is the other problem I have with the game, it's pretty short. Even with having to play the levels over and over again, I was still able to finish the game within a 5 day rental period. However, I was playing an awful lot during those days, so it may take some people longer. There IS some replay value though. On each level you can get medals by completing each mission in a certain amount of time with so many kills while not using the targeting computer, etc. Personally, I wouldn't have the patience to do this, but that's just me. With the medals come points which you can use to unlock secret ships, missions and other bonus features such as a short documentary on the making of the game, and an audio commentary from the designers during the levels. Both of these are very interesting for those interested in game design and development.

Rating:
The game is rated Teen for violence, but if you've seen Star Wars, you've seen all the violence in this game if not more.

Overall:
If you're a Star Wars fan, you will love this game. Everything from the opening crawl to the ending credits is very much like the movies. The game is technically impressive, and a very good showing from Factor 5. However, since the game is short, and I was able to beat it rather quickly, it is only a rental for me and not a buy. But if this is your type of game, I highly recommend it.

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