Full Reivew: The next best thing to being in a Star Wars movie.
For those of you that don't already know, Rogue Squadron for the N64 was one of the best Star Wars games ever put on a video game console. Needless to say, a sequel on the next generation Nintendo system was able to generate a whole lot of buzz. The problem with buzz is that a game seldom lives up to the expectations that game players get stuck in their head. I am happy to say that Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader does NOT fall into that category.
First and foremost, Rogue Leader is more of the same great gameplay that made its predecessor a hit on the N64. The action is fast, the graphics are pretty (at times frickin' beautiful) and the sound is incredible. In this GameCube launch title you take the roles of Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles (the only pilot to live through all three movies) and join the rebellion in their mission to defeat the evil Empire. The game parallels the time frame of the original three movies and you will get to see several familiar locals from the films. In fact, you start off the game fighting the first Death Star over Yavin and eventually make your way to the second one over the moon of Endor.
As I mentioned before, the game looks and sounds fantastic. The graphical models have an astounding amount of detail put into them and when you combine that with the textures that are used you get an almost perfect recreation of their movie counterparts. What is really amazing is the fact that every ship is constructed that way and that there are swarms of them on every level with no noticeable processor slowdown. Of course, a licensed game needs more than just pretty visuals to stand on its own and that is where the audio genius comes to play. The combat sound effects may very well have been taken from the same audio source as those in the actual films considering how perfect they sound. To help give the game some additional personality, a great voice team has been put together and includes Denis Lawson, the actor that portrayed Wedge in the movies.
The gameplay of Rogue Leader has hardly changed since the original N64 title. This fact has both it's ups and downs. On the plus side is the fact that the game plays as well as the original one did with tight controls that are fairly intuitive. The drawback with barely evolving the play is the same one that the original game suffered, being that the later missions can get somewhat repetitive. There are a couple of small changes though, including a great little wingman command feature that allows you to assign targets to your associates. I am still waiting for a cooperative multiplayer mode however. You'd think that this current batch of consoles with their online offerings would be able to provide such a feature. Oh well, maybe in the third installment.